Utrecht University and the Netherlands Foundation for Chemical Research (SON) founded the Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research as a joint research institute on March 25, 1988. The objective of this collaboration was to create a center for research and expertise in structural biology with an internationally recognized academic staff and an advanced instrumental and computational infrastructure. The identification of a steadily increasing number of genome sequences has generated a need for functional studies to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of life. The research groups of the Bijvoet Center are well equipped to enter this new era of structural and functional genomics.
Nowadays, the Netherlands Foundation for Chemical Research is part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), which promotes scientific research at Dutch universities, in part by supporting national research institutes and facilities. The Bijvoet Center was founded with support from NWO and continues to receive support from in the form of infrastructure investments, from both NWO and the European Union. Several well-known national facilities are housed in the Bijvoet Center.
Since 1992, the PhD educational programme of the Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research has been accredited by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The Bijvoet Center has a firm base in the Departments of Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biology of the Faculty of Science of Utrecht University as well as in the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU). Its staff participates in multiple educational programs (MSc and PhD) of the Utrecht Graduate School of Life Sciences (GSLS) and in several BSc programmes, including Chemistry, Pharmacy, Biology and Biomedical Sciences. The Bijvoet Center provides educational programs for young researchers to prepare them to meet the challenges of future life science research.
The current scientific director of the institute is prof. dr. Piet Gros, who received the NWO Spinoza Prize in 2010 for the elucidation of the threedimensional structure of the C3 protein, which plays a central role in the complement system and contributes to innate immunity. The institute is internationally well-recognized, and operates as the Dutch node of the ESFRI project Instruct, which tries to make structural biology techniques available to the broader scientific community. Over the past years, the Bijvoet Center has been very successful in attracting funding from NWO and the European Union.
For over 20 years, the NMR spectrocopy group has played an important role in the coordination of biomolecular NMR efforts at the European level, by serving as an NMR facility for European scientists. Since 2005, the Biomolecular Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics group has hosted the Netherlands Proteomics Centre, and in 2012 the institute received funding to continue their efforts in proteomics as part of the Dutch National Roadmap for Research Infrastructures. Among the extensive NMR facilities available at the institute is also a unique solid state DNP-NMR spectrometer and in 2012 the institute acquired funding to obtain one of the world’s first 1.2 GHz NMR spectrometers. In 2012, the Bijvoet Center was the first institute in the Life Sciences in Europe to receive the prestigious Innovative Doctoral Programme grant from the Marie Curie Initial Training Network programme of the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union and in 2014, the center was among the founding members of the Institute for Chemical Immunology, funded with an NWO Gravitation grant.