2020 Foresight Fellow in Health & Longevity
Daniel’s background in structural biology, strengthened by a B.Sc. in biochemistry (University of Tuebingen, Germany, 2014) and a M.Sc. in biophysics (ETH Zurich, Switzerland, 2016) with distinction, enabled him to understand biological processes down to the atomic level. During his doctoral work with Dr. Martin Fussenegger at ETH Zurich, Daniel employed these fundamental insights to genetically re-engineer human cells for therapeutic purposes. Creatively using the principles of synthetic biology, he designed new proteins with a dedicated function – such as a novel caffeine receptor – and used these intricate tools to develop potent new cell-based therapies for diabetes mellitus and Parkinson’s disease. Further, Daniel was distinguished by several prestigious fellowships, such as the Excellence Scholarship and Opportunity Program of ETH Zurich and by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, as well as in the form of a Selected Young Scientist at the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, an honor extended to the 600 most promising biomedical scientists worldwide. As a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. James J. Collins at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Daniel harnesses the potency of cutting edge machine learning techniques to elucidate the biological functions of glycans since September 2019. Often described as the “third language of life” after DNA and proteins, glycans are by far the most complex and plastic biopolymer in humans. While these macromolecules are crucial to every human disease, glycobiology is still a predominantly experimental, and severely neglected, area of research. Daniel was the first researcher to devise, develop, and apply methods derived from artificial intelligence to glycans and begin to tame their astounding complexity. His research could therefore pave the way for exciting new insights and novel therapies for grueling human diseases.
In 2020, Daniel, was selected to be part of the prestigious Branco Weiss Fellowship – Society in Science 2020 Fellows, and as such was awarded $106,000 annually for five years to work on connecting machine learning and glycobiology, towards unveiling the inner workings of biology and facilitating biomedical therapies of tomorrow.