LUMC Research themes

Academic Pharma

Academic pharma focus on the discovery and development of innovative and new medicinal products (or new targets) and repurposing already existing medicinal products. These innovative medicinal products will strongly contribute to the advancement of health care.

Vision and mission

Most medicinal products available are the result of:

  • academia delivering new knowledge based on biomedical and chemical research.
  • pharmaceutical companies that further develop these new insights in safe and effective medicinal products.

However, there are only a few examples of effective collaborations between academia and industry that resulted in registered medicinal products. That these collaborations are unsuccessful is, in part, caused by differences in culture and goals between these sectors. In addition to this problem, there is limited interest in developing medicinal products for extremely rare diseases or in patent-expired products.

To address these problems there is a need for a more active involvement of academia in the discovery and development of new medicinal products, and setting up collaborations with industry in which academia plays a more prominent role.

In Leiden there is excellent research performed at the Leiden University, the Centre for Human Drug Research and the Leiden University Medical Centre. These parties are all located in the Leiden Bio Science Park in the vicinity of pharma companies and biotech-start-ups. This is an excellent environment for an active role of academia in the discovery of new targets, and (clinical) development of medicinal products.

“In Leiden all expertise and facilities for design, development and testing of new innovative medicine are present.”

About us

Jacques (Sjaak) Neefjes, Professor of Chemical Immunology


Neefjes-SjaakJacques (Sjaak) Neefjes is Professor of Chemical Immunology and head of the Department of Cell and Chemical Biology. One of the topics where Sjaaks research focuses on is understanding the working mechanism of anti-cancer medicine. This knowledge can improve medicines or diminish the toxic side effects of the medicines. Recently, his team discovered that chemically changing the chemotherapy doxorubicin, made it less cardiotoxic. This new compound, N,N-dimethyldoxorubicin is now further developed under academic pharma.


Teun van Gelder, Professor in Clinical Pharmacology


Gelder-Teun_vanTeun van Gelder was trained in internal medicine, nephrology and clinical pharmacology. Ever since he has been involved in the clinical development of several innovative drugs, and in developing personalised treatment strategies, based on novel therapeutic drug monitoring strategies and on clinical implementation of pharmacogenetics. In December 2019, he was appointed as professor in clinical pharmacology, in particular Drug Discovery & Development at the LUMC. One of his goals is to set up a clinical research unit, which makes it possible to conduct early phase medicinal product studies in patients.


Laurel Schunselaar, Postdoc researcher


Schunselaar-LaurelLaurel Schunselaar works as post-doc in the LUMC. She leads multiple projects within academic pharma, including a multicentre phase III trial of the new chemotherapy aclarubicin in acute myeloid leukemia, a LUMC phase I trial of aclarubicin in uveal melanoma and the N,N-dimethyldoxorubicin project. Within these projects she is responsible for outsourced non-clinical research and setting up clinical studies. In addition, she interacts with regulatory authorities and ethics committees to support the desired indication and market approval. 


Research collaborations and alliances

Paul Janssen Futurelab develops international online and on campus learning-by-doing courses for entrepreneurial biomedical professionals working in academia, start-ups, industry and at authorities. Collaboration between the LUMC and Paul Janssen Futurelab improves processes for discovery and development of new medicinal products.

Read more about Paul Janssen Futurelab.


For businesses

With Academic Pharma we aim to bring new medicinal products to the market. The full clinical development will not be done by Academic Pharma in Leiden alone, but in collaboration with the industry. If you are interested in setting up a collaboration, please contact us.


For PhDs and Postdocs

We are designing a PhD/ postdoc program within Academic Pharma at the moment. The program focuses on interdisciplinary PhD-students/ postdoc or PhD-student/ postdoc teams that work on discovery, development, social, or legal aspects within Academic Pharma. If you are interested in a PhD or postdoc position let us know what you would like to accomplish within academic pharma.


For Students

For students we have multiple master internships available. We offer opportunities in the field of discovery, non-clinical development, clinical development and regulation.  Let us know what kind of internship you are looking for, and in which field or fields.



The development of new medicinal products involves many aspects. It all starts with the discovery of a new medicinal target or candidate medicinal product. To further develop the candidate medicinal product it is important that it is properly protected.

Often the chemical or biological candidate can be tested  in cells and animals, but it is not yet suitable for use in humans. A new production process according to good manufacturing practice (GMP) is necessary. With more patients receiving personalised treatment, there is a need for innovations in drug manufacturing. For further development of the candidate medicinal product, it is essential to define which non-clinical studies are important to conduct.

Clinical development is all about testing the drug in healthy volunteers / patients. Distribution in the body, safety and efficacy are amongst many topics that are tested in clinical trials. The ultimate goal for the medicinal product is market registration. To achieve this, the product must meet the requirements of the regulatory authorities.

Our sub-themes

Research and discovery
Non-clinical development
Clinical development
Regulation for market registration