Best Practices in Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC Working Group)

Have you ever wondered how medicinal chemists work in other companies or in academia? Are there important trends or new technologies that you may have missed?

In the rapidly evolving field of Medicinal Chemistry, there are only few opportunities to share best practices among industry and academic practitioners. We can of course learn from case studies presented at conferences but wouldn’t it be great to also have material covering more general concepts? Following the initiative of Jean Quancard, the EFMC assembled a team of experienced practitioners from industry and academia. We are now addressing this exciting challenge.

We would like to target a broad audience with different levels of expertise in the field. First, PhD students would benefit from training aligned with industry expectations on what they should know after graduating. Then, new practitioners recently joining industry could use early training on drug discovery topics they might not have been exposed to during their academic curriculum. Finally, all of us as industry or academic practitioners could use readily available material to stay up to date in our field. While Medicinal Chemists and Chemical Biologists would be the main audience, we hope some of these could be useful for colleagues in other fields of drug discovery.

As medicinal chemistry is a rather large field, we decided to first focus on the early phase of drug discovery: generating high quality chemical starting points for optimization. This is a critical part of our drug discovery effort since the speed and success of a program highly depends on the quality of the starting points we find and select. Medicinal chemists have a key role to play in this early phase so the more we know about it, the more we can have an impact. We will cover this through four different topics; Which strategies and technologies should be used to find hits for a particular target? Which compound libraries should be screened and what molecular space should be covered? Once a set of validated hits is identified, how do we select the best ones to follow up for optimization? Finally, we will cover phenotypic hit discovery separately as this complex topic deserves special attention.

In addition to this, we will develop a set of best practices for validating chemical probes. High quality chemical probes are essential to explore of human biology and diseases. We hope we can contribute to increasing the quality of the published probes by spreading best practices through the EFMC community.

The material we will assemble will be spread through various formats: freely accessible webinars to download from the EFMC website, presentations at EFMC meetings, educational slide decks for distribution and teaching. These will be made freely accessible to industry as well as academic professors to use in their course material.


  • Jean Quancard, Novartis, Switzerland
  • Brian Cox, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
  • Dirk Finsinger, Merck, Germany
  • Hannes Koolman, Boehringer Ingelheim, Germany
  • Stefan Laufer, University of Tübingen, Germany
  • Josef Messinger, Orion Pharma, Finland
  • Gianluca Sbardella, University of Salerno, Italy
  • Stéphanie Guéret, AstraZeneca-Max Planck Institute Satellite Unit, Germany

We also need your help!

Please contact us if you have interesting case studies relevant to the topics we are covering. These would help illustrate these concepts with additional recent examples and spread best practices through the Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology communities