ECHO grants for researchers Medicinal Chemistry and Theoretical Chemistry
The Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded Dr. Henry Vischer and Prof. dr. Rob Leurs of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry with an ECHO grant for their research line on G protein-coupled receptor signaling. Dr. Paola Gori-Giorgi of the Department of Theoretical Chemistry received an ECHO-STIP grant for her research line on transition metals.
05/14/2013 | 3:10 PM
Both research groups reside within the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems.
G protein-coupled receptor signaling
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) regulate cell function by activating responses within cells upon binding of an extracellular ligand. Recent research has revealed that ligands that bind to the same GPCR but are chemically distinct show so-called ligand biased signaling: they activate different signaling pathways linked to this GPCR. Other recent insights show that a given GPCR can trigger various responses in different cells by interacting with unique cell-type specific GPCR-interacting proteins. This principle is called interactome-biased signaling.
The emerging concepts of ligand- and interactome-biased GPCR activity add complexity to our understanding of biochemical signaling. This will eventually open up new opportunities in the rational discovery of novel, safer and more efficient drugs targeting GPCRs and their signaling networks involved in human diseases.
Vischer’s and Leurs’ project ‘Receptor signaling: it’s all about protein-protein interactions’ aims to elucidate the biochemical consequences of ligand- and interactome-biased GPCR signaling. With the awarded ECHO grant, they will develop innovative and flexible fluorescence- and bioluminescence-based tools to simultaneously explore both concepts in living cells in a semi-high throughput platform.
Transition metals are the workhorses of chemistry: they are omnipresent in catalysis and make chemical reactions faster, more environment friendly and cheaper. For all these reasons, accurate predictions of the properties of systems containing transition metals are of invaluable importance. At present, the predictive power of computational chemistry when dealing with transition metals is hampered by the lack of accuracy of the relevant electronic structure calculations.
Gori-Giorgi’s project aims at solving many of these problems by using a new density functional theory approach. The research is designed to deal with strong-correlation effects inherent to the description of transition metals. She will also utilize this approach within the time-dependent domain to target an accurate description of excitations that lie at the very heart of photochemistry.
The ECHO-STIP grant funds Gori-Giorgi’s project ‘The strictly-correlated-electrons approach at work for chemistry: density functionals for transition metals and accurate excitation energies’ and offers payment for one PhD student.