Symposium 2019 ‘A Chemical Journey’

Chairman of the Day

Prof. dr. Kees Hummelen

●        University of Groningen

●        Chairman of the Chemistry of (Bio-)Molecular Materials and Devices group


Prof. dr. Marleen Kamperman 

●        University of Groningen

Prof. dr. Max von Delius (Stratingh Speaker)

●        University of Ulm

●        Dynamic covalent chemistry

Dr. Jeffrey Buter

●        University of Groningen

●        Natural product synthesis, mycobacterium tuberculose

Dr. Gabriella Pizzuti

●        Alcami corporation head of development

●        Former PhD student under supervision of Prof. dr. Ben Feringa.

Dr. Arno Hazekamp

●    Hazekamp Herbal Consulting    

●     Medicinal and cannabis chemistry


Bioinspired Materials Design

Marleen Kamperman

Biological systems often exhibit excellent control and diversity in their structural design. Structural variations from the atomic scale all the way to the macroscale are tailored to create combinations of properties that are well-adapted to their purposes. As nature evolved to remarkable and complex designs, synthetic bioinspired materials are evolving towards new levels of complexity. In this talk I will discuss different bioinspired systems that I worked on over the last 15 years: from diatoms to geckos and from mussels to velvet worms. 

I will highlight our recent developments in mimicking the adhesive secretions of sandcastle worms by creating fully synthetic polymeric systems. Characteristic of the proteins found in the sandcastle worm adhesive is a high proportion of cationic, anionic and catecholic residues (hydroxylated tyrosine, DOPA). DOPA is involved in a versatile combination of functions: covalent crosslinking, complexation to mineral substrates, and bonding to hydrophobic (fouled) surfaces. The anionic and cationic residues form complexes, so-called complex coacervates. Complex coacervates have very low surface tensions, are water insoluble and are highly viscoelastic, which makes them highly desirable for underwater adhesives. We aim to reproduce the working mechanism of sandcastle worms by developing a new class of underwater adhesives based on complex coacervates reinforced with physical interactions.


On a Few Ups and Downs in the Journey of a Dynamic Covalent Chemist
Max von Delius

Dynamic covalent chemistry (DCC) is a powerful tool for probing non-covalent interactions, identifying ligands for medicinally relevant biological targets, making use of the feature of “error correction” and to explore emergent behaviour in complex chemical networks.[1]

In this semi-autobiographic talk, I will describe a few pivotal moments during my personal chemical journey. I will go all the way back in time to the year 2005 and share some formidable disappointments as well as “eureka” moments from my PhD[2] and postdoc periods.

I will then talk about an “explorer’s journey” that I have made with members of my research group since 2013: we found out that O,O,O-orthoesters are an interesting addition to the toolbox of DCC[3a] and managed to use this chemistry to prepare supramolecular hosts, in which orthoesters act as tripodal bridgeheads.[3b] Due to their unique structure, these compounds exhibit unusual properties, including tunable, pH-dependent hydrolysis.[3c] Most notably, dynamic orthoester architectures offer an elegant entry to experiments, in which a metal ion selects its preferred host from a dynamic mixture of competing subcomponents,[3d] and some examples are even inherently dynamic and adaptive.[3e] I will close the talk by speculating on where this journey may lead next. 



[1]   J. Li, P. Nowak, S. Otto, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 9222.

[2]   M. von Delius, E. M. Geertsema, D. A. Leigh, Nat. Chem. 2010, 2, 96.

[3]   (a) R.-C. Brachvogel, M. von Delius, Chem. Sci. 2015, 6, 1399. (b) R.-C. Brachvogel, F. Hampel, M. von Delius, Nat. Commun. 2015, 6, 7129. (c) H. Löw, E. Mena-Osteritz, M. von Delius, Chem. Sci. 2018, 9, 4785. (d) O. Shyshov, R.-C. Brachvogel, T. Bachmann, R. Srikantharajah, D. Segets, F. Hampel, R. Puchta, M. von Delius, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 776. (e) X. Wang, O. Shyshov, M. Hanževački, C. M. Jäger, M. von Delius, X. Wang, O. Shyshov, M. Hanževački, C. M. Jäger, M. von Delius, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019, 141, 8868.

A Journey from Chemistry to Immunology: The Discovery of a Mycobacterial antacid

Jeffrey Buter

A career is flexible. It is not simply a straight path that you walk but rather a path with a lot of turns, twists, and, sometimes, dead-ends and rerouting. A career path is also not a path you walk entirely alone. You will meet people along your journey who will guide you and play a crucial role in your decision making.

In my presentation I will tell you how ‘bad luck’, advises, collaboration and opportunities shaped my career in unexpected ways. Throughout my journey, the tuberculosis disease started to play a central role and I will tell you how I was involved in the discovery of a mycobacterial antacid.


Buter et. al. Stereoselective Synthesis of 1-Tuberculosinyl Adenosine; a Virulence Factor of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. J. Org. Chem., 2016, 15, 6686.

Buter et. al Mycobacterium tuberculosis releases an antacid that remodels phagosomes. Nat. Chem. Biol., 2019, 15, 889.

Think different, Do different, Be different

Gabriella Pizzuti


Dear students,

How are you? I hope that you are enjoying this special period of your life! A period in which you grow intellectually and on a personal level into an independent adult. Not very long from now you will enter the job market. Maybe you have already had your first acquaintance with it as a part-time job beside your studies. My entrance in the workforce was somewhat of an ice cold shower! After my PhD I joined the pharmaceutical industry: I went from mg experiments to hundreds of grams, column chromatography didn’t seem to be a viable option anymore and, even more unsettling, I got a team of older and experienced people that reported to me. Add to this the requirement of speaking Dutch, which I had smoothly avoided during the PhD years, and you get the idea. In the meanwhile 11 years have passed: I learnt the secrets of scale-up and pharmaceutical commercial production, I got more and bigger teams to lead and I Iearnt to speak Dutch with un unmistakable Italian accent.

How will be your entrance in the job market? How will your career evolve? Will you realize your dreams? I cannot tell but I can tell you what I experienced along the years, what that taught me and what I think you should be expecting. I hope that sharing my story with you, will help you to find your way.

Who am I? Maria Gabriella Pizzuti, born in Potenza, Italy, in 1979. I have been together with Toon for 15 years and I have two fantastic daughters, Mila (7) and Elena (2). After graduating in chemistry, I moved to the Netherlands and joined the Feringa group in 2004. After completing my PhD, I joined Schering & Plough in 2008 as group leader in the process development department. 3 years later, I changed function to be involved with sourcing of strategic starting materials for pharmaceutical production. The next step in my career came when Aspen Pharma acquired part of the company and I was asked to lead the chemical engineering department of one of the production sites in Oss. After 5 years in that position I felt I was ready for a new challenge and so I moved to Alcami Corporation where I am currently covering the function of Head of the Research & Development department. 


Arno Hazekamp

Dr. Arno Hazekamp (1976) studied at Leiden University, the Netherlands, where he received his Bachelor’s from the School of Biology, followed by a Master’s from the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (1994-2000). After graduating with honors, he did the very first PhD study on the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant in The Netherlands (2001-2007), working under the celebrated Prof. Rob Verpoorte. During his research, Arno collaborated closely with the only legal cannabis grower in Europe (Bedrocan BV) and actively participated in the medicinal cannabis program of the Dutch Health Ministry. During his PhD, Arno became a strong advocate of a more science-based approach on the medicinal use of cannabis.

After his PhD, Arno continued to have a strong interest in the medicinal use of cannabis, with a specific focus on controlled cultivation, quality control, and safe access for medical patients. Arno was a board member (2009-2011) of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM). He is an active traveler and lecturer, and is considered a professionally trained medicinal cannabis advocate. Arno became the Head of Research and Education (R&E) of Bedrocan International, where he spearheaded many scientific studies with medicinal cannabis, including development of new cannabis varieties and better administration forms, improvement of quality control methodology, and the design of clinical studies with herbal cannabis (2011-2017).

Each year since 2011, Arno organizes the Masterclass Medicinal Cannabis, a week-long training event in the Netherlands that covers all aspects of medicinal cannabis use. Early 2017, Arno became an independent consultant for regulators, cultivators and product developers in the cannabis industry, under the name Hazekamp Herbal Consulting. Arno has published over 30 scientific papers on various aspects of medicinal cannabis, and is often asked as an expert on medicinal cannabis topics in the media.

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