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Leiden Medicinal Chemistry researcher Andreas Bender receives prestigious EFMC Prize

Andreas Bender, Assistant Professor for Medicinal Chemistry in the Medicinal Chemistry Division of the Leiden / Amsterdam Center for Drug Research, received the "EFMC Prize for Young Medicinal Chemist in Academia" in 2010.


The Prize is given annually and consists of a diploma, € 1.000 and an invitation for an award lecture at the XXIst International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry of the EFMC in Brussels, Belgium, on September 7th 2010. The prize was established by the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC) to acknowledge and recognize an outstanding young medicinal chemist (up to 35 years of age) working in academia within Europe.

The EFMC prize is conferred for the total scientific work performed up to the current stage, and particularly the diversity of the work Andreas performed in different countries and with different groups, both in academia and a pharmaceutical company, namely Novartis in Boston.

Personalized HIV treatments

Illustration of the residues of the HIV enzyme used for predicting which drug to use against which patient.

One of the reasons Andreas won this prize is his current work on ‘personalized medicines’, in this case personalized HIV treatments. Andreas’s PhD student Gerard van Westen, funded by Prof. Herman van Vlijmen at Tibotec in Belgium, is developing so-called ‘proteochemometrics’ models, which predict which drug to use against a particular strain of the virus. They have shown that the approach works on predicting treatments for novel patients. Their work will be published soon in a prestigious journal.

Substructure mining methods

Another research area in his group, part of the TI Pharma GPCR Forum, is based on substructure mining methods we developed, namely by Andreas’ PhD student Eelke van der Horst. The aim is to develop novel ligands for known GPCRs, as well as to develop the first ligands for novel GPCRs where no ligands are known yet (so-called ‘orphan’ GPCRs). This project is performed in a very fruitful collaboration with VU Amsterdam and MSD (formerly Organon) which will lead to very interesting results soon.


Andreas obtained his undergraduate degree in Berlin, Dublin and Frankfurt. He obtained his PhD in Cambridge. After his PhD Andreas spent 2 years as a postdoc with Novartis and then joined Leiden University in January 2008.

Since January 2008 Andreas Bender is an Assistant Professor for Medicinal Chemistry at the Leiden / Amsterdam Centre for Drug Research (LACDR), at the Medicinal Chemistry Division. Here researchers are generating computational models to predict the properties of chemicals - such as solubility, which is very important for drugs, but mainly focusing on the bioactivity of a chemical. Hence, the computer can decide which compounds to test in experiments, making drug discovery both cheaper and faster. It currently takes more than 10 years to bring a compound to the market, which is far too long for many patients.

Andreas is also a Visiting Faculty at the Institute for Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology where he teaches every summer. In May 2010 he will join the Chemistry Department of Cambridge University as a lecturer, but continues his links with Leiden University in research collaborations.

International collaborations and interdisciplinary research

Andreas’s research group works strongly with the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) where they’ve established the Pharma-IT platform with a grant from the Dutch Top Institute Pharma (TI Pharma).

Tibotec (Belgium) is funding Gerard van Westen, one of Andreas’s PhD students.

Andreas also has strong links with the research group of Professor Hendrik Blockeel from KU Leuven (Belgium), and with the Metabolomics Centre, also part of the Faculty of Science of Leiden University.

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