Universiteit Leiden

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Three new professors for the Leiden Institute of Chemistry

With Sylvestre Bonnet, Jeroen Codée and Remus Dame, the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) will be getting no less than three new professors. Bonnet will become professor in Bioinorganic Chemistry, Codée professor in Organic Chemistry and Dame professor in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry.

Scientific Director of the LIC Hermen Overkleeft realises how special it is to get three new professors at once. ‘It is actually a bit of a coincidence, because they all follow an individual career path. All three of them were more than ready for it, and I'm glad that the time has come for each of them. All three of them are very important for our education and research, and on top of that, there is now room again for hiring new young talent.’

Fighting cancer with light

Sylvestre Bonnet mainly conducts research into the photophysical and photochemical properties of metal compounds, in other words: how metal compounds behave under the influence of light. Bonnet synthesises special metal compounds that only become toxic after irradiation with light. In this way he searches for chemotherapies that only destroy tumour cells and are not harmful to the rest of the body. As a chemist at the LIC Bonnet went through the entire Veni, Vidi, Vici trajectory of NWO and obtained an ERC Starting grant and two ERC Proof-of-Concept grants. He also set up two new MSc courses for the LIC: Photochemistry and Metals and Life, which both attract students from outside the LIC. Bonnet will become professor of Bioinorganic Chemistry.

More about Bonnet's research: Vici for Sylvestre Bonnet: new light on cancer therapy and Sylvestre Bonnet receives an ERC grant for light-activated chemotherapy

How to understand and use the shape of sugars

Jeroen Codée will become Professor of Organic Chemistry. He studies the structure and reactivity of organic molecules and also designs new molecules with specific properties. His focus is on the synthesis of sugars. Sugars play a role in almost all biological processes in our body. Researchers therefore like to use them to study these kinds of processes in the lab. However, the production of sugars is complex and not much is known about it yet. By means of laboratory experiments and computer simulations, Codée tries to better understand the reactions that play a role in the synthesis of sugars. Just like colleague Bonnet, Codée received a Veni, Vidi, and Vici scholarship during his career. He also received an ERC Consolidator grant. As a lecturer, Codée has been responsible for many basic and more in-depth courses over the years and he set up several new ones.

Read more about Codée's research: Vici grant for Jeroen Codée: ‘I want to understand how sugars are formed’

Folding DNA

Remus Dame becomes Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. He investigates how the DNA is folded in our cells. A DNA molecule is more than two meters long. To keep the enormous amount of hereditary material together, it is folded in loops with the help of proteins. The rolled up DNA has to be unpacked in order to read the genetic code. The rolling up and unpacking of the DNA takes place in response to stimuli and changes from outside. Dame investigates which proteins are responsible for this and how they work. . He focuses mainly on microorganisms without a cell nucleus, because little is known about this. Special about this research is that Dame not only tests in a test tube, but also looks at DNA in living cells using state-of-the-art techniques.

Dame also received a Veni-, Vidi- and Vici funding. He was also the main applicant of the NWO ENW Large grant he received for the above research. In addition, Dame is also active as a lecturer for the Chemistry and Life, Science and Technology programmes, where he teaches in-depth master's courses as well as first-year courses.

Read more about Remus Dame's research: Proteins and DNA loops: Science-Groot grant for Remus Dame.


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