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Molecules of Life (MOL)


Admission requirements

Elective course MSc Chemistry and MSc Life Science and Technology.

For students with basic knowledge of organic chemistry (BSc in Chemistry, Molecular Science and Technology, Life Science and Technology or a related discipline).


This course evolves around the synthesis of the naturally occurring biopolymers: carbohydrates, peptides, nucleic acids and hybrids thereof. These biopolymers play vital roles in life as we know it, and the course will teach how we can assemble well-defined fragments of these and apply these to answer biological questions and in therapeutic agents. Protecting group methodology and coupling strategies will be presented. Recent articles on these subjects will be discussed.

Course objectives

After the course the student should be able to:

  • Know the name, structure, one letter code of all proteinogenic amino acids;

  • Be able to design a chemoselective protecting group scheme for all amino acids;

  • Know the most common peptide coupling reagents;

  • Design a synthesis for a small peptide sequence;

  • Understand conformational behavior of carbohydrates;

  • Understand the reactivity of the different functional groups on a carbohydrate;

  • Be able to design a protecting group scheme to site-selectively mask the functional groups in a carbohydrate building block;

  • Understand the basics of glycosylation chemistry and factors influencing the stereochemical outcome of glycosylation chemistry;

  • Design a synthesis route for a (simple) oligosaccharide;

  • Understand phosphorous (III and V) chemistry;

  • Understand modern DNA and RNA chemistry;

  • Be able to design a route of synthesis for an oligonucleotide;

  • Combine peptide/carbohydrate and nucleic acid chemistry to synthesize hybrid structures.


Schedule information can be found on the website of the programmes.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of problem-solving sessions, rather than formal lectures. In weekly sessions, the structure and reactivity of organic compounds are discussed. Students prepare for these sessions by studying selected chapters from Organic Chemistry textbooks, as well as selected relevant papers from the literature.

Assessment method

Written exam (“closed book”)

Reading list

Handouts and papers from current literature.
Amino Acid & Peptide Synthesis, John Jones, 2nd edition, ISBN: 9780199257386


Register for this course via uSis


Jeroen Codee Dima Filippov


Biennial course. This course will not be offered in 2022-23.

According to OER article 4.8, students are entitled to view their marked examination for a period of 30 days following the publication of the results of a written examination. Students should contact the lecturer to make an appointment for such an inspection session.