Peptides and proteins are essential for life and are the foundation for many research fields. Scientists are often interested in protein functions, e.g. to improve the activity of proteins or to understand their mode of action. The chemical synthesis of these important biomolecules heavily relies on solid-phase peptide synthesis (SPPS). Although this technology has made peptide synthesis available even to non-chemists, in my opinion SPPS is in need of fundamental changes to solve issues like toxic reagents/solvents and the chain length. Therefore, my research focusses on the development of new synthetic methodologies that allow the construction of longer peptide chains in a more sustainable process. My vision is to use these chemical protein synthesis tools in the synthesis of polymeric peptide materials
We are currently focusing on the following research topics:
- A biomimetic approach to synthesize peptides and proteins
The synthetic approach of nature makes it seem so simple, but the synthetic alternative developed by chemists is far from the same level of elegance and efficiency. That is why we propose an alternative peptide and protein synthesis strategy, inspired by nature, which develops the field in a more sustainable way. Unlike current SPPS, we focus on a process that allows the synthesis of proteins in the N-to-C direction.
- Diastereoselective Ugi reactions to synthesize proline-rich (poly)peptides
By applying highly diastereoselective Ugi-type three component reactions with chiral 1-pyrrolines, we can efficiently introduce proline analogues in (poly)peptide chains. In this research line, we would like to use these analogues to make synthetic peptide materials.
- Novel chemical ligations strategy towards proteins
(Native) chemical ligation is a powerful strategy to stitch peptide fragments together to generate proteins. In our lab, we are developing new ligation methodologies focusing on alternative disconnections in the protein sequence.
Prizes & Awards
- 2011: Graduated Cum Laude in BSc chemistry
- 2014: Graduated Cum Laude in MSc: Molecular Design, Synthesis and Catalysis
- 2020: NWO ENW-XS grant “Learning from nature to synthesize peptides and proteins”
- 2021: NWO KIEM GoChem in collaboration with EnzyTag
- 2022: NWO KIEM GoChem in collaboration with Incircular