About the department


The mission of the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences is to be an internationally recognized research institute, performing cutting-edge chemical research in four key areas: 

  • Synthetic Chemistry & Catalysis

  • Computational Chemistry

  • Molecular Pharmaceutical Sciences

  • BioAnalytical Chemistry

The department has an outstanding research infrastructure and environment for talented scientists and students to achieve the highest possible standards in both research and teaching. The department also recognizes its role in society and maintains effective collaborations with for-profit and non-profit partners to valorize its academic resources.

Organization chart

organization chart MvdB

Synthetic Chemistry & Catalysis

The integrated study of chemical synthetic pathways and their underlying catalytic mechanisms lies at the heart of the discipline of chemistry. This discipline plays a key role in maintaining the competitive strength of the Dutch economy, via continued innovation within Dutch industry. Research at in the department is carried out at the Division of Organic Chemistry, in the groups of Prof. dr. Koop Lammertsma (Organic & Organometallic Chemistry) and Prof. dr. ir. Romano Orru (Synthetic & Bio-Organic Chemistry).

Computational Chemistry

Particularly at the interfaces of chemistry with biology and physics, challenging opportunities appear that make it possible to use a computational approach to further progress in predictive science. This applies especially to the description of life, and of new, complex, and bio-mimetic materials such as those appearing in catalysis and photosynthesis.

In Amsterdam, the integration of computational chemistry research and teaching activities has been achieved with the start of the Amsterdam Center for Multiscale Modeling (ACMM) in 2008. The VU contribution to the ACMM  is formed by the joint staff of the groups in the Division of Theoretical Chemistry, centered around Prof. dr. Luuk Visscher (Quantum Chemistry and Multiscale Modeling) and Prof. dr. Matthias Bickelhaupt (Theoretical Organic Chemistry and Biocatalysis). Within Europe, the combined expertise of the ACMM is unique; internationally few institutes of comparable depth and breadth exist, as is evident from accepted quality indicators like publication impact, recognition through prizes (Spinoza, four VICI's), memberships of academies and spin-off activities.

Molecular Pharmaceutical Sciences

Molecular Pharmaceutical Sciences is strongly focused on the molecular characterization of drug targets, the design of new drug leads and the establishment of key toxicological and pharmacological profiles in the early stages of drug discovery and development. Molecular Pharmaceutical Sciences represents an important part of the molecular research in the Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems and is supported by the chairs in Medicinal Chemistry (Prof. dr. Rob Leurs), Molecular Toxicology (Prof. dr. Nico Vermeulen) and Target and Systems Biochemistry (Prof. dr. Martine Smit). This research area is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading for pharmaceutical research, with substantial revenues from both governmental research programs (NWO, STW) and industry (TI Pharma, national and international pharmaceutical companies).

BioAnalytical Chemistry

Analytical sciences finds widespread application in vital areas of the Dutch economy. The research theme in the department is directed towards methodological innovation and increased information content to solve life science queries. It comprises activities on advanced sample preparation and separation techniques in combination with state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, optical spectroscopy and bio-activity detection. Hyphenation, integration, miniaturization and automation, are important aspects to face demands on selectivity, sensitivity, speed and data handling. The chair of Prof. dr. Somsen’s (BioMolecular Analysis) is focused on the development of novel analytical methodologies for the characterization, discovery and trace analysis of biologically active compounds. Prof. dr. Wuhrer’s chair (Analytics of Biomolecular Interactions) is devoted to the development of mass spectrometric techniques in glycomics and glycoproteomics.