In 2021, the Karlijn Keijzer Scriptieprijs was awarded to Matthew Maletic, a first-year MSc student of Drug Discovery and Safety (specializing in the Synthesis of Drugs track) at the VU. Last year, Matthew completed his BSc studies in Pharmaceutical Sciences (with honours) with a research project in the Medicinal Chemistry research division at the VU. During this internship, he synthesized aminopyrimidine derivatives that can be tested as potential binders for the main protease Mpro protein of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. As such, these compounds can help in increasing and diversifying the pool of potential SARS-CoV-2 Mpro inhibitors for future drug development. During his research internship, Matthew demonstrated his talent for conducting research and scientific writing. In his report, he eloquently described the path to FBDD (fragment-based drug discovery) in addition to the design, synthesis, and chemical analysis of his aminopyrimidine derivatives. He drew clear connections between the experimental observations and showed a critical and academic attitude towards his results.
In addition, Matthew has been an active member of the tutoring committee of the study association for Pharmaceutical Scientists at VU (VCSVU) and the international committee of the Royal Dutch Pharmaceutical Students Association (KNPSV). He also supervised class hours and practicum for BSc courses in Molecular Principles and Thermodynamics as a student assistant.
In 2020 the Karlijn Keijzer Scriptieprijs has been awarded to Femke Hendriks, a MSc student in Drug Discovery and Safety with a specialization in Drug Discovery and Safety Assessment. In the same year, Femke obtained her BSc degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences cum laude. During her BSc studies at the VU she carried out a research project within the research division of Molecular and Computational Toxicology, overcoming the challenging times of the first wave of COVID-19. With great dedication and accuracy, Femke analyzed transcriptomic data pertaining to the effects of aristolochic acid on culture human kidney cells. The data were previously obtained by her supervisor prof. Paul Jennings in experiments at the Medical University of Innsbruck, within the CarcinoGENOMICs project. Aristolochic acid is a frequent contaminant in many herbal products that are traditionally used to treat inflammation or obesity. From her research, Femke has realized new insights into cellular responses triggered by aristolochic acid that may lead to renal injury and renal carcinoma.
Femke carried out her work eagerly and the quality of her final report has demonstrated her great aptitude for data analysis, scientific writing, and presentation. During her BSc studies, Femke served as a student information officer, and received the 2018 Young Talent Award from the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW).
In conclusion, the jury is confident that the Karlijn Keijzer Scriptieprijs has been awarded to excellent and highly motivated students. For the first time in more than two years, an in-person award ceremony can take place where the prize will be presented to Femke and Matthew by Jacqueline and Freek Keijzer, the parents of Karlijn Keijzer.
About the Karlijn Keijzer Scriptieprijs
The Karlijn Keijzer Scriptieprijs is established in memory of Karlijn Keijzer, who was aboard the fatal MH17 flight in 2014. Karlijn finished her MSc studies in Drug Discovery and Safety (DDS) at the Vrije Universiteit cum laude in 2012, with a specialization in Computational Medicinal Chemistry and Toxicology. For her PhD studies, Karlijn joined the Computational Chemistry group of professor Baik at Indiana University in Bloomington to study amongst other organometallic complexes of therapeutic interest. In September 2014 she was posthumously awarded her doctoral degree. During her PhD studies Karlijn regularly visited the VU. Early 2014 she obtained an Aspasia research grant to stay with the Biocomputational Chemistry group in the Division of Theoretical Chemistry.
In line with Karlijn’s intellectual legacy and interests, and to stimulate talented and ambitious students in their scientific development and (international) experience, the Karlijn Keijzer Scriptieprijs is presented annually as a travel grant of 1000 Euros. The award recipient is selected by a jury based on the academic excellence and motivation of candidates who have successfully completed a BSc research project in the field of pharmaceutical sciences or (bio)chemistry. Resources for the award have been made available by the family from a donation fund for Karlijn, supplemented by the VU Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a private donation.