Chemistry of Life

The research field Chemistry of Life studies and exploits the chemical principles and phenomena that underlie biological processes.

All living organisms use nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates as their basic building blocks of life, and a variety of small molecules such as metabolites, messengers, and energy carriers. Chemistry of Life studies the structure and function of these biomolecules and their role in biological processes at the molecular, cellular, and organismal level. The ultimate aim of the Chemistry of Life research field is to understand the fundamental molecular principles that govern life from microorganisms to humans and to apply that knowledge to improve human health and sustainable well-being. Conceptual, technological, and methodological advances drive the field forward. Key methods include the design, synthesis, characterization, and application of novel compounds and chemical systems, which are crucial for the development of biotechnological and medical applications. Chemistry of Life will contribute to society by discovering novel molecular processes and drugs to diagnose and treat disease, and modifying microorganisms to produce green chemicals and biofuels. Major breakthroughs within Chemistry of Life often require highly interdisciplinary research. The many disciplines within Chemistry of Life include (bio)organic and medicinal chemistry, analytical and macromolecular chemistry that relate to biological processes, bio- and cellular chemistry, structural and chemical biology, molecular biology, and biophysics.

Chemistry of Life advisory committee

The Chemistry of Life advisory committee gives solicited and unsolicited advice to the board of the NWO Science domain on proposals for new programmes. The committee also has a monitoring role regarding the progress of ongoing programmes.

The Chemistry of Life committee is made up of the following:

Fred van Leeuwen, chair, gene regulation  
Liesbeth Veenhoff, vice-chair, cellular biochemistry  
Kim Bonger, biomolecular chemistry  
Luc Brunsveld, chemical biology  
Bert Janssen, Structural biology of cell-cell adhesion and signaling  
Alexander Kros, drug delivery, chemical biology, lipids&membranes  
Govert Somsen, biomolecular analysis  
Mario van der Stelt, molecular physiology  
Jocelyne Vreede, molecular simulation of proteins and DNA  
Patrick van der Wel, NMR spectroscopy of biological systems  

NWO secretary: Nadine Mascini

Research community advisory committee duties and procedures

The advisory committees have the following tasks:

  • Identifying new developments in the sub-field of the advisory committee;
  • Maintaining contact with the research field;
  • Maintaining the network with the Dutch National Research Agenda, top sectors, the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society, etc.;
  • Monitoring the progress of ongoing research programmes, including advising the Chemistry Round Table at the conclusion of these programmes;
  • Monitoring ongoing research and existing facilities and new initiatives;
  • Helping shape and implement the NWO network and forum function in consultation with the field (during CHAINS, for example);
  • Giving unsolicited and solicited advice to the Chemistry Round Table and to the Science board.