Sylvestre Bonnet studies the coordination chemistry of metal complexes in biological and biomimetic environment. By combining inorganic synthesis and photochemistry he makes new light-activatable metal-based anticancer prodrugs for use as targeted anticancer agents with minimal side effects.
Sylvestre Bonnet obtained his PhD in 2005 at the University of Strasbourg, and moved to The Netherlands as a postdoctoral fellow, first in the group of Gerard van Koten (Utrecht), then with Jan Reedijk (Leiden). After obtaining a Veni grant in 2008 in the Chemical Biology group of Bert Klein Gebbink and Antoinette Killian (Utrecht) he moved to Leiden in 2009 where he started a Tenure Track position in Inorganic Chemistry. He obtained a Vidi grant in 2012 and an ERC Starting Grant in 2013, and became Associate Professor in 2015. His expertise lies at the crossing point between inorganic chemistry, photochemistry, and liposomes. His current research interests are light-activated anticancer metallodrugs, photocatalysis, and coordination chemistry at lipid bilayers.
Date of birth: 23 May 1976
2005 PhD, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Strasbourg, France, 27 September 2005
Thesis title: “Ru(terpy)(phen)(L)2+ complexes as a new tool towards light-controlled molecular machines”
Advisor: Prof. Dr. J.-P. Sauvage
2002 MSc in Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Strasbourg, France
Current and previous research positions
2015 – now Associate Professor in Inorganic Chemistry, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, the Netherlands
2009 – 2014 Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, The Netherlands
2008 – 2009 Postdoctoral Researcher, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (Prof. B. Klein Gebbink and Prof. A. Killian)
2007 – 2008 Postdoctoral Researcher, Leiden University, The Netherlands (Prof. J. Reedijk)
2005 – 2007 Postdoctoral Researcher, Utrecht University, The Netherlands (Prof. G. van Koten)
Grants, awards, recognitions since 2010
2015 Member of the Young Academy of Europe
2013 ERC Starting Grant (k€ 1,418)
2012 NWO-CW Vidi Grant (k€ 800)
2011 FOM TBSC Grant with E. Bouwman (Leiden) and G. Mul (Twente) (k€ 250)
Contribution to teaching and supervision
Teacher for two courses of the MSc Chemistry at Leiden University: Photochemistry, and Metals and Life.
Co-promotor of 11 PhD students, and supervisor of 3 postdoctoral fellows and 3 guest PhD students since 2011. Current employment of recent PhD students and postdocs: S.L.H. Hopkins, University of Oxford, UK; B. Siewert, University of Innsbruck, Austria; B. Limburg, University of Oxford, UK; S. Zheng, TU Delft, NL.
Supervisor of the research internship of 41 MSc students and 25 BSc students since 2009
Other responsibilities since 2010
- Board member of the NWO Working Group Lipids and biomembranes since 2014.
- Chair of the focus session “Metals in biology” at CHAINS2015 – The Dutch Chemistry Conference
- Co-chair of the coordination chemistry session of the Netherlands Catalysis and Coordination Chemistry Conference, Noordwijkerhout, 2015 and 2017
- Teaching Director of the HRSMC Excellence master’s programme “Sustainability: the molecular approach” (since 14 January 2015)
- Member of review panel for European Research Council, Department of Energy (DoE, USA), Fond National de la Recherche du Luxembourg, NRF – South African Research Funding Agency, Polish National Science Centre
- Managing Committee Member of the COST action CM1305 "Explicit Control Over Spin-states in Technology and Biochemistry" (since February 2014) and substitute member for the COST action CM1105 “Functional metal complexes that bind to biomolecules” (2012-2015)
- Member of the organising committee of the 5th HRSMC Photochemistry Summer School in Maastricht, The Netherlands (August 27-31, 2016)
- Member of the organising committee of the Advanced Metal-Organic Chemistry and Catalysis 2014 Summer School from HRSMC and NIOK in Deurne, The Netherlands (30th – July 4th June, 2014)
- Member of the organising committee of the Advanced Metal-Organic Chemistry 2010 Autumn School from HRSMC in Doorn, The Netherlands (27-29th September, 2010)
- Member of the International Advisory Board of European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry since January 2016
- Chairman of the institute council of the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (June 2013-December 2016)
- Elected member of the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Sciences of Leiden University (since May 2015)
- Member of the teaching committee (Onderwijs Commissie) of the MSc programme "Chemistry" at Leiden University (since 2013)
- External member to PhD committees in The Netherlands (9), France (3), Italy (2), and Switzerland (2).
- Reviewer for Nature Protocols, Chemical Science, Angewandte Chemie, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Chemical Communication, Chemistry a European Journal, and various inorganic, photochemistry, and supramolecular chemistry journals.
- Outreach: Jury member (since 2011) for the Bourses d'Excellence Descartes of the French Embassy in The Netherlands
- Outreach: participated FameLab competition
- Outreach: guest lecture “Chemie Onderzoek” for the programme "Beroepen en Talenten" at the elementary school Schreuder Instituut Amsterdam, 15 March 2013
Publication record including five recent representative publications
Ca. 62 papers with >1119 citations, H-index 20 (Web of Science)
- Rixel V.H.S. van, Siewert B., Hopkins S., Askes S.H.C., Busemann A., Siegler M.A., Bonnet S.A., Green light-induced apoptosis in cancer cells by a tetrapyridyl ruthenium prodrug offering two trans coordination sites. Chem. Sci. 2016, 7, 4922-4929
- Siewert B., Rixel V.H.S. van, Rooden E.J. van, Higgins S.L.H., Stelt M. van der, Bonnet S.A., Chemical Swarming: Depending on Concentration, an Amphiphilic Ruthenium Polypyridyl Complex Induces Cell Death via two different Mechanisms. Chem. Eur. J. 2016, 22, 10960-10968.
- Hopkins S.L., Siewert B., Askes S., Veldhuizen P., Zwier R., Heger M., Bonnet S.A., In vitro cell irradiation protocol for testing photopharmaceuticals and the effect of blue, green, and red light on human cancer cell lines. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2016, 15, 644-653.
- Limburg B., Wermink S., Nielsen S. van, Kortlever R., Koper M.T.M., Bouwman E., Bonnet S.A., Kinetics of photocatalytic water oxidation at liposomes: membrane anchoring stabilizes the photosensitizer. ACS Catalysis. 2016, 6, 5968-5977.
- Askes S.H.C., Bahreman A., Bonnet S.A., Activation of a Photodissociative Ruthenium Complex by Triplet–Triplet Annihilation Upconversion in Liposomes. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53(4), 1029-1033.
Presentations including five presentations at international conferences since 2010
>35 invited or keynote lectures at universities, institutes, and international conferences, and 19 oral communications at international conferences since 2010
- Light-induced apoptosis in cancer cells by a tetrapyridyl ruthenium prodrug offering two trans coordination sites, 42nd International Conference on Coordination Chemistry, 3-8 July 2016, Brest (France), invited lecture
- Photocatalytic oxidation of water at the surface of liposomes, PERSPECT-H2O COST final scientific meeting, 4-7 September 2016, Milazzo (Italy), keynote lecture
- Photosensitive liposomes for the light activation of metal complexes, 16th Netherlands’ Catalysis and Chemistry Conference, 2-4 March 2015, Noordwijkerhout (The Netherlands), keynote lecture
- Light activation of anticancer metallodrugs with blue, yellow, and red photons, 12th European BioInorganic Conference, 24-28 August 2014, Zürich (Switzerland), invited lecture
- Ruthenium complexes hopping at lipid bilayers via a light-sensitive supramolecular bond, 4th EuCheMS conference, 25-30 August 2012, Prague (Czech Republic), keynote lecture