Kai Johnsson is Director of the Department of Chemical Biology at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Medical Research, and Professor at the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). His current research interests focus on the development of chemical approaches to visualize and manipulate biochemical activities in living cells. In the past he has introduced a number of widely used research tools and used these tools to make biological discoveries. He introduced methods to specifically label proteins in living cells (i.e. SNAP-tag and CLIP-tag), developed new fluorescent probes and sensors, and conducted studies on the mechanism of action of drugs and drug candidates.
Kai Johnsson obtained his Diploma and PhD from the ETH Zürich in Switzerland. He joined the faculty of EPFL in 1999 and in 2017 became Director at the MPI for Medical Research. Kai Johnsson was Associate Editor of ACS Chemical Biology from 2005 to 2010 and since 2021 Executive Editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. He is member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Science and was member of the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation from 2011-17. He received the Prix APLE for the invention of the year 2003 of EPFL, the Novartis Lectureship Award 2012/13, the Karl-Heinz Beckurts Prize 2016 and is elected member of EMBO.