Monthly Newsletter March 2021


The official EFMC Yearbook 2021, "Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology in Europe" is a valuable resource for those interested in quickly finding information on all things EFMC, such as the activities and composition of Member Societies, Corporate Members, and the activities and events of EFMC and its working groups.

In a continuous effort to reduce its ecological imprint, EFMC have decided to produce the Yearbook as an electronic version only. For an optimal read through of the Yearbook, we recommend using Microsoft Edge or Firefox.



The XXVI EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC-ISMC 2021), scheduled to be held virtually from August 29 to September 2, 2021, will cover advances in drug discovery in major therapeutic areas, including bacterial and viral infections, diseases of the brain, heart, and respiratory system, fibrotic diseases, and cancer.

EFMC-ISMC 2021 will also feature most recent advances in new technologies such as artificial intelligence in drug discovery and chemical synthesis, the role of carbohydrates in disease pathology and carbohydrate-based drug discovery, the exploitation of RNA as a drug target, small molecule-induced stem cell differentiation, or the impact of cryo-EM on drug discovery and design.

35 slots will be available for oral communications to be selected out of the submitted abstracts. The deadline to submit abstract for oral communications is March 25th 2021.

Participants will be able to join the event via a digital platform, with content accessible during and after the symposium:

  • Online Sessions – Live broadcast of the full scientific programme, with Q&A for interaction with the speakers.
  • Replay – all sessions will be available on replay to all registered participants.
  • Virtual Poster Hall – for all participants to present and discuss their latest scientific results.
  • Virtual Exhibition – to give industry partners the opportunity to showcase products and novelties.

More information and registration on

Share the news on social media with the #EFMC_ISMC.


The “literature spotlight” section of the newsletter will bring you a summary of the recently published research in a concise and readable way. Papers covering a range of medicinal chemistry and chemical biology from a variety of journals will be explored by the Communication Team; today’s excerpt is brought to you by Dr Caroline Lanthier (University of Caen, France).

This eleventh contribution will focus on the recently published article on the “Second-generation tricyclic pyrimido-pyrrolo-oxazine mTOR inhibitor with predicted blood–brain barrier permeability" (by Chiara Borsari et al. in RSC Medicinal Chemistry).

The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a protein kinase with a key role in cell growth and proliferation. However, its dysregulation has been linked to cancer as well as numerous neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Hungtington’s disease. Currently, the mTOR inhibitors on the market and in clinical trials have limited blood brain barrier (BBB) permeation. Identification of compounds with optimized brain permeability is therefore an ongoing challenge for the treatment of Central Nervous System disorders (CNS). The authors previously discovered an ATP-competitive mTOR kinase inhibitor that was 212-fold more selective for mTOR over the structurally related phosphoinositide 3-kinase alpha (PI3Kα). However, this compound displayed a limited BBB permeability. Second generation of pyrimido-pyrrolo-oxazines were thus designed aiming to improve the BBB permeation and hence, tackle neurodegenerative diseases.

The authors synthesized a small library of 11 final compounds that were tested for in vitro binding to mTOR and PI3Kα as well as for PI3K/mTOR signalling in A2058 melanoma cells.
Three compounds have been pinpointed from these assays: the CF3-meta-substitued pyridine, the thiazole and the 1,3,4 thiadiazole derivatives exhibited a great mTOR potency complemented with selectivity over PI3Kα. The observed SAR was later confirmed by computational modeling studies. In particular, the CF3 derivative was well accommodated in mTOR while it induced steric clashes with Lys802 and Asp933 in PI3Kα. The potential BBB permeation of these three compounds was assessed in a MDCK-MDR1 permeability in vitro assay. The apparent permeability (Papp) and the efflux ratio (ER = Papp,basolateral-apical/Papp,apical-basolateral) across cell monolayers was measured. The CF3-meta-substituted pyridine derivative showed satisfactory data comparable to known brain penetrant PI3K or mTOR inhibitors. It is currently the first second generation tricyclic pyrimido-pyrrolo-oxazine described in the literature, that could have potential application in the treatment of CNS disorders.

Chiara Borsari, Erhan Keles, Andrea Treyer, Martina De Pascale, Paul Hebeisen, Matthias Hamburger and Matthias P. Wymann!divAbstract


The 8th edition of the EFMC Young Medicinal Chemists' Symposium will be held virtually on September 9-10, 2021 and will be organised by the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology (EFMC) and the EFMC Young Scientists Network (YSN).

The committee took the decision to run a fully virtual event; digital platform will be prepared for access during and after the symposium.

The Programme of the 8th EFMC Young Medicinal Chemists’ Symposium will include:


  • keynote lectures given by inspiring leaders in the field, with time allocated for interaction with the speakers.
  • oral communications by invited prize winners from national young medicinal chemist meetings in Europe.
  • flash poster presentations selected from submitted abstracts.
  • a virtual poster session open to any young researcher submitting an abstract
  • a virtual exhibition
  • prizes
    • EFMC-YMCS Presentation Prize
    • EFMC-YMCS Poster Prizes
    • EFMC-YMCS Public's Choice Prize

The scientific programme will includea series of soft-skills training opportunities and networking breaks, organised by the EFMC Young Scientists Network.

More information and registration on

Share the news on social media with the #EFMC_YMCS.


The EFMC is funding grants for EFMC organised events with the aim to support the participation of young academic scientists. Upon application, the EFMC will cover full registration fees for up to 20 applicants.

To apply for an EFMC grant, please fill in the application form and upload your CV, publication list, abstract, motivation letter, and supervisor support letter.

Deadline for EFMC-ISMC Symposium: March 25, 2021.
Participation of both "EFMC-ISMC" & "EFMC-YMCS" is mandatory in order to receive the grant.

More information and application on


In this edition, our #Iamamedicinalchemist is György Ferenczy (Research Centre for Natural Sciences in Budapest, Hungary). Professor Ferenczy was one of the recipients of the 2014 Prous Institute - Overton and Meyer Award for New Technologies in Drug Discovery.


How did you get interested in Medicinal Chemistry?

My academic supervisors, Gábor Náray-Szabó in Budapest and Graham Richards in Oxford, were among the pioneers of the application of computational tools in drug design. Although this field was much narrower in the late 80s when I started my career, it was exciting and exotic enough to be appealing for someone, who has more affinity toward theoretical work than skill to do practical chemistry.

Where and when did you obtain your PhD diploma?

I obtained my PhD from the Eötvös University in Budapest, in 1989. I worked on approximate computational schemes for evaluating molecular electrostatic interactions. The project included the development of methods for electrostatic potential calculations by semiempiricial quantum chemistry.

Where did you have your postdoc position?

I was a postdoc with Graham Richards at Oxford University, UK and with Jean-Louis Rivail at the University of Nancy, France.

Where are you currently working and what is your current position?

I work in the Medicinal Chemistry Research group at the Research Centre for Natural Sciences in Budapest. I also have a position at the Institute of Biophysics and Radiation Biology of the Semmelweis University in Budapest.

What are your current research interests?

I admire the power of molecular dynamics-based methods to describe a wide range of phenomena. I am involved in the computation of the free energy profile of biochemical reactions, and the binding of covalent and non-covalent inhibitors. I am also interested in the MD based interpretation of single molecule experiments performed by Atomic Force Microscope and laser tweezers.

How would you explain what your research area is to non-scientists?

My research is directed toward the exploration of the atomic details of various phenomena including biochemical processes and drug actions.

What do you like best about your work?

I enjoy very much when computational results contribute to the understanding of experimental observations. In my field, explorations of atomic motions in reaction mechanisms and in single molecular experiments are good examples.

It is particularly gratifying when a computation-based prediction is validated by experiments. I had such experience with structure-based virtual screening and molecular dynamics-based affinity predictions.

What kind of tasks does your work involve?

I do computations to support early phase drug discovery efforts. From time to time I participate in method development that includes the derivation of mathematical formulas and their coding.

What kind of skills does your work require?

As a part of a team working in the complex field of drug discovery, it is essential to have an overview of the whole process and to be able to effectively communicate with people working in not very closely related fields.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your scientific career?

On one hand, I was very much satisfied when I was able to publish a work alone, meaning that I could accomplish the task of designing and realizing an idea. On the other hand, I enjoyed very much when, as a member of a diverse team, I could contribute to achieving milestones in drug discovery projects.

Which of your papers are you most proud of and why?

I like my early paper on a method deriving atomic charges that efficiently describes the electrostatic interactions of molecules. These charges are theoretically well-founded alternatives to electrostatic potential derives charges.

I believe that our series of papers on the thermodynamic background of hit and lead optimization contributed to the efficiency of drug discovery.


The BMCS is happy to announce the awardee of the Hall of Fame, as well as several upcoming events.

BMCS Hall of Fame and Medal 2020 – Announcement of Awardee

The BMCS is delighted to announce that David Rees PhD, FRSC, FMedSci, Chief Scientific Officer at Astex Pharmaceuticals, will be the 2020 inductee to its Hall of Fame, and the recipient of the associated medal. David is recognised internationally for his innovative use of chemistry in drug discovery. His research has forged bridges between academia and industry, and he has held prominent positions in learned societies such as the Royal Society of Chemistry. He has led collaborations resulting in the discovery of three launched drugs, the anaesthetic agent Sugammadex which has been used in over 30 million patients in 60 countries, and the anti-cancer agents Ribociclib and Erdafitinib, both predicted to achieve blockbuster status. David is well known for his calm authority, scientific rigor and enthusiasm, and has over 140 publications and patents.

The purpose of this award is to recognize prominent chemists for outstanding, sustained, and significant scientific impact in chemistry-centric disciplines including, but not limited to,medicinal chemistry, agriscience, bioorganic chemistry, chemical biology.

Virtual - Kinase 2021:  9th RSC / SCI symposium on kinase inhibitor design
April 11-15, 2021 (two afternoon sessions)

Registration now open

Synopsis:  With more than 25 FDA-approved small molecules, the field of kinase inhibition continues to attract significant investment from the drug discovery and development community. The event will encompass case studies of both ongoing endeavours as well as successful case histories.



Virtual – 2nd Nucleosides and Nucleotides:  synthetic and biological chemistry
April 20, 2021

Registration now open

Synopsis:  This meeting seeks to explore and celebrate the chemistry that drives the development of modern nucleoside and nucleotide chemistry. It will bring together scientists who work at the interfaces of synthetic and biological chemistry to deliver new tools and insights for biology, and new leads for drug development.



Virtual - 32nd symposium on Medicinal Chemistry in Eastern England   Registration is open!
April 29, 2021

Registration now open

Synopsis:  This is a highly successful, long-standing, one-day annual meeting.  The meeting aims to be informal and interactive, and offers excellent scientific development and networking opportunities for all those working in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery.



21st RSC / SCI Medicinal Chemistry Symposium
September 12-15, 2021 - Churchill College, Cambridge, UK

The call for poster abstracts will close on April 30

Synopsis:  Europe’s premier biennial Medicinal Chemistry event, focusing on first disclosures and new strategies in medicinal chemistry



The first issue of 2021 Chemistry in Europe (CiE) Newsletter is available online.

The CiE-1 amongst other features:

  • Editorial by Floris Rutjes, EuChemS President
  • Interview with Pilar Goya, EuChemS Vice-President, on the occassion of being awarded the HonFRSC designation
  • Science-policy contribution by Nineta Hrastelj, EuChemS Secretary General.

The CiE-1 also introduces a new section 'Chemistry Talks', to which you are invited to contribute.




Symeres is the leading mid-sized European Contract Research Organization for your drug discovery and development needs. With over 500 scientists, we offer best-in-class solutions from early-stage hit finding to the delivery of your early clinical drug substance API, for small- to medium-sized molecules. We Make Molecules Matter.


March 30, 2021
7th EFMC-YSN MedChemBioOnline

August 29-September 2, 2021
EFMC-ISMC 2021 - XXVI EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry

September 9-10, 2021
EFMC-YMCS 2021 - 8th EFMC Young Medicinal Chemists’ Symposium


March 22-23, 2021
Synthesis in Drug Discovery and Development

April 14-15, 2021
Kinase 2021: 9th RSC / SCI Symposium on Kinase Inhibitor Design

April 20, 2021
2nd Nucleosides and Nucleotides: Synthetic and Biological Chemistry

April 26-29, 2021
13th Young Medicinal Chemist's Symposium - Nuove Prospettive in Chimica Farmaceutica

April 29, 2021
The 3rd SCI-RSC Symposium on Transporters in Drug Discovery and Development

April 29, 2021
32nd Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry in Eastern England

June 29-30, 2021
The BMCS Mastering MedChem VI: 6th RSC-BMCS Symposium on Mastering Medicinal Chemistry

July 7-9, 2021
56th International Conference on Medicinal Chemistry (RICT 2021)


Principal Chemist, Sitryx , Chemistry Department, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Cheminformatician (M/F) DISCNGINE, Ile de France Paris, France
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Drug Hunter @Aqemia, deeptech startup leveraging AI and quantum-inspired physics for drug discovery, AQEMIA, Paris, France
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