Dr. Alexander Bakker WINS DUTCH MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY PRIZE 2021-2022
The winner of this year’s best Dutch medicinal chemistry and chemical biology thesis prize is entitled: “Discovery of Antibiotics and Their Targets in Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria”, by Dr. Alexander Bakker. The research was performed at the Institute of Biology Leiden and Leiden Institute of Chemistry of Leiden University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Nathaniel Martin and Prof. Dr. Mario van der Stelt. Dr. Alexander Bakker defended his thesis on December 7th 2022.
As the title implies, the winning thesis describes the discovery of a new class of antibiotics that resulted from a phenotypic screen. Overall the research described in the thesis is multidisciplinary, groundbreaking and impactful, all focused on finding new antibiotics against multi-drug resistant E. Coli. The research by Dr. Alexander Bakker describes molecules with novel modes of action, e.g. an allosteric inhibitor targeting an unprecedented pocket in DNA gyrase.
To that end, he has combined different research techniques ranging from synthetic organic chemistry, mutagenesis, antimicrobial activity assays and chemical proteomics that was all done by himself. At the point of printing his thesis, his research had resulted in twelve publications in top journals, including two under review where he is 1st author. In the meantime one of these has been accepted for publication in Journal of the American Chemical Society, while the other is still under review and served as fundament for a patent application, on which Alexander is named as an inventor. Moreover, the concluding chapter of his thesis showed that he was able to think beyond what he had done himself with a clear description of future prospects for his work. Lastly, Dr. Bakker demonstrated a skillful writing style and a high quality for layout and graphics. All in all it was a pleasure to read and an inspiring piece of work, showing that one cover many aspects of early drug discovery during a PhD.
In conclusion, the jury is confident that Dr. Bakker is a worthy winner of the 2021-2022 Medicinal Chemistry & Chemical Biology thesis prize, with a bright future ahead.