Universiteit Leiden

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This Week’s Discoveries | 2 October 2018

Tuesday 2 October 2018
Niels Bohrweg 2
2333 CA Leiden
De Sitterzaal

Addressing Antibiotic Resistance: Research in the Martin Group

Nathaniel Martin obtained his PhD in 2004 from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta (Canada) on research into naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides. Upon completion of his PhD he moved to the University of California Berkeley (USA) as a postdoctoral fellow where he developed a number of inhibitors and mechanistic probes for the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS). In 2007 Nathaniel began his independent research career at Utrecht University where he built a dynamic research group working in the fields of medicinal chemistry and chemical biology.

Fundamental to the work carried out in Nathaniel’s research group is the application of synthetic organic chemistry to address biologically interesting and medically relevant questions. Specifically, the Martin group’s research focuses on using new (bio)chemical approaches to combat infectious disease as well as developing new molecular tools with which to study epigenetic processes.

Nathaniel has received a number of grants and awards in support of his research including the NWO VENI (2007) and VIDI (2010) grants as well as the ERC consolidator grant (2016). He was also recently named as one of the top three young medicinal chemists in Europe (in voting for the 2016 EFMC Prize Young Medicinal Chemists in Academia). In July 2018 Nathaniel moved his research group to the Institute of Biology (IBL) at Leiden University where he holds the title Professor of Biological Chemistry.

Despite a clear need, only three truly new classes of antibiotics have been brought to the clinic in the past 50 years. For a number of reasons, developing antibiotics represents a poor investment for pharmaceutical companies. In response, academic researchers can contribute by identifying promising new antibiotic strategies that may eventually be taken up by pharmaceutical companies for further development.

The Martin group’s research programme encompasses a number of lines concerned with addressing antibiotic resistance. Specifically, our research involves pursuing new antibiotics as well as developing novel compounds to block resistance mechanisms. This talk will provide a brief history of antibiotics and give a general description of two recently initialed projects in the lab that show promise in delivering new strategies for combatting antibiotic resistance.

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