Research in the Bonger lab has two pillars. One goal is to design and synthesize molecular to understand and influence fundamental cellular processes. The other aim is to develop new therapeutic methods to deliver drugs specifically to the required location in the body.
Bonger studied at the VU University in Amsterdam where she trained as a synthetic organic chemist and obtained a PhD at the University of Leiden in medicinal and synthetic organic chemistry. After a few years of research work at Stanford University in California (USA), she started working at Radboud University in 2013. Bonger lives with her family in Nijmegen.
We interview her about her research field, her background and herself.
How did you end up in the field of chemical biology?
“I worked in the biology research field for the first time when I did my PhD in medicinal and synthetic organic chemistry. I was fascinated to know how a cell functions on a molecular level and how our cells work together to ultimately form life. I really like the combination of chemistry and biology because you are able to design and make molecules to understand and influence certain cellular processes in order to study the relationship to diseases. “I got my job at Radboud University through the Sector plans funding from the government. We moved from California to Nijmegen.
My main interest lies in understanding (auto) immunological diseases such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. I also focus on medicinal chemistry. We develop methods to bring medicines specifically to the part in the body where the disease is located. Therefore we can achieve the same effect but with a lower dose and fewer side effects and give patients a better quality of life.”
Why are you fascinated by science?
“My work is innovative; my studies have never been done by anyone else. Much is still unknown about the functioning of a cell and the development of certain diseases. What I do is useful. We can contribute and improve the patients’ quality of life. Also, I enjoy working with young people. Chemical biology is a relatively new field; it is students popular among students. They are involved in the early stages of drug development, which can ultimately cure patients. I like it when students become enthusiastic about my research project, because they are the researchers of tomorrow.”