Dr C.R. Berkers (33) is a research group leader at Utrecht University’s Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research. She received the Heineken Young Scientists Award for Biochemistry and Biophysics 2014 for her research into the workings of the proteasome, a structure that breaks down proteins in biological cells.
Chemist Celia Berkers did research at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam before obtaining her PhD in 2010 at Leiden University.
Since 2013, Berkers has headed a group at the Bijvoet Center for Biomolecular Research that studies interactions between medicines and the ‘metabolome’, i.e. all the small molecules in the cell and their interactions.
Her work may help us develop new drugs against various diseases. Berkers received a Rubicon Fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in 2011. In 2013, that same organisation awarded her a Veni Grant.
‘Even as a child I wanted to find “a cure for cancer”, and that desire has stayed with me. I want to understand what goes wrong in sick cells at the molecular level, and why some medicines work while others don’t.’