Dmitry Mazunin, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Switzerland

Today, our #Iamamedicinalchemist is Dmitry Mazunin from F. Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland.

Discover his full-story below!

Where and when did you obtain your PhD diploma?

I did my PhD with Prof. Jeffrey W. Bode at ETH Zurich from 2011-2016

What was the topic of your PhD project?

Initially I worked on bullvaene, a shape-shifting molecule. However, my doctoral thesis deals with recently discovered KAT ligation and its use as a bioorthogonal reaction.  We have used KAT ligation for hydrogel formation and functionalization.

Where did you have your postdoc position?

For my postdoc I moved to LMB in Cambridge, UK supported by SNF fellowship. I spent 18 months in the group of Prof. Jason W. Chin working in the area  of chemical biology.

Where do you work at the moment and what is your current position?

Currently I am working as a medicinal chemist at F. Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel

What are your current research interests?

Our medicinal chemistry department  is supporting preclinical reseach in terapeutic  areas such neuroscience, oncology, inflammation, immunology and infectious desease. Currently I am a part of oncology section and  involved in design and synthesis of our target copounds ranging from lead identification to lead optimisation.

What do you consider your biggest achievement in your scientific carrier?

Personally I would consider a big (biggest) achievment in my carrier if I could contribute to a development of a drug, which will help patients. Until today it has been an educational and adventurous  scientific journey from my chemistry studies over PhD and Postdoc to my current position.

How many PhD and postdoc students do you have at the moment? Are you currently looking for a new PhD and postdoc students?

At the moment medchem department  does’t host any PhDs or Postdocs. Recently we had a 3-months stay of a PhD student from Germany.  However, MedChem department at Roche in Basel has been organizing a one-year intership program (RICH) for students for many years.

How would you describe yourself as a supervisor?

I try to be collegial and teach my students to work independently without a fear to fail. Till today I have been fortuate to supervise six students and all of them started or are planning to start their PhD. At least I haven’t scared anyone.

What is the most embarrassing thing you did in the lab while doing experiments?

As all students I had few small run-aways and one a bit bigger while trying to scape up a synthesis. Fortunately I have never had an explosion, but was present in the lab when two happened and it is not fun at all. One of them happened for water splitting where you generate oxygen and hydrogen. It was done on larger scale and two gases were collected in two barrels with safety detectors. However, the setup was drawn by a chemist, but the apparatus was build by electricians . And here a funny part starts: for chemist a kathode is a plus, and anode is a minus; for a electrician visa versa.  Electriacians connected the setup not in the right way. The gases were collected in wrong barrels and the safety detectors didn’t help when one of them was leaking. After certain time when the ratio was 2:1 it exploded.

Which field of medicinal chemistry do you consider the most promising in the future?

Oncology would remain unfortunately one of the biggest challenges for biology but also for drug discovery.