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Kai Johnsson

Laboratory of protein engineering, EPFL

  • Full Professor


Kai Johnsson  was appointed after being Full Professor at the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and co-director of the NCCR Chemical Biology, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Department of Chemical Biology since 2017. He remains is Full Professor at the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and honorary member of the steering committee of the NCCR Chemical Biology. His current research interests are the development and application of chemical approaches to study and manipulate protein function. His past achievements include the introduction of different approaches to specifically label proteins in living cells; among these the SNAP-tag and CLIP-tag have become popular in the biological community.  Kai Johnsson is also Associate Editor of ACS Chemical Biology since 2005. He is member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Science and of the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation. He is co-founder of Covalys Biosciences which was based on protein labeling technologies developed in his laboratory; these technologies are now available through New England BioLabs. He received the Prix APLE for the invention of the year 2003 of EPFL, the Novartis Lectureship Award 2012/13 and is elected member of EMBO.

His main research interest is the development of chemistry-based tools to manipulate and visualize biochemical activities in living cells.

Read more about Kai Johnsson’s research on his lab website.


Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Institut des sciences et ingénierie chimiques
BCH 4303 (Bât. BCH)
1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Phone: +41 (0)21 693 93 56


Dhandapani, Rahul; Arokiaraj, Cynthia Mary; Taberner, Francisco J.; Pacifico, Paola; Raja, Sruthi; Nocchi, Linda; Portulano, Carla; Franciosa, Federica; Maffei, Mariano; Hussain, Ahmad Fawzi; de Castro Reis, Fernanda; Reymond, Luc; Perlas, Emerald; Garcovich, Simone; Barth, Stefan; Johnsson, Kai; Lechner, Stefan G.; Heppenstall, Paul A., “Control of Mechanical Pain Hypersensitivity in Mice through Ligand-Targeted Photoablation of TrkB-Positive Sensory Neurons”, Nature Communications, 9(1):1640, 2018. [More Information]

Hiblot Julien, Yu Qiluiyang, Sabbadini Marina, Reymond Luc, Xue Lin, Schena Alberto, Sallin Olivier, Hill Nicholas, Griss Rudolf, Johnsson Kai, “Luciferases with tunable emission wavelengths”, Ang. Chemie, 2017. [More Information]