VU University Amsterdam

The Division of Medicinal Chemistry is focusing on structure-based drug design, and in particular on Fragment-Based Lead Discovery (FBLD). 

Fragment-based approaches are ideal for academic and small bio-tech drug discovery efforts, as these technologies are design intensive. The division has established a fragment library containing 1500 low molecular weight compounds. Currently, this library is effectively used to develop ligands against a variety of targets: GPCRs, kinases, ligand-gated ion channels, protein-protein interactions, etc.

The medicinal chemistry group will move to a brand new building in the heart of the VU University campus. These new premises, called the O|2 lab building, will offer the life sciences research groups of the university state-of-the-art facilities. The Institute supports state-of-the art core facilities, which facilitate the performance of cutting edge (bio)chemical research with both basic and translational scientific value. The academic group has access to industry standard as well as proprietary molecular modelling software, biochemical and biophysical screening technologies and ample organic synthesis facilities.

Website link: VU University

Staff involved in this project:
Prof. Iwan de Esch (Fragnet Coordinator)

Prof. Iwan de Esch (Fragnet Coordinator) – did his PhD research at the Department of Pharmacochemistry, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In 1998, he became research associate at the Drug Design Group of the University of Cambridge. Dr de Esch is a co-founder of De Novo Pharmaceuticals (2000) where he worked as a group and project leader. Dr de Esch returned to academia in 2003 and is now professor at the Medicinal Chemistry Department. The group focuses on two research lines, namely G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and fragment-based lead discovery (FBLD). Iwan is interested in applying FBDD approaches for lead discovery on a wide variety of targets (including GPCRs, kinases, PDEs and PPIs) and to use fragment-based approaches to study the ligand-protein binding event (in terms of affinity, thermodynamics and kinetics). Dr. de Esch is co-founder of IOTA Pharmaceuticals Ltd (2007) and Griffin Discoveries BV (2009). In 2011, he was awarded the Galenus Research Price for his work on FBLD.

Contact details

Please contact us at:

FRAGNET Coordinator
VU University Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Funded by

Marie Curie Actions

EU Horizon 2020

European Union