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Welcome to the group of Dr. Beyer

A rising hope in personalized and regenerative medicine lies in 3-dimensional culture model systems such as embryoids and organoids. The latter technology for example exhibits major hallmarks of organs and has surfaced recently as alternative model systems to animal-based approaches facilitating fundamental and applied research. Combined with iPSC-derived technologies, such organ-like three-dimensional models can be generated from patient cells and therefore, they are recognized as ideal for investigating health and disease, and to develop approaches for personalized and regenerative medicine.

Our research focuses on programmable synthetic 3-D tissue culture models with intrinsic sense- and response-behavior, and optogenetic (light-responsive) control. Merging synthetic biology principles and optogenetics with advanced model biosystems shall expand their potential and derive new biomedical applications.

We think that implementing optogenetic control strategies within 3-D tissue culture platforms may in the future allow to control the spatiotemporal onset of stimuli, for example to activate designed and incorporated synthetic biological circuitry. These engineered smart sensor systems could then for example report on development processes, or detect malfunction in a quantitative manner e.g., to assist in personalized drug treatments or screening. Alternatively, they may rewire metabolic and signaling networks. The resulting model biosystems bear the potential to open novel diagnostic capabilities and provide an innovative platform for drug-screening, therapeutic testing, and fundamental research.


Carroll Diehl (Bsc. candidate)

Frauke Stölting (Msc. candidate)



Kevin Brors (Bsc.)



2021-present 'Freigeist' Fellowship, VolkswagenStiftung, Germany

2017-2019 Fellowship for Research within Biotechnology-based Synthesis and Production, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Denmark



Hiltunen, MK, Beyer HM, Iwaï H. Mini-Intein Structures from Extremophiles Suggest a Strategy for Finding Novel Robust Inteins. Microorganisms 2021, 9, 1226. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9061226.

Blomeier T, Fischbach P, Koch L‐A, Andres J, Miñambres M, Beyer HM, Zurbriggen MD. Blue Light‐Operated CRISPR/Cas13b‐Mediated mRNA Knockdown (Lockdown). Adv. Biology 2021, 2000307. doi: 10.1002/adbi.202000307.

Beyer HM, Virtanen SI, Aranko AS, Mikula KM, Lountos GT, Wlodawer A, Ollila OHS, Iwaï H. The Convergence of the Hedgehog/Intein Fold in Different Protein Splicing Mechanisms. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Nov 7;21(21):8367. doi: 10.3390/ijms21218367.

Oeemig JS, Beyer HM, Aranko AS, Mutanen J, Iwaï H. Substrate specificities of inteins investigated by QuickDrop-cassette mutagenesis. FEBS Lett. 2020 Oct;594(20):3338-3355. doi: 10.1002/1873-3468.13909.

Beyer HM, Mikula KM, Li M, Wlodawer A, Iwaï H. The crystal structure of the naturally split gp41-1 intein guides the engineering of orthogonal split inteins from cis-splicing inteins. FEBS J. 2020 May;287(9):1886-1898. doi: 10.1111/febs.15113

Ciragan A, Backlund SM, Mikula KM, Beyer HM, Samuli Ollila OH, Iwaï H. NMR Structure and Dynamics of TonB Investigated by Scar-Less Segmental Isotopic Labeling Using a Salt-Inducible Split Intein. Front Chem. 2020 Mar 19;8:136. doi: 10.3389/fchem.2020.00136.

Beyer HM, Iwaï H. Off-Pathway-Sensitive Protein-Splicing Screening Based on a Toxin/Antitoxin System. Chembiochem. 2019 Aug 1;20(15):1933-1938. doi: 10.1002/cbic.201900139

Beyer HM, Mikula KM, Kudling TV, Iwaï H. Crystal structures of CDC21-1 inteins from hyperthermophilic archaea reveal the selection mechanism for the highly conserved homing endonuclease insertion site. Extremophiles. 2019 Nov;23(6):669-679. doi: 10.1007/s00792-019-01117-4

Beyer HM§, Thomas OS§, Riegel N, Zurbriggen MD, Weber W, Hörner M. Generic and reversible opto-trapping of biomolecules. Acta Biomater. 2018 Oct 1;79:276-282. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2018.08.032

Beyer HM, Engesser R, Hörner M, Koschmieder J, Beyer P, Timmer J, Zurbriggen MD, Weber W. Synthetic Biology Makes Polymer Materials Count. Adv Mater. 2018 May;30(21):e1800472. doi: 10.1002/adma.201800472

Chatelle C, Ochoa-Fernandez R, Engesser R, Schneider N, Beyer HM, Jones AR, Timmer J, Zurbriggen MD, Weber W. A Green-Light-Responsive System for the Control of Transgene Expression in Mammalian and Plant Cells. ACS Synth Biol. 2018 May 18;7(5):1349-1358. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.7b00450

Smith RW, Helwig B, Westphal AH, Pel E, Hörner M, Beyer HM, Samodelov SL, Weber W, Zurbriggen MD, Borst JW, Fleck C. Unearthing the transition rates between photoreceptor conformers. BMC Syst Biol. 2016 Nov 25;10(1):110. doi: 10.1186/s12918-016-0368-y

Samodelov SL, Beyer HM, Guo X, Augustin M, Jia KP, Baz L, Ebenhöh O, Beyer P, Weber W, Al-Babili S, Zurbriggen MD. StrigoQuant: A genetically encoded biosensor for quantifying strigolactone activity and specificity. Sci Adv. 2016 Nov 4;2(11):e1601266. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1601266

Juillot S, Beyer HM, Madl J, Weber W, Zurbriggen MD, Römer W. Signalling to the nucleus under the control of light and small molecules. Mol Biosyst. 2016 Feb;12(2):345-9. doi: 10.1039/c5mb00763a

Beyer HM, Gonschorek P, Samodelov SL, Meier M, Weber W, Zurbriggen MD. AQUA Cloning: A Versatile and Simple Enzyme-Free Cloning Approach. PLoS One. 2015 Sep 11;10(9):e0137652. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137652

Beyer HM§, Juillot S§, Herbst K§, Samodelov SL, Müller K, Schamel WW, Römer W, Schäfer E, Nagy F, Strähle U, Weber W, Zurbriggen MD. Red Light-Regulated Reversible Nuclear Localization of Proteins in Mammalian Cells and Zebrafish. ACS Synth Biol. 2015 Sep 18;4(9):951-8. doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.5b00004.

Beyer HM, Naumann S, Weber W, Radziwill G. Optogenetic control of signaling in mammalian cells. Biotechnol J. 2015 Feb;10(2):273-83. doi: 10.1002/biot.201400077


§ Equal contribution

Current Teaching

Bio110 - Bachelor module "Zell- und Molekularbiologie"

M4455 - Master module "Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology"

M4457 - Master module "Optogenetic Cell Control, Advanced Microscopy & Quantitative Imaging"

SQ245 - Schlüsselqualifikationen "Von der Idee zum Projekt"


2020-present Groupleader in Optogenetics, University of Düsseldorf, Germany

2016-2019 Postdoc in Structural Biology and Biophysics, University of Helsinki, Finland

2013-2016 PhD in Synthetic Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany

2006-2012 Dipl. Biol. in Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany