Sonja Billerbeck


Postdoctoral Research Scientist

Sonja Billerbeck is a postdoctoral fellow in the Cornish Laboratory. She received her PhD in 2013 at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) in the interdisciplinary Department for Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE). Prior to coming to the ETH Zürich, she was awarded a master’s in biology from the University of Tübingen, Germany for a master’s thesis performed at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in the Department of Protein Evolution studying the function of archeal chaperones.

During her doctoral studies, Dr. Billerbeck developed a novel strategy for the rational design of switchable proteins for application in cell-free biotechnology. Her current research interest revolves around the field of synthetic biology, with special emphasis on protein engineering strategies applied to understand and functionalize bacterial microcompartments. She was awarded a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation, and in 2014 was named a Junior Fellow of the Simons Foundation. She is also an active member of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) foundation, which organizes and operates the iGEM Competition, a student summer competition in the field of synthetic biology.

Education History

PhD, ETH Zurich
Biosystems Science and Engineering

MS, University of Tübingen


Billerbeck S, Härle J, Panke S. The good of two worlds: increasing complexity in cell-free systems. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2013 Dec;24(6):1037-43.

Billerbeck S, Calles B, Müller CL, de Lorenzo V, Panke S. Towards functional orthogonalisation of protein complexes: individualisation of GroEL monomers leads to distinct quasihomogeneous single rings. Chembiochem. 2013 Nov 25;14(17):2310-21.

Billerbeck S, Panke S. A genetic replacement system for selection-based engineering of essential proteins. Microb Cell Fact. 2012 Aug 16;11:110.

Bujara M, Schümperli M, Billerbeck S, Heinemann M, Panke S. Exploiting cell-free systems: Implementation and debugging of a system of biotransformations. Biotechnol Bioeng. 2010 Jun 15;106(3):376-89.