Universiteit Leiden

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Sander Wezenberg

Associate professor

Dr. S.J. Wezenberg
+31 71 527 4541

Sander Wezenberg develops artificial stimuli-responsive transmembrane transport systems and dynamic self-assembling materials to study and manipulate biological systems.

More information about Sander Wezenberg


Sander Wezenberg studied Chemistry at the University of Nijmegen where he carried out his Master's research in the group of Prof. Roeland Nolte. He pursued his PhD studies in the field of supramolecular chemistry and catalysis with Prof. Arjan Kleij at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia. During this period, he spent time as a visiting researcher in the group of Prof. Joseph Hupp at Northwestern University. After receiving his PhD degree in 2011, he joined the group of Prof. François Diederich at ETH Zurich as a postdoctoral fellow. Two years later, he moved to the University of Groningen to work with Prof. Ben Feringa, where he was appointed Assistant Professor in 2017. He established his independent research group at Leiden University in 2019, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2022. His main research interests are in the areas of molecular switches, ion recognition and transport, and dynamic supramolecular systems. Sander is recipient of several prestigious grants, including a Starting Grant (2018) from the European Research Council (ERC), and young investigator grants (Veni-2014, Vidi-2018) from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). In 2020, he was elected as member of the Young Academy of Europe.

Curriculum Vitae

Personal information

Nationality:   Dutch


2011   PhD, Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), Spain
Thesis title: “Exploring metallosalen complexes in materials science and catalysis”
Advisor: Prof. A. W. Kleij
2007   MSc in Chemistry, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Current and previous research positions

2022 – now    Associate Professor, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands
2019 – 2022   Assistant Professor, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands
2017 – 2019   Assistant Professor, Stratingh Institute for Chemistry, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
2013 – 2016   Associate Researcher (Veni), Stratingh Institute for Chemistry, University of Groningen, The Netherlands (w/ Prof. B. L. Feringa)
2012 – 2013   Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zurich, Switzerland (w/ Prof. F. Diederich)
8 – 11 / 2010   Visiting Researcher, Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, US (w/ Prof. J. T. Hupp)

Grants, awards, recognitions

2021    NWO ENW-M1 Grant (k€ 350)
2020   NWO ENW-XS Grant (k€ 50)
2020   Member of the Young Academy of Europe
2018    NWO CW-Vidi Grant (k€ 800)
2018    ERC Starting Grant (k€ 1,500)
2014    NWO CW-Veni Grant (k€ 250)
2013    Thesis Award (“Premio Extraordinario de Doctorado”)
2008   FPU Predoctoral Fellowship (k€ 60)

Contribution to teaching and supervision

  • One course for BSc Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences at Leiden University: Chemistry
  • Two courses for MSc Chemistry and Life Science and Technology at Leiden University: Molecular Nanotechnology and Supramolecular Chemistry

Supervision of 8 PhD students and 4 postdoctoral fellows since 2019 at Leiden University.

Other current responsibilities

  • Member of Programme Committee MSc Chemistry of Leiden University
  • Member of Institute Council (I-Raad) of the Leiden Institute of Chemistry
  • Member of Science Outreach Task Force of the Young Academy of Europe
  • Member of Scientific Council (WERA) of the Leiden Institute of Chemistry

Publication record including five recent representative publications

Ca. 55 papers with >2,500 citations, H-index 27 (Web of Science, June 2022)

Full publication record: Leiden University

  • S. J. Wezenberg, L.-J. Chen, J. E. Bos, B. L. Feringa, E. N. W. Howe, X. Wu, M. A. Siegler, P. A. Gale. Photomodulation of transmembrane transport and potential by stiff-stilbene based bis-(thio)ureas. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2022, 144, 331-338. https://doi.org/10.1021/jacs.1c10034
  • D. Villarón, Nol Duindam, S. J. Wezenberg. Push‒pull stiff-stilbene: proton-gated visible-light photoswitching and acid-catalyzed isomerization. Chem. Eur. J. 2021, 27, 17346-17350. https://doi.org/10.1002/chem.202103052
  • D. Villarón, M. A. Siegler, S. J. Wezenberg. A photoswitchable strapped calix[4]pyrrole receptor: highly effective chloride binding and release. Chem. Sci. 2021, 12, 3188-3193. https://doi.org/10.1039/D0SC06686A
  • D. Villarón, S. J. Wezenberg. Stiff-stilbene photoswitches: from fundamental studies to emergent applications. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2020, 59, 13192-13202. https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.202001031
  • S. J. Wezenberg, B. L. Feringa. Photocontrol of anion binding affinity to a bis-urea receptor derived from stiff-stilbene. Org. Lett. 2017, 19, 324-327. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.orglett.6b03423

Presentations including five presentations at international conferences since 2015

>15 invited lectures at universities, companies and institutes, and >20 oral communications at international conferences since 2015

  • 2nd International Conference on Noncovalent Interactions (ICNI), Strasbourg, France, July 2022 (Invited)
  • Telluride Conference on Molecular Rotors, Motors, and Switches, Telluride, US, July 2022 (Invited)
  • Pacifichem 2021, Honolulu (Virtual), Hawaii, US, December 2021 (Invited)
  • 6th International Symposium on SupraBiomolecular Systems (SupraBio), Barcelona, Spain, May 2019 (Contributed)
  • International Symposium on Advanced Molecular Sciences (ISAMS), Shanghai, China, October 2018 (Keynote)

Associate professor

  • Science
  • Leiden Institute of Chemistry
  • LIC/Chemical Biology

Work address

Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden
Room number CM4.16



  • No relevant ancillary activities
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