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
Luc Brunsveld, chemical biology
Mario van der Stelt, molecular physiology
Antoinette Killian, membrane chemistry and biophysics
Ariane Briegel, cryo-electron microscopy
Jocelyne Vreede, molecular simulation of proteins and DNA
Kim Bonger, biomolecular chemistry
Anastassis Perrakis, structure and function of macromolecules
Govert Somsen, biomolecular analysis

NWO secretary: Nadine Mascini

Working group 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.


Have you not yet registered for an working group? The NWO Chemistry Round Table invites researchers to register for membership of one or, at most, two working grouops. There is a form on the website for this purpose. Members are professors at a Dutch university or institute, academic employees (such as associate or assistant professors) at a Dutch university or institute with a permanent contract, senior researchers from industry, academic employees on a temporary appointment at a Dutch university or institute at Vidi level (or equivalent) or higher, and senior researchers employed outside the Netherlands with a particular affinity with the sub-field in the Netherlands.

Registration is possible at any time.
By submitting your membership you agree that NWO can use your information to inform you and consult you on matters related to NWO, Chemistry and your selected working groups. You name and affiliation can also be shared with the Round Table Chemistry and the working group committees of Chemistry.

Contact/more information

Eveline Mezger,