Prestigious EU Grants for RWTH Researchers


Professors Twan Lammers and Franziska Schoenebeck have been awarded Consolidator Grants from the European Research Council.


ERC Consolidator Grants are among the most valuable and prestigious research grants in Europe. Awarded by the European Research Council, they are designed to support excellent scientists at the career stage at which they may still be consolidating their own independent research team or program. Applicant researchers must demonstrate the ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility of their scientific proposal. Consolidator Grants may be awarded up to two million euros for a period of five years.

  Four persons in front of a computer screen looking into the camera Copyright: © Peter Winandy Professor Twan Lammers and his team

Professor Twan Lammers
Nanomedicines and Theranostics Group

Meta-Targeting – Macro-Nanomedicine to Treat Metastatic Cancer

Metastatic cancer is a complex disease that is very difficult to treat. The aim of the Meta-Targeting project is to establish a holistic nanomedicine-based approach to improve the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

A key objective is the development of polymeric micelles which can be efficiently and stably co-loaded with three different drugs and with an imaging agent. This treatment approach is to be complemented by the use of physical and pharmacological means to modulate the vasculature and microenvironment in tumors and metastases. Furthermore, the project seeks to identify imaging- and biopsybased biomarkers for patient selection; incorporate drugs to overcome cellular and microenvironmental multidrug resistance, and implement multifunctional micelles to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy.

A further objective is to load micelles with doxorubicin prodrugs to induce immunogenic cell death in tumors and metastases without causing systemic immunodepression. Physical priming with ultrasound and microbubbles will promote the delivery of micelles, antibodies and T cells to and into primary tumors. Imaging- and biopsy-based biomarkers are needed to allow for patient stratification, which is critically important to improve the clinical translation of cancer nanomedicines.

The measures and outcomes of the different project lines in Meta-Targeting are expected to significantly improve the treatment of metastatic cancer, in particular when applied in combination.

Short CV – Twan Lammers

Twan Lammers obtained a DSc degree in Radiation Oncology from Heidelberg University in 2008 and a doctoral degree in Pharmaceutics from Utrecht University in 2009. In 2009, he became a research group leader at the Institute for Experimental Molecular Imaging at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen; in 2014, he was appointed University Professor of Nanomedicines and Theranostics.

Twan Lammers has published over 100 research articles and reviews, and he has received several grants and awards, including an ERC Starting Grant in 2012. In 2015 and again in 2018, he has received Proof of Concept funding from the European Research Council. His key research area is image-guided and targeted drug delivery.

  Copyright: © IOC/RWTH Aachen

Professor Franziska Schoenebeck
Chair of Organic Chemistry I

Metalloradical Catalysis – From Fundamental Studies to Applications (MetalloRadiCat)

Over the past decades, metal catalysis has had a tremendous impact in chemistry, its adjacent disciplines and society overall, having gained an omnipresence in academic and industrial research worldwide. Numerous previously unthinkable transformations can nowadays be achieved in a selective and relatively mild manner owing to the metals' unique ability to trigger bond-making and breaking via pathways and principles that are inaccessible to metal-free processes.

In this context, the global community has focused primarily on closed-shell, two electron processes for synthetic transformations. By comparison, the field of metalloradical catalysis has seen much less development, although metalloradicals are nature's preferred species to tame radical reactivities under non-precious metal-catalysis in numerous metalloenzymes. This is likely due to our currently limited understanding of metalloradical reactivity and its associated principles, and as such also limited ability to rationally design metalloradical catalysts and catalytic processes. A multidisciplinary approach, which capitalizes on the principles and insights of organic, organometallic and biological processes, will likely be key to meet the next frontier in this promising field.

The key objective of the MetalloRadiCat project is to combine the tools of mechanistic, computational and synthetic organic/organometallic chemistry to explore catalysis with metalloradicals in synthesis, materials research and enzymatic processes. The project will investigate some of the most pertinent questions in relation to the emerging area of remote functionalizations for the selective synthetic access to tailored molecules, olefin migrations and manipulations, and naturally occurring (enzymatic) metalloradical-catalyzed processes in the context of methane production and activation.

Short CV – Franziska Schoenebeck

Between 2001 and 2004, Franziska Schoenebeck studied chemistry at TU Berlin and at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK. In 2008, she completed her doctorate at WestCHEM, the joint research school in chemistry of the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. Subsequently, she held a postdoctoral position as a Feodor Lynen Fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles, USA. In 2010, she joined the faculty of ETH Zurich as an Assistant Professor. In 2013, she was appointed Associate Professor at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at RWTH Aachen University and promoted to Full Professor and holder of the Chair of Organic Chemistry I in 2016.

Schoenebeck is the recipient of several grants and awards, including an ERC Starting Grant in 2014, the ORCHEM Prize for Young Investigators awarded by the German Chemical Society (GDCh), the "Dozentenpreis" from the Chemical Industry Fund, and the JPOC Award for Early Excellence in Physical Organic Chemistry. Her key research interests are at the interface of synthetic organic, mechanistic and computational chemistry with a strong emphasis in homogeneous metal catalysis.