Prof. dr. ir. Pascal Jonkheijm has been awarded the KNCV Gold Medal 2018. “Jonkheijm is an outstanding chemist who effortlessly combines fundamental and applied research at the interface of chemistry and biology”, says Hermen Overkleeft, chairman of the Gold Medal Committee. The medal - the most prestigious Dutch recognition for excellent chemical talent – will officially be awarded on December 4 during the chemical conference CHAINS in Veldhoven.
Pascal Jonkheijm is professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Twente, where he works on the interface of supramolecular chemistry, materials science and cell biology. In doing so, Jonkheijm uses an engineering approach to design molecules and materials for fundamental research and use in bionanotechnology. "This is an extremely fascinating but very complex field of expertise, in which it is difficult to actually design and develop tangible and workable methods for biology," says Hermen Overkleeft, chairman of the jury for the Gold Medal 2018. "And it is precisely in this area that Jonkheijm has made great strides.”
After his PhD at the Eindhoven University of Technology - under the supervision of Professor Bert Meijer - Jonkheijm made the step to chemical biology. He took a postdoc-position at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund. In the group of Herbert Waldmann, Jonkheijm independently set up a research line aimed at protein immobilization, in which he developed both the bioorthogonal chemistry and the bionanotechnological applications. In 2008 he moved to the University of Twente where he set up his own research group. Jonkheijm has received several prestigious grants, including a Humboldt Fellowship, a Veni and Vidi grant and no less than three ERC Proof of Concept grants.
Jonkheijm is an international forerunner in the field of interfaces between supramolecular, self-assembling systems and biological systems. Jonkheijm's work is often cited and is the basis for many (international) collaborations and new research directions among fellow chemists, material and cell biological groups. This is reflected, among other things, in his impressive list of grants and publications. In addition to his research activities, Jonkheijm founded the startup Lipocoat, which is engaged in marketing its bio-inspired coatings for healthcare applications. "Jonkheijm is a figurehead for chemistry. He is a young, very successful chemist who independently develops a new field of molecular sciences in the Netherlands, who will certainly play a prominent senior role in chemistry in the Netherlands and beyond," says Overkleeft.
The KNCV Gold Medal is awarded annually to researchers who have distinguished themselves in one field of the chemical sciences. For this award only researchers younger than 40 are considered whom are expected to be dominant contributors in their areas of expertise. As of 1963 Dutch Chemical talent is recognized and honoured with the KNCV Gold Medal.
The official ceremony of this prestigious price takes place during CHAINS (CHemistry As INnovating Science,) a three day conference – from December 3 until December 5 - with an industrial and scientific scope.