Doreen Koenning

It is a long journey for a molecule to become an anti-cancer drug and being at the very beginning of the initial drug discovery process is incredibly rewarding.


With a background in biomolecular engineering, I was always curious about how proteins work and how we can engineer them for our purposes. After graduating from University, I knew I wanted to work in an innovative pharmaceutical company that really makes a difference. I wanted to be part of something big and contribute to the drug discovery process of the next-generation of cancer therapeutics. Being a part of the development of a drug that truly makes a difference in people's lives is a huge driver for me. It is fascinating to see how a new molecule is developed and what aspects are crucial for its success. Understanding these aspects is key to finding innovative solutions for problems that might occur along the way. After all, it is a long journey for a molecule to become an anti-cancer drug and being at the very beginning of the initial drug discovery process is incredibly rewarding.

It is fascinating to see how a new molecule is developed and what aspects are crucial for its success

Doreen Koenning

Senior Scientist Antibody-Drug Conjugates


Joined Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany: 2017

Key research fields and topics:

  • Antibody-Drug Conjugates
  • Targeted New Biological Entities
  • Targeted cancer therapy

Prizes and awards:

  • Award for the best PhD thesis in Biochemistry (awarded by the German Chemical Society, GdCh), 2018
  • Award for the best PhD thesis in the Department of Chemistry (awarded by the Association of Friends of the Technische Universität Darmstadt), 2018
  • "Protein Engineering Summit Boston 2016" Student Conference Fellowship, 2016
  • Travel Grant (awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD), 2015
  • "Protein Engineering Summit Boston 2015" Student Conference Fellowship, 2015
  • Laureate of the Dr.-Anton-Keller Graduation Award for exceptional achievements during graduate studies (awarded by the Department of Chemistry, Technische Universität Darmstadt), 2014
  • Award for the best outgoing high school student in Chemistry (awarded by the German Chemical Society), 2008

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CV & Scientific activities



  • Könning, Doreen (2018) TED@Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Talk: 'Can sharks help us fight cancer?'
  • Könning D, Kolmar H (2018) Beyond antibody engineering: Directed evolution of alternative binding scaffolds and enzymes using yeast surface display. Microbial Cell Factories, 17:32.
  • Könning D, Grzeschik J, Hinz SC, Krah S, Empting M, Kolmar H, Zielonka S (2018) Shark attack: Haiantikörper für Biomedizin und Biotechnologie. BIOspektrum, 24:142-145.
  • Grzeschik J, Könning D, Valldorf B, Schröter C, Krah S, Beck J, Kolmar H, Zielonka S (2018) Generation of semi-synthetic shark IgNAR single domain antibody libraries. Methods in Molecular Biology, 1701:147-167.
  • Schröter C*, Krah S*, Beck J*, Könning D, Grzeschik J, Valldorf B, Zielonka S, Kolmar H (2018) Isolation of pH-sensitive antibody fragments by fluorescence-activated cell sorting and yeast surface display. Methods in Molecular Biology, 1685:311-331.
  • Könning D, Rhiel L, Empting M, Grzeschik J, Sellmann C, Schröter C, Zielonka S, Dickgießer S, Pirzer T, Yanakieva D, Becker S, Kolmar H (2017) Semi-synthetic vNAR libraries screened against therapeutic antibodies primarily deliver anti-idiotypic binders. Scientific Reports, 7-9676.
  • Könning D*, Grzeschik J*, Zielonka S*, Empting M, Valldorf B, Krah S, Schröter C, Sellmann C, Hock B, Kolmar H (2016) Camelid and shark single domain antibodies: Structural features and therapeutic potential. Current Opinion in Structural Biology, 45:10-16.
  • Könning D, Grzeschik J, Zielonka S, Rhiel L, Schröter C, Becker S, Kolmar H (2017) European Patent Application EP17177728.7 
  • Grzeschik J*, Hinz SC*, Könning D*, Zielonka S, Pirzer T, Becker S, Kolmar H (2016) A simplified procedure for antibody engineering by yeast surface display: coupling display levels and target binding by ribosomal skipping. Biotechnology Journal, DOI: 10.1002/biot.201600454.
  • Könning D, Zielonka S, Sellmann C, Schröter C, Grzeschik J, Becker S, Kolmar H (2016) Isolation of a pH-sensitive IgNAR variable domain from a yeast-displayed, histidine-doped master library. Marine Biotechnology, 18:161–167.
  • Zielonka S, Empting M, Könning D, Krah S, Grzeschik J, Dickgießer S, Becker S, Kolmar H (2015) The shark strikes twice: Hypervariable loop 2 of shark IgNAR antibody variable domains and its potential to function as an autonomous paratope. Marine Biotechnology, 17:386–392.
  • Zielonka S*, Empting M*, Grzeschik J, Könning D, Barelle CJ, Kolmar H (2015) Structural insights and biomedical potential of IgNAR scaffolds from sharks. mAbs, 7:15–25.
  • Fabritz S*, Hörner S*, Könning D, Empting M, Reinwarth M, Dietz C, Glotzbach B, Frauendorf H, Kolmar H, Avrutina O (2012) From pico to nano: biofunctionalization of cube-octameric silsesquioxanes by peptides and miniproteins. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, 10:6287-6293.

* shared first author