Professor of Molecular Toxicology Nico Vermeulen says goodbye

On February 15, Nico Vermeulen officially says goodbye to VU Amsterdam with a scientific Symposium and a Farewell lecture, both entitled: Molecular Toxicology: Outlook on Insight?

02/02/2018 | 1:09 PM

"Side effects of medicines are still remarkably often unpredictable, despite very extensive preclinical and clinical research. That has regularly serious consequences, not only for patients, but also for the companies that have to withdraw the medicine from the market”, says Nico Vermeulen.

Clinically relevant side effects of medicines are common: 6-8% of hospital admissions is related to serious side effects. Moreover, the susceptibility to side effects of medicines varies greatly between individuals treated with it.

Towards safe medicines

In his Farewell lecture, Vermeulen will explain the development of Molecular toxicological research. He will outline the new challenges and perspectives during the discovery and development of safe new medicines. The Farewell lecture is part of the Scientific symposium 'Molecular Toxicology: Outlook on Insight?’.

Over 30 years ago, in 1987, Vermeulen argued in his Inaugural lecture for a new, more mechanistic approach to toxicological research, particularly at the molecular level. The Molecular Toxicology group of Vermeulen is internationally leading in the field of drug-toxicology research and education.


Nico Vermeulen studied Chemistry in Nijmegen (1969-1975) and subsequently obtained his PhD in Leiden (1980) from Professor Breimer on a subject related to Drug metabolism. In 1985, he was appointed professor of Molecular Toxicology at the age of 35 in the Department of Pharmacochemistry at VU Amsterdam.

Within VU Amsterdam, Nico Vermeulen was amongst others Head of the Molecular Toxicology Division (1985-2017), Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry (1997-2000), Head of the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences (2009-2015) and founder and Director of AIMMS, the Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems (2010-2017).

Outside VU Amsterdam, he served for example as president-elect, president and past president of ISSX, the International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics (2000-2005), organizer of the Joint 19th Microsomes & Drug Oxidation / 12th European ISSX meeting in Noordwijk (2012) and coordinator / manager of SafeSciMET, a large European IMI-JU consortium for Education & Training in translational drug safety sciences (2010-2016). He also has close contacts with Indonesian universities.

In addition, Vermeulen received the 'European Scientific Achievement Award' from ISSX (2006 Manchester), an Honorary doctorate from the University of Copenhagen (2011) and the 'Distinguished Service Award' from ISSX (2015, Busan), amongst others.

Vermeulen was promoter of 55 PhD students, currently counseling several more and is (co-)author of more than 430 scientific publications in the areas of (molecular) toxicology, bioanalysis and pharmacochemistry. He was listed several times on the ISI-highly cited scientists list (top 1%, e.g. in 2015).