The EFMC’s communication team has been established to help promoting Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology in Europe and around the globe, with the aim to create a shared network, and inspire young future scientists.
Meet the team:
Paula Morales is a postdoctoral fellow at the Instituto de Química Física Rocasolano at the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) in Madrid. In 2015 she obtained her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry from the Instituto de Química Médica-CSIC. Her thesis project was centered on the design, synthesis and evaluation of novel cannabinoid ligands. During a two year postdoctoral stay at the University of North Carolina she focused on the computational study of orphan GPCRs. She has co-authored 3 patents and over 25 peer-reviewed scholarly articles (https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6209-8600). Her passion towards Medicinal Chemistry comes from its intrinsic multidisciplinary nature. The possibility of identifying novel drugs to help fighting diseases fascinates her. She joined the EFMC communication team to help sharing, discussing and enjoying medicinal chemistry in a friendly atmosphere.
Mary Wheldon works as a medicinal chemist within the Drug Discovery Unit at the University of Dundee, UK. This is involves work on very early drug discovery projects, synthesising compounds, investigating targets and proof of concept work. I previously worked at University College London, within the Translational Research Office Drug Discovery Group, doing a 2-year structured postdoctoral training program. I had the opportunity to work with large and small pharmaceutical companies and in academia. Before this, I studied for my PhD at the University of York with Prof Peter O'Brien on the design and synthesis of 3-D fragments. The thing I enjoy the most about my job is having an impact (even if small) on the health and well-being of the World’s population.
My name is Raisa Haavikko and I live in Vantaa, Finland. I got my PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the end of 2015 from University of Helsinki. In my PhD I synthesized derivatives of betulin, which can be extracted from the outer layer of birch bark. The derivatives were tested against prostate cancer, leishmaniasis, inflammation factors and cannabinoid receptors. My PhD studies included a six months research visit to Monash University in Melbourne. I did a postdoc at University of Helsinki in a hit-to-lead drug discovery project under ENABLE consortium. The aim of the project is to develop new antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria. Currently I am in between jobs, and my dream would be to work as a member of a medical team in a Pharma company. I find science communication very important, and in EFMC’s communication team I can do my part to advance the field.
Matt Tozer is an independent medicinal chemistry consultant, who works with clients across the research & development and service sectors. Notable recent collaborations have included: the University of Sheffield on a substantial small-molecule oncology programme; Cyclofluidic on its AI-driven, integrated discovery services; and Ubiquigent on its DUB-inhibitor platform. Matt has a wealth of experience of leadership and management in the biotech and contract research sectors. As Director of Peakdale Chemistry Services, he was Head of Site for Peakdale’s pioneering embedded unit at Pfzir, UK. In parallel, he was Peakdale’s Director of Medicinal Chemistry Services. He was Director of Medicinal Chemistry UK for the Anglo-Swedish biotech Medivir and is proud to have earned his spurs as a medicinal chemist under the aegis of Sir James Black at the James Black Foundation. Matt is an active and dedicated contributor to the Royal Society of Chemistry, notably through the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector and the Organic Division. He is a member of the Executive Committee for the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry. He is too old to know much about social media, but cuts, pastes and presses buttons with youthful enthusiasm.
Kristina Goncharenko works in the business development team at SpiroChem, fine chemicals company based in Basel, Switzerland. Her main goal is to support medicinal chemists around the globe in designing drugs of tomorrow. She completed her PhD at the University of Basel in a diverse field: by combining biochemistry, biology and chemistry her project was focused on understanding the mechanism of a novel enzyme called sulfoxide synthase. Kristina is an active member of the Swiss Chemical Society and helps to strengthen the communication between pharmaceutical industry and young chemists. She believes that having a close network of medicinal chemists and chemical biologists will support innovation in science.
Piia Kokkonen is a post doctoral researcher currently working at Loschmidt Laboratories. She got her PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry in 2015 from the University of Eastern Finland where she studied sirtuin inhibitors. The increased activity of sirtuins is associated with many health benefits and longer lifespan, but in her project she was only able to find compounds to inhibit their function. She has no intention to make people sick and live shorter lives, though, as also sirtuin inhibitors could be useful in the treatment of some health problems, such as diabetes or cancer. When moving to Czech Republic Piia moved slightly away from her comfort zone of drug design and started designing enzymes, as obviously it is not challenging enough to design small molecules. She is now working with haloalkane dehalogenases which can detoxify industrial waste waters and warfare chemicals. Soon she will start her Marie SkBodowska-Curie fellowship which focuses on the computational study of substrate inhibition and how one could engineer enzymes to avoid this problem. Piia joined the Communication Team to promote the slightly bizarre field of medicinal chemistry to everyone and because she enjoyed taking care of the social media communication during a conference she took part in organizing.
Tamara Šmidlehner obtained her PhD in Medicinal chemistry in 2018 at the Ruder Boskovic Institute, Zagreb, Croatia. Her interdisciplinary PhD research included synthesis of novel cyanine-based molecular sensors for recognition of differently structured double stranded-DNA/RNA and proteins. The recognition is based on highly selective fluorescence response triggered upon formation of supramolecular complexes with biomacromolecules. These noncytotoxic molecular sensors showed as highly specific fluorescent mitochondria stains, but also as novel probes for monitoring β-amyloid fibrillation process in fluorescence assays. Thanks to the different scholarships she visited several foreign laboratories (Warwick University, UK; University Grenoble-Alpes, France, University of Parma, Italy) where she has done part of her PhD research and obtained valuable experience in different spectroscopic techniques.
Fabrizio Giordanetto leads medicinal chemistry and drug discovery projects at D E Shaw Research. A trained medicinal chemist from the University of Genoa (M.Sc.) and University of London (Ph.D.), Fabrizio has over 15 years of experience in drug discovery and has delivered several clinical candidates in multiple therapeutic areas, resulting in more than 100 publications and international patents. Prior to joining DESRES, he directed the medicinal chemistry activities at Taros Chemicals. Fabrizio has also served as drug discovery Project Leader and Principal Scientist in medicinal chemistry at AstraZeneca after starting his industrial career at Pharmacia (Pfizer Inc.). Fabrizio has chaired the “Visibility and recognition” working group of the EFMC, dedicating himself in raising the visibility and awareness of Medicinal Chemistry and the EFMC to the broader community and the general public. He is looking forward to continue this mission within the EFMC communication team.
Brieuc Matagne studied communication, marketing and political sciences at the University of Louvain, Belgium. Interested by the event planning world for a long time, he joined LD Organisation in 2014 as Conference Manager. In mid-2015, he started managing the Administrative Secretariat of the EFMC as part of his mission at LD Organisation. Since then, he is working behind the scene in helping running the daily business of the EFMC together with the Executive Committee Members. Lone non-scientist in this team of talented ones, he is using his expertise in communication and planning to assist the team in their mission to increase the EFMC visibility and brand awareness.
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