Professor Wilfred van der Donk was born in the Netherlands and received his B.S. and M.S. from Leiden University, working in the laboratory of Jan Reedijk. He moved to the USA in 1989 to pursue his Ph.D. in organic chemistry under Kevin Burgess at Rice University. After postdoctoral work at MIT with JoAnne Stubbe, he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1997, where he currently holds the Richard E. Heckert Chair in Chemistry. He has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2008.
Research in his laboratory uses organic chemistry, enzymology and molecular biology to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms of enzyme catalysis. His group also explores the utility of enzymes for synthetic purposes. Professor van der Donk’s particular interests have been enzymatic reactions in the biosynthesis of peptide and phosphonate antibiotics, and engineering of cyclic peptide libraries.
The work in his laboratory has been recognized by a number of awards including an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (2001), Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2002), ACS Pfizer Award (2004), ACS Cope Scholar Award (2006), the Jeremy Knowles Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2010), the Emil Thomas Kaiser Award of the Protein Society (2013), the Repligen award (2017), and the Vincent du Vigneaud Award of the American Peptide Society (2017). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.