prof. Matthias D'hooghe (PhD)

CRIG member
Matthias D'hooghe

Principal investigator
SynBioC Research Group
Associate professor (Department of Sustainable Organic Chemistry and Technology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, UGent)

Research focus

Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, compounds that inhibit the enzymatic removal of acetyl groups at specific lysine residues, have emerged as promising new therapeutic agents. For example, significant advances have been made regarding the use of HDAC inhibitors in the fields of oncology, immunology, neurology, virology and infectious diseases. HDAC inhibitors can act on 11 HDAC isozymes, but recent studies have revealed the importance of isoform-selective inhibition with respect to clinical efficacy. In particular, the HDAC6 isoform has been identified as a relevant target because of its unique property to control alfa-tubulin acetylation. Moreover, HDAC6 is implicated in cancer-related processes such as cell motility and cell migration, angiogenesis and cell stress response.

Our research embarks on the current high interest in HDAC6 as a therapeutic target, aiming at the design, development and anti-cancer assessment of new HDAC6 inhibitors. This includes activities related to the rational design, synthesis and biological evaluation of new chemical entities as selective HDAC6 inhibitors on the one hand, and activities related to the assessment of the functional inhibition on tumor cell activities by the new HDAC6 inhibitors on the other hand. We apply an integrated and multidisciplinary approach in the pursuit of the ultimate objective of this research: to provide a scientific platform for the identification and elaboration of new HDAC6-selective inhibitors as novel clinical candidates for anticancer therapies. The chemical synthesis part is performed in the SynBioC lab, whereas the functional inhibition on tumor cell activities is studied at the Lab for Experimental Cancer Research (prof. O. De Wever and prof. M. Bracke, UZGent).


Matthias D’hooghe was born in Kortrijk, Belgium, in 1978. He received a Master degree in 2001 (Master of Science in Bioscience Engineering: Chemistry) and a PhD degree in 2006 (Doctor in Applied Biological Sciences: Chemistry), both from Ghent University, Belgium, with Prof. N. De Kimpe as promoter. In 2007, he became post-doctoral assistant at the Department of Sustainable Organic Chemistry and Technology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, and in 2009 he performed a short postdoctoral stay with Prof. D. Vogt at Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) in the field of homogeneous catalysis. In October 2010, he was promoted to Professor (Research Professor) at the Department of Sustainable Organic Chemistry and Technology (Ghent University), and he was granted tenure in 2015. His main research interests include the chemistry of small-ring azaheterocycles, with a special focus on aziridines, azetidines and b-lactams, and the synthesis of different classes of bioactive heterocyclic compounds. Prof. D’hooghe has been elected as a laureate of the DSM Science & Technology Awards 2007, finalist of the European Young Chemist Award 2012 and recipient of the Thieme Chemistry Journal Award 2013. He is the author of 120 publications in international peer-reviewed journals.

Research team

  • prof. Matthias D'hooghe - principal investigator, associate professor

Key publications

  • Potent and selective HDAC6 inhibitory activity of N-(4-hydroxycarbamoylbenzyl)-1,2,4,9-tetrahydro-3-thia-9-azafluorenes as novel sulfur analogues of Tubastatin A'. Chemical Communications, 2013. (PMID: 23538448)
  • 'Synthesis of benzothiophene-based hydroxamic acids as potent and selective HDAC6 inhibitors'. Chemical Communications, 2015. (PMID: 25994553)
  • 'Synthesis and SAR assessment of novel Tubathian analogs in the pursuit of potent and selective HDAC6 inhibitors'. Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, 2016. (PMID: 26822143)

Contact & links

  • Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, SynBioC Research, Group (BW11), Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent
  • SynBioC Research Group