The research at AIMMS focuses on the fundamental understanding of biological processes from molecules to networks. AIMMS integrates top-level chemical, pharmaceutical, biological and related medical sciences at the VU Amsterdam Campus. AIMMS comprises three central research programmes linked for optimal focus and efficiency.
Collaboration at the VU Campus
At the VU Campus, AIMMS supports collaboration with several other research centres, such as the VU-Drug Discovery Center (DDC), the Cancer Center Amsterdam (CCA/V-ICI), the Laser Center (LCVU)/BioFlash and the Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam (NCA). It is important to mention that the collaboration between AIMMS and other Life Sciences and VU Medical Centre (VUmc) research groups are yet to be evaluated and, if appropriate, formalised.
The faculty involved in AIMMS (Faculty of Science) has been developing strong links with the VU-faculties of Economics and Business Administration (FEWEB) and Social Sciences (FSW) with the joint development of a Bachelor’s and Master’s programme, Science, Business and Innovation (SBI). The programme represents an ideal starting point for developing the institute’s business dimension.
Participation in national research institutes
Outside the VU Campus, AIMMS groups play an important role in several other institutes, centres and research schools: the Leiden-Amsterdam Center for Drug Research (LACDR), the Holland Research School of Molecular Chemistry (HRSMC), the Amsterdam Center for Multiscale Modeling (ACMM), the Netherlands Research School Coordination Catalysis (NRSCC) and the Netherlands Institute for Systems Biology (NISB). In addition, AIMMS has consolidated its position by facilitating synergies with these centres and institutes. The embedding of AIMMS researchers’ research activities in these centres has already enhanced their visibility among both public and industrial sponsors.
Strong links between AIMMS and external stakeholders are an ideal basis for successful long-term funding while offering interesting new opportunities. Here are some of the current industrial partnerships of AIMMS research groups:
- Ablynx collaboration grant with Receptor Biochemistry/Medicinal Chemistry (Professors M. Smit and R. Leurs)
- Vertex Pharmaceuticals: collaboration with Molecular Toxicology in TI-Pharma (Prof. N. Vermeulen)
- BASF: Collaboration with Molecular Toxicology (Dr. C. Oostenbrink)
- Schering-Plough, Galapagos and other companies: collaboration Molecular Toxicology and Biomolecular Analysis (Professors N. Vermeulen and H. Irth)
- Shimadzu Biotech: collaboration with Biomolecular Analysis (Prof. H. Irth)
- Johnson & Johnson: collaboration with Structural Biology (Prof H. Lill)
AIMMS will actively pursue opportunities to valorise its scientific achievements, on a case-by-case basis. This includes looking for new ideas, setting up an valorisation agenda and development of an active patenting and exploitation strategy. To this end, AIMMS will work together with the VU/VU Technology Transfer Office as well as external consultants.
Some focused market scans may be necessary to develop a solid exploitation strategy for new and existing IP, including licensing, R&D industrial partnerships and/or spin-off creation.
The research areas related to the mission of AIMMS are of international importance. AIMMS contributes to these areas at an internationally recognised level, and its research programmes as well as many of its researchers have an outstanding international reputation. To realize an optimal international profile and recognition, AIMMS researchers publish in high-ranking international journals, present their work at international conferences, and interact with high-ranking research groups abroad. In addition, the ambition of AIMMS is to attract high-profile foreign scientists, as well as talented PhD students and post-docs. Furthermore, its participation in international studies, especially at the European level and funded by the European Commission’s Framework, will raise AIMMS’ international profile. All research groups within AIMMS participate in a wealth of international partnerships resulting in a high publication/fte ratio with high scientific impact scores.
The focus of AIMMS at the VU Campus is on basic molecular life sciences and application-directed research into drugs, therapeutics and molecular diagnostics. This research is served by state-of-the-art research facilities and technologies. Investment in ongoing externally funded projects has led to a significant improvement of the infrastructure in key research areas. The organisational and financial management of the large-scale facilities will remain with the Faculty of Science.
Valorisation of facilities
Strategic exploitation and valorisation of its state-of-the-art technologies and facilities is a special item on the AIMMS agenda, and will focus on opportunities to acquire external funding, including grants and fee-for-service activities, such as the current fee-for-service contract between Avantium and the Department of Chemistry & Pharmaceutical Sciences for advanced NMR and MS measurements. Valorisation of facilities will be considered further in collaboration with the VU/VUmc Technology Transfer Organisation.
AIMMS is currently involved in three spin-off projects in the Faculty of Science:
- Theoretical Chemistry participates in SCM: Scientific Computing & Modeling
- Molecular Microbiology participates in Xbrane, a spin-off of Stockholm University
- Medicinal Chemistry participates in IOTA Pharmaceuticals
A special item on the AIMMS valorisation agenda will be the creation of new spin-offs to exploit AIMMS-related scientific knowledge and expertise, technology facilities and services, and IP.