Dr. ing. T. (Tom) Wennekes

David de Wiedgebouw
Universiteitsweg 99
Kamer 5.68
3584 CG Utrecht

Dr. ing. T. (Tom) Wennekes

Assistant Professor
Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery
+31 6 39 015 424
t.wennekes@uu.nl

Chemical Glycomicrobiology Lab  // Organic Synthesis + Glycobiology + Micro-organisms vs Us

All cells on earth have a complex and unique coat of glycans. Although greatly understudied, we already know that both in health and disease this sugary envelope plays a vital role in biological communication processes. Investigating the writing, editing and reading of this "sugar code" is key to deciphering it and finding ways to influence it. Tom Wennekes is assistant professor at Utrecht University and heads the ‘Chemical Glycobiology’ research group within the Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery Department. In his research, he develops smart glycan-based chemical probes, inhibitors and microarray technologies to illuminate and perturb the role of glycans, and the associated glycan writer, reader and eraser proteins involved in their life-cycle, with a focus on their role in symbiotic and pathogenic interactions in the human (gut) microbiome and in the plant rhizosphere. His research has already resulted in a glycan-based small molecule antiviral with a novel mechanism-based mode of action for treatment of influenza that is currently nearing clinical trials. He has already published 53 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, including Science, PNAS and Angewandte Chemie, of which 10 as first author and 15 as corresponding author. In total, these publications have been cited over 2000 times and his H-index is 23. He has obtained several competitive personal research grants (e.g. NWO VENI & VIDI) and collaborative grants (NWO BBOL; EU ITN coordinator) and is the recipient of the KNCV Pharmacochemistry award for best medicinal chemistry PhD thesis in the Netherlands (2009) and the Wiley-VCH Young Investigator Award at the International Carbohydrate Symposium (2012). Tom also enjoys the challenge of getting primary school kids enthusiastic about science at Junior Science Lab and Kids University. Tom is also a founding member of the Utrecht Young Academy through which he co-developed and organizes the "Waar of Niet Waar" (True or False?) program together with the UU Wetenschapsknooppunt & Universiteitsmuseum. In his studies he applies a unique combination of expertise in synthetic bio-organic chemistry, surface chemistry and chemical biology approaches to glycosciences with the aim of gaining molecular level insight in glycobiology and develop new glycotherapeutics and diagnostics to tackle diseases involving host-pathogen interactions.