Professor of Organic Chemistry Ben Feringa and Professor of Polymer Chemistry and Bioengineering Andreas Herrmann have each been awarded a EUR 2.5 million ERC Advanced Grant by the European Research Council. This is Feringa’s second Advanced Grant: he also received one in 2008.
new ERC project
will continue his work on light-driven molecular motors. His aim is to be able to control them precisely so that they can be used to produce smart materials that respond to light.
will work on a simple way to make complex molecules. Such molecules are needed as a basis for drug development.
In his new ERC project, Feringa will continue his work on the unique properties of unidirectional light-driven molecular motors. His aim is to control the function of the motors and make them responsive. The emphasis here lies on motors that can work in water.
Light-driven molecular motors differ from most molecular switches in that they can enter a series of functional states in response to light. Continuous light induces a continuous rotary motion that can be used to design a dynamic system or responsive materials that can be driven out of equilibrium.
Feringa has developed an ambitious research programme that is hoped will result in a method to control complex nanomechanical systems. In the long term, this could lead to innovative new applications varying from materials that respond to a stimulus to the ability to control biomolecular systems in space and time.
In his ERC project, Andreas Herrmann will research a simple method to make complex molecules that can serve as a basis for drug development. Herrmann will use aptamers, small DNA or RNA molecules that bind to a specific part of a molecule. They thus act as a shield to that part of the molecule, which makes it simple to target the remaining parts for chemical modification.
Herrmann wants to further develop this technique in order to produce new molecules that cannot be produced with standard synthetic chemistry. He also wants to develop reagents that are suited to reactions with aptamers. In addition, he is looking for a way to control where in the molecule the reaction takes place.
Herrmann’s long-term aim is to be able to modify molecules in a targeted and controlled fashion. The molecules that he produces with this technology will be suitable for the development not only of new drugs but also of compounds based on natural products that can be used in bio-imaging, the imaging of living objects.
The University of Groningen (UG) will soon have a new Bachelor’s degree programme on offer: Biomedical Engineering.
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