Photoactivatable ligand tools for CXCR4 and ACKR3

Early stage researcher 1 (ESR1) project
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Rob Leurs, Prof. Dr. Iwan de Esch, Dr. Maikel Wijtmans
Host: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

I- Project proposal:

The project aims for the design, synthesis and photochemistry of novel photoswitchable ligands for the CXCR4 and ACKR3 chemokine receptors.

This project will entail the design, synthesis and photochemical characterization of photoswitchable small-molecule CXCR4 and ACKR3 ligands. A wide variety of chemical transformations, synthetic equipment and photochemical techniques will be employed to generate and analyze the ligands. The design of any new ligands can be supported by computer-aided drug design studies where necessary. In vitro and in vivo pharmacological assays on the ligands will be conducted by fellow ESR7.

Planned secondments:

Heptares – the candidate will use modelling for characterizing the binding site of developed tools in CXCR4 X-ray structure and ACKR3 models.

University Hospital Jena – the candidate will work on in vitro characterization of photoswitchable compounds using single cell microscopy methodology.


II – Requirement candidate:

Required diploma: A MSc degree in Chemistry (or related field) with a specialization in Synthetic Organic Chemistry and/or Synthetic Medicinal Chemistry.

Required expertise: Experience in the design and synthesis of biologically active compounds is a necessity. The candidate has a strong background (theoretical and practical) in synthetic organic chemistry or synthetic medicinal chemistry.

Recommended expertise: Expertise in photochemistry is a strong pre. Expertise in medicinal chemistry on GPCRs is a pre.

 Key publications:

  1. Hauwert et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 4232
  2. Hauwert et al., Angew. Chem. Intl. Ed. 2019, 58, 4531
  3. Gómez-Santacana et al., Angew. Chem. Intl. Ed. 2018, 57, 11608
  4. Gómez-Santacana et al., Beilstein Arch. 2019, doi:10.3762/bxiv.2019.69.v1

For more information:

Prof. Dr. Rob Leurs –

Prof. Dr. Iwan de Esch –

Dr. Maikel Wijtmans –



Apply here

Follow us on

Great way to finish the week off with some #FCS measurements of CXCR4-expressing HEK cells at @UoNLifeSci 🔬 #FluorescenceFriday

Hello everyone!
I am Noemi Karsai and I’m the next in our #ESR introduction series. I’m #ESR11 and I’m originally from Hungary, currently doing my PhD at @UoNLifeSci @COMPARE_UoBUoN, UK.

The transatlantic ECI GPCR symposium #ECIGPCR is about to start, we are ready!! Thanks to the organizers for their excellent job gathering almost 500 people across the globe! @cyclic_Andreas @NicoleAPerry1 @BenderSci @DesislavaNeshe1

Hello 🙂
I am here to continue the series in which all #ESRs are presenting themselves. I am Viviana Marolda and I am in my first year of PhD. I am #ESR13, originally from Italy, and currently, I am working as a PhD student in @CBMSO_CSIC_UAM, at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.

Hey twitter!
I am @DehanComez. I am taking over the Oncornet account for a while to start a series of all #ESRs writing about themselves and their projects. I am #ESR5, originally from Turkey and right now I am working as a PhD student in @COMPARE_UoBUoN , @UniofNottingham , UK.

New review on #gpcr structural dynamics out in COSB. Great teamwork with the @JanaSelent group. Thanks to @Lundbeckfonden and @novonordiskfond

ONCORNET2.0 is the successor to #ONCORNET. You can see some of the work of ESRs from the first ONCORNET in this special issue of @MolPharmJournal from 2019, with reviews on #CXCR4 and #ACKR3 structure and function:

Hi everyone – we’re on Twitter! ONCORNET2.0 is a #MarieCurie ITN of 16 ESRs across Europe studying #chemokine #GPCRs #CXCR4 and #ACKR3 in cancer. Our projects cover molecular dynamics, medchem, #pharmacology through to translational work. Follow us for updates from our ESRs!

Load More

Contact details

Please contact us at:

ONCORNET Coordinator
VU University Amsterdam
The Netherlands