University of Minnesota
BioTechnology Institute
myU OneStop

Romas Kazlauskas

Research Interests

Stereoselective Enzymatic Reactions.

Selecting Enzyme Catalysts

Romas Kazlauskas has developed rules and computer modeling methods that allow chemists to choose enzymes for use in biocatalytic reactions to synthesize drugs, chemical intermediates & biofuels.

Enzymes are nature's catalysts evolved for efficient biochemistry. Applying them to current chemical problems minimizes pollution and the use of toxic and non-selective chemical reagents. The scientific challenge, according to Kazlauskas, is to understand why enzymes are such selective and efficient catalysts and to get them to catalyze new chemical reactions not available in natural biochemistry.

Kazlauskas has employed several strategies in adapting existing enzymes to catalyze new reactions. One strategy is to find and utilize additional reactions that an existing enzyme can catalyze. Another strategy is to replace the catalytic metal center in an enzyme with one that catalyzes new reactions. And a third strategy Kazlauskas has used to adapt existing enzymes to catalyze new reactions is to modify existing reaction mechanisms - the use of enzymes in water-free environments, for example, to make biodegradable polymers.

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Department of Biochemistry
Molecular Biology & Biophysics
BioTechnology Institute

Ph.D., MIT (1982)
Postdoc: Harvard U.
visiting prof.: Stuttgart U. ('95-'96),
KTH Stockholm ('02-'03)
174A Gortner Lab
612-624-5904 office
612-625-5780 FAX