Introduction

Ambitions (yes, we’re ambitious …)
Structured coffee break (courtesy Scripps Institute)

This very first page is a good place to mention our ambitions here at the Division of Medicinal Chemistry of Leiden University. We want to understand drug action at ‘high resolution’, thus at an almost atomic level. We want to use that understanding for a more rational approach of drug design. We have chosen the most important class of drug targets to work on, the G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Close to half of all medicines work via these targets in our body.

Well, one can’t study all receptors, as there are over 800 of them in the human body. So, we have selected a few to concentrate on, receptors for adenosine, for chemokines and for nicotinic acid. We pursue a ‘chemical biology’ approach, in which we combine synthetic chemistry, new developments in the world of informatics and computer science (bioinformatics, cheminformatics), and both biochemistry/molecular biology and pharmacology. That is quite ideal, as we now have in one hand all ingredients to come up with ideas for new drugs, make them, and see how they work.

Why don’t you read more about the fascinating four adenosine receptors? One may help to cure Parkinson’s disease, most are involved in the actions of caffeine…

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Highlights

Indira Nederpelt wins Young Investigator Award
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Indira Nederpelt was elected as the winner of the Young Investigator Award for best oral presentation titled ‘’Kinetic characterization of clinically used GnRH peptide agonists’’.

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Gerard van Westen 2013 Discoverer of the Year
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Former PhD student Gerard van Westen was granted the C.J. Kok Award also known as “Discoverer of the Year”. A festive ceremony took place at the Faculty’s New Year’s reception on January 7, 2014.

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Marjolein Soethoudt wins Unilever Research Prize
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Marjolein Soethoudt was awarded the Unilever Research Prize 2013 for the University of Leiden. The prize was bestowed upon her because of her thesis about her 9-months Master’s internship that she performed in the department from September 2011 until July 2012, in combination with her other study results. She graduated Cum Laude in the beginning of November this year.

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Annelien Zweemer wins three poster prizes during the annual TI Pharma Spring symposium, LACDR Spring symposium and the FIGON Dutch Medicine Days
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Annelien Zweemer was awarded three poster prizes for her poster ‘Discovery of an intracellular binding site for small molecule antagonists at the chemokine receptor CCR2’. She won the 1st poster prize at the TI Pharma Spring meeting in April and the LACDR Spring symposium in May. In October she won the 3rd poster prize during the FIGON Dutch Medicine Days.

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