Laura Heitman is associate professor of Medicinal Chemistry. Her areas of interest include the molecular pharmacology of ligand-receptor interactions, and more specifically, allosteric modulation of GPCRs and receptor residence time.
I studied Biopharmaceutical Sciences at Leiden University from September 1999 until October 2004. In the last two years of my education I have done three internships. Two of them were at the division of Medicinal Chemistry in Leiden. The first one was organic chemistry based and the second had a biology / pharmacology flavor.
For the third internship I went to London, where I worked at the department of Pharmaceutical and Biological Chemistry at the School of Pharmacy of the University of London for 5 months. Here I definitely learned that my interest was more in the molecular biology / pharmacology area, especially dealing with receptors.
Subsequently, I performed my PhD research at the Division of Medicinal Chemistry of Leiden University under supervision of Prof. Dr. A. P. IJzerman and in collaboration with MSD (former Organon, Oss, NL) as part of the Top Institute Pharma (TI Pharma) consortium. Here I gained knowledge on allosteric modulation of adenosine receptors and ‘reproductive’ GPCRs (GnRH and LH receptor). This has led to a scientific ‘output’ of eleven articles and two patents. I have presented my research at several (inter)national congresses and received five prizes. Moreover, I was named “Discoverer of the Year 2009” by the C.J. Kok-jury of the Faculty of Science for her scientific achievements. All this resulted in a position as assistant professor for Molecular Pharmacology at the Division of Medicinal Chemistry (Leiden) in January 2009.
Due to my extensive experience on (in vitro) ligand kinetics, I continue to focus on the importance thereof in drug discovery. In this respect, I have introduced a new research topic to the division, namely drug-target residence time. In general, my areas of interest include the molecular pharmacology of ligand-receptor interactions, and more specifically, allosteric modulation of GPCRs and receptor residence time. Due to my recently (July 2010) obtained VENI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), these topics are being studied more deeply. More on these interesting topics can be found on our website under ‘Research/Novel Receptor Concepts’.