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Chemical Biology (CB)


Admission requirements

Core course in MSc Chemistry - Chemical Biology and MSc Life Science and Technology, elective course in MSc Chemistry - Energy & Sustainability,
For students with a BSc in MST, LST or equivalent. Basic knowledge of organic chemistry, biochemistry and biomolecular chemistry is required.


Chemical biology is a new interdisciplinary research field in which questions intrinsically rooted in biology are approached with solutions inherent to chemistry. Aim of this course is to provide an overview – based on original research papers – of the development of chemical biology research in the past 15 years, dating back to the early days of chemical biology research. Main focus is on organic chemistry in relation to biological research: the design and application of organic molecules for biological research, and making use of the organic chemistry properties of biomolecules in their study and manipulation. It should be noted that there are many chemistry disciplines (analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, structural chemistry to name a few) that contribute to chemical biology and thus the examples discussed here are by no means all encompassing. Organic chemistry, or the design of bioactive organic molecules, is the expertise of the bioorganic synthesis group and thus one of the focus areas of the Leiden chemical biology research. In this course this will be exemplified by case studies on examples from recent literature. The course serves to provide students with a general overview of the field, the advances made in chemical biology research and the challenges ahead of us. The course will also provide insight in the chemical biology research conducted at Leiden University.

Course Objectives

Students that have successfully completed this course

  • have knowledge of general strategies and the organic chemistry design behind chemical biology research

  • are able to make an independent analysis of scientific problems

  • are able to analyze and interpret relevant specialist literature

  • are able to formulate verifiable hypotheses

  • are able to critically reflect chemical biology research

  • are able to interrelate and integrate various areas of chemical biology research


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

Mode of instruction

In this course, which consists of 15 lectures, two or three original research papers on a specific topic will be discussed each lecture. Students are asked to read these prior to the lectures. Lectures and student presentations may be held online via Kaltura room if necessary by corona measures.

Assessment method

The final grade will be obtained by the sum of a written exam (90%) and student presentations (10%).
If the corona situation precludes a physical on-campus exam, the assessment will be online. If there are changes to the assessment method, these will be announced via Brightspace a minimum of 10 working days before the originally scheduled exam date.

Reading list

Chemical Biology, Herbert Waldmann and Petra Janning, Editors, Wiley, Fall 2014 and handouts (relevant publications)


Register for this course via uSis


Prof.dr. Hermen Overkleeft, Dr. Marta Artola Perez de Azanza


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.