Medicinal Chemist Saskia Nijmeijer receives Off-road grant from ZonMW

Dr Saskia Nijmeijer has been awarded an Off-road grant of €125.000 from ZonMW, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development, on 19 June.

06/22/2017 | 1:26 PM

The off-road grant allows her to initiate a novel and high-risk research project within her current research line on Adhesion G protein-coupled receptors. This research will be performed within the AIMMS Division of Medicinal Chemistry.

Adhesion G protein-coupled receptors
The GPCR family contains important targets for many (>30%) marketed drugs. Biochemical knowledge on the subfamily of Adhesion-GPCRs is however limited and to date no drugs target this receptor subfamily. Adhesion-GPCRs are located in the cell outer membrane and play a key role in cell-cell interactions (adhesion). Protein dysfunction can lead to disturbed cellular communication and non-controlled cell growth. Adhesion-GPCR research is currently challenging due to unknown extracellular ligands and non-explored signal transduction. Consequently, we are yet unable to modulate these receptors and investigate their physiological effects upon activation.

In this new research project, Nijmeijer aims to design Adhesion-GPCRs that can be activated by light. These light-activated proteins allow characterisation of biochemical and cellular functions of Adhesion-GPCRs, which could ultimately lead to novel therapies for diseases such as brain cancer.

Saskia Nijmeijer
Dr Saskia Nijmeijer obtained her PhD degree in 2013 for her research that focused on the pharmacological characterization of GPCR ligands. In 2014, Nijmeijer received an NWO-Veni grant to start her current research line in the Division of Medicinal Chemistry on the role of adhesion-GPCRs in glioblastoma.

ZonMW Off-Road
The aim of the ZonMW Off-Road program is to challenge young talented researchers to enforce unexpected breakthroughs in biomedical and/or health research. The focus of the off-road program is to develop an highly innovative idea to a proof-of-concept. The projects are high risk – high gain and are characterized by their out-of-the-box approaches.