Michael Nash

Born in: USA
Primary research category: Nanobiotechnology
Research location / employer: Department of Chemistry, University of Basel, and Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Fellowship dates: 2012-2017

Academic Career

  • Associate Professor for Molecular Engineering, University of Basel and ETH Zurich, 2021-present
  • Tenure-track Assistant Professor for Engineering of Synthetic Systems, Department of Chemistry, University of Basel, and with dual appointment Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering, ETH Zurich, 2016–2021
  • Principal investigator, Swiss National Center for Competence in Research (NCCR) Molecular Systems Engineering, 2016 to present
  • Group Leader, Department of Physics, Chair for Applied Biophysics and Center for Nanoscience, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, Germany, 2013-2016
  • Postdoctoral training at the Chair for Applied Biophysics and Center for Nanoscience, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, Germany (2011-2013)


  • PhD in Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA (2010)
  • Undergraduate studies in Cybernetics, University of California, Los Angeles, USA (2006)

Fellowship Research

Anaerobic bacteria such as Clostridium thermocellum have evolved specialized molecular machines for degrading plant cell walls. Hundreds of nanometers in size, ‘cellulosomes’ reside on the bacterial cell surface and serve to convert cellulose into its constituent sugars, providing the bacterium with energy. The goal of this research is to develop a toolbox of artificial bio-hybrid nanostructures based on cellulosome network connectivity. Dr. Michael Nash seeks to identify candidate compositions that exhibit high catalytic activity and low enzyme loading requirements. By harnessing the cellulosome concept used in nature, he aims to design an enzyme system that outperforms existing formulations on a cost-competitive and modular technology platform.

Current Research

The goal of the Nash Lab is to develop molecular therapeutic and diagnostic technologies using the tools of nanobiotechnology, bioengineering, and biophysical chemistry. The lab focuses on protein engineering, directed evolution, single-​molecule biophysics, and the interface between synthetic and biological systems.

Major Contributions

As a Branco Weiss Fellow:

  • Developed magnetic separation systems for enriching elastin-like protein polymers from biological fluids
  • Published new analytical model to describe biasing effects of mechano-receptor complexes on protein unfolding behavior.
  • Taught undergraduate physical chemistry to 450+ students in German.
  • Developed enzymatic sugar-sensitive reaction cascades for the formation of hydrogels encapsulating textile fibers and live cells.
  • Discovered mechano-stable receptor-ligand complexes derived from cellulosic degrading bacteria.

After the Fellowship:

  • Developed novel high-throughput technologies for mutational scanning of therapeutic enzymes
  • Designed drug-delivery formulations based on elastin-like polypeptides
  • Published numerous studies on mechanostable receptor-ligand complexes

Major Awards

  • ERC Consolidator 2022
  • ERC Starting Grant, 2016
  • Young Investigator, Human Frontier Science Program, 2015
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, 2011
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2008
  • Department of Homeland Security Graduate Research Fellowship, 2007
  • Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, 2006

Collaborative Projects with other Branco Weiss Fellows