Universiteit Leiden

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Sebastian Pomplun

Associate professor

Dr. S.J. Pomplun
+31 71 527 4651

In the Pomplun Lab we develop technologies for the discovery of novel chemical modalities that can address challenging drug targets. We create innovative drug discovery platforms based on rational design and on combinatorial chemistry to ultimately identify hit compounds targeting therapeutically relevant biomolecules. Towards this goal we use and develop modern organic synthesis procedures, bioconjugation methodologies, individual and combinatorial solid phase synthesis, tandem mass spectrometry and we develop ultrahigh throughput screening techniques.

More information about Sebastian Pomplun

Research in the Pomplun Lab
link to Pomplun Lab

Synthetic transcription factors: A long-standing challenge at the interface of chemistry, biology, and precision medicine is to develop synthetic molecules that can enter cells and regulate the expression of specific genes, especially when these are involved in disease mechanisms. In this research line we design chemical modalities that can bind to any given DNA sequence and activate or block the transcription of specific genes. The synthetic transcription factors are engineered to be cell penetrating and stable under physiological conditions. Within this research line we pursue chemistry based efforts for compound development and optimization, as well as biological efforts, in which the synthetic transcription factors are used to control gene expression and to understand intriguing phenomena, such as phase separated transcriptional condensate behavior.​

Combinatorial drug discovery: The identification of novel bioactive molecules is fundamental for any drug discovery campaign. We develop combinatorial synthesis procedures for drug-like chemical modalities. Compound libraries with millions of members are used to identify high affinity ligands to therapeutically relevant targets. Smart library design strategies enable the decoding of hit compounds by mass spectrometry. Drug targets investigated by the Pomplun Lab include transcription factors, non-coding RNAs and viral proteins. Researchers involved in this research line develop novel combinatorial synthesis procedures, develop high throughput assays and use experimental and computational medicinal chemistry technologies for hit-to-lead optimization.

Brief CV: Sebastian Pomplun studied Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technologies at the University Sapienza, in Rome. In his doctoral studies in organic and medicinal chemistry at the Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry in Munich (supervised by Prof. Felix Hausch) he developed asymmetric synthesis strategies for caged bicylic inhibitors of the psychiatric risk factor protein FKBP51. The resulting PhD thesis was awarded with Summa cum Laude in 2015. Sebastian then joined the Chemistry R&D department of Roche Diagnostics GmbH in Penzberg, Germany, as a postdoctoral research scientist. He developed novel bioconjugation reagents, cleavable linkers for peptides and functional building blocks for nanopore sequencing strategies. In 2019 Sebastian received a postdoctoral fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and joined the Pentelute Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, USA. At MIT he worked on rational and combinatorial strategies for the discovery of biohybrid molecules targeting disease related nucleic acids. In September 2021 Sebastian started as a tenure track assistant professor at the Leiden academic center for drug research (LACDR) at Leiden University.


Associate professor

  • Science
  • Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research
  • LACDR/Medicinal Chemistry

Work address

Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden
Room number GE4.19



  • Private Scientific consulting
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