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Dr Kai Hilpert

Reader in Infection & Immunity
Kai Hilpert is an Associate Professor (Reader) and is specialized in biologically active peptides.

Kai Hilpert is an Associate Professor (Reader) of Infection and Immunity and is specialized in biologically active peptides, especially antimicrobial and anticancer peptides. He is also a founder and director of TiKa Diagnostics Ltd, a spin-out company from SGUL, that focuses on diagnostics of Mycobacteria in humans and animals.

Kai Hilpert is an Associate Professor (Reader) of Infection and Immunity at the Institute of Infection and Immunity at St. George’s University of London. He studied Biochemistry at the Humboldt University of Berlin and undertook his Ph.D. at the Institute of Biochemistry at the Charité at Berlin. He was trained by Prof Wolfgang Höhne and Prof Jens Schneider-Mergener (founder of JERINI). For his postdoc he went to Prof Bob Hancock at UBC (co-founder of Migenix, Inimex Pharmaceuticals, ABT Innovations, Sepset Biotherapeutics, and the Centre for Drug Research and Development), a leader in the field of antimicrobial peptides. In addition, he received training from Prof Frank Breitling, KIT ( founder of PEPperPRINT) in novel methods to synthesize and screen peptide arrays.

He has 20 years of experience in the synthesis of peptide libraries, screening, and optimization of peptides. Since 2003 he studies the design and optimization of short antimicrobial peptides. He was the first researcher that applied peptide libraries synthesized on cellulose membranes to investigate antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Combining his expertise with bioinformatics he and his collaborators have optimized prediction of short AMPs and their best library showed a success rate of 98% (several publications). In addition, he showed that tethered AMPs can be used to protect implants from bacterial infections stimulating respective research and developments. He has co-founded and co-organized the International Meeting on Antimicrobial Peptides (IMAP) in London (twice), Leipzig, Graz, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, and Utrecht. In addition, he is co-author of the article "Alternatives to antibiotics--a pipeline portfolio review " published in Lancet Infectious Diseases that won the Elsevier Atlas award. He works closely with industry and is a founder and director of a university spin-off company TiKa Diagnostics Ltd. that exploits synthetic peptides developed in his laboratory. In the last years, he has intensively worked on product development, production of TiKa peptides and quality management for TiKa products.

Dr. Kai Hilpert is interested in biologically active peptides, especially antimicrobial and anticancer peptides. At a time where multi-drug resistant bacteria threaten modern medicine, antimicrobial peptides can hopefully be developed into powerful drugs to treat such bacterial infections. In our group we predict, synthesize and screen thousands of these peptides and optimize them for high efficacy and low toxicity.

AMPs can have various targets and also multiple targets at the same time. Kai Hilpert and Prof. Axel Rosenhahn (University of Bochum) teamed up to develop the world’s first high-throughput method to classify any antimicrobial compound based on their mode of action. We have established this method (3 publications) and now apply this method to screen antimicrobial peptides and consequently will show the power of this technology for the field of antimicrobial drug development.


In a collaboration with Dr. Ferran Valderrama we also investigate anti-cancer peptides. We have developed a screening method and discovered some peptides with high selectivity.

BSc - project supervisor, lecturer

Mres - project supervisor, lecturer

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