Universiteit Leiden

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Sandra Irmisch

Assistant Professor

Dr. S. Irmisch
+31 71 527 2727

Plants are extraordinary biochemists and produce a plethora of valuable specialized metabolites (i.e. natural products), including some of our most important medicines. In my lab we want to understand specialized metabolite biosynthesis on a molecular level to improve cultivated plant systems and advance the engineering of high-value bioproducts.

More information about Sandra Irmisch


My lab explores plant chemical diversity on a molecular level to achieve two major goals: (i) Discover mechanisms, genes and enzymes of specialized metabolite biosynthetic systems and (ii) apply these discoveries for engineering of specialized metabolites for plant and human health. We thrive for basic, curiosity driven science inspired by direct application.

Our current research explores the novel, anti-diabetic plant-derived specialized metabolite montbretin A (MbA). We aim to fully understand the production, distribution, storage and transport of this highly complex molecule to engineer and improve production systems. 

Research in the lab includes a wide range if genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and biochemical approaches and utilizes state-of-the-art tools.  

Brief biography

Sandra Irmisch completed her PhD in Biochemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (MPI-ICE) and the Friedrich Schiller University (Jena, Germany) in 2014. In 2015, she was awarded the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society for outstanding scientific achievements. Sandra continued as a postdoctoral scientist and Feodor Lynen Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at the Michael Smith Laboratories (MSL), University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada) from 2015 to 2021. 
Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the Plant Science cluster at the Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL), Leiden University, Netherlands.   


  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship (2016 - 2018) 
  • Otto-Hahn-Medal, Max Planck Society (2015)

Key publications

Sunstrum FG, Liu HL, Jancsik S, Madilao LL, Bohlmann J, Irmisch S: 4-Coumaroyl-CoA ligases in the biosynthesis of the anti-diabetic metabolite montbretin A. Plos One 2021, 16(10):e0257478.

Irmisch S, Ruebsam H, Jancsik S, Man Saint Yuen M, Madilao LL, Bohlmann J: Flavonol Biosynthesis Genes and Their Use in Engineering the Plant Antidiabetic Metabolite Montbretin A. Plant Physiol 2019, 180(3):1277-1290.

Irmisch S, Jo S, Roach CR, Jancsik S, Man Saint Yuen M, Madilao LL, O'Neil-Johnson M, Williams R, Withers SG, Bohlmann J: Discovery of UDP-Glycosyltransferases and BAHD-Acyltransferases Involved in the Biosynthesis of the Antidiabetic Plant Metabolite Montbretin A. Plant Cell 2018, 30(8):1864-1886.

For all publications, please see Google Scholar

Assistant Professor

  • Science
  • Instituut Biologie Leiden
  • IBL Plant Sciences

Work address

Sylviusweg 72
2333 BE Leiden


  • No relevant ancillary activities
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