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Mario van der Stelt appointed Professor of Molecular Physiology

Mario van der Stelt has been appointed Professor of Molecular Physiology at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry with effect from 1 November 2017.

Endocannabinoids and cancer medication

Chemist Mario van der Stelt is known worldwide as an expert in the field of endocannabinoids, substances that are naturally found in the brain and that mimic the effect of cannabis. This year, the research group, which Van der Stelt founded in the past five years, published an article in Science possibly explaining from a molecular point of view the side effects of an experimental drug that cost the life of a test subject in France last year. In another line of research, that Van der Stelt created in collaboration with the Netherlands Cancer Institute and LUMC, research is being carried out into substances that can selectively inhibit the enzymes that play a major role in acute myeloid leukemia.

New Chair of Molecular Physiology

As a professor of Molecular Physiology, Van der Stelt will be connected to the 'Chemical Biology' focus area of the LIC. He will participate in research projects of the LIC and (co-)supervise PhD students. In addition, he will naturally be involved in teaching and supervising students, particularly within the bachelor's and master's programmes of LST and MST. This new chair is in line with the university’s and faculty’s research profile ‘Science Base of Health’ and will give a boost to the Leiden drug discovery research. Not only the faculty cooperation between the research groups of the IBL, LACDR and the LUMC will be intensified, but the Leiden contribution in the field of drug research and development within the Medical Delta will also receive an extra boost.


After his cum laude promotion in Utrecht in the field of the endocannabinoid Anandamide and a two-year postdoc period in Italy, Van der Stelt worked eight years as a project leader in an industrial environment at the Merck Research Laboratories (formerly Organon) in Oss. In 2012 he was appointed as tenure track associate professor at the LIC. In 2016 he received a tenure position and became head of the Molecular Physiology research group at the LIC. Despite his trip to business, he has more than 65 peer-reviewed publications to his name that have been quoted about 4500 times. He is also the author of six patents and won several prizes, including the Galenus Research Award in 2017.