Monthly Newsletter May 2021


The EFMC is happy to announce the names of the 2021 "EFMC Prize for a Young Medicinal Chemist or Chemical Biologist in Industry" and the "EFMC Prize for a Young Medicinal Chemist or Chemical Biologis in Academia".

  • 2021 EFMC Prize for Young Medicinal Chemist or Chemical Biologist in Academia

The selection committee designated Prof. Nir London (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel) as the winner of the 2021 EFMC Prize for a Young Medicinal Chemist or Chemical Biologist in Academia.

Prof. Finn Hansen (University of Bonn, Germany) and Prof. Markus Muttenthaler (University of Vienna, Austria) have been recognised as the most meritorious runners-up.

  • 2021 EFMC Prize for Young Medicinal Chemist or Chemical Biologist in Industry

The selection committee designated Dr Niall Anderson (GlaxoSmithKline, United Kingdom) as the winner of the 2021 EFMC Prize for a Young Medicinal Chemist or Chemical Biologist in Industry.

Dr Stephanie Gueret (AstraZeneca, Sweden) and Dr Christian Kramer (F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Switzerland) have been recognised as the most meritorious runners-up.

The two prizes are given annually and consist of a diploma, € 1.000 and an invitation for a short presentation at an EFMC symposium. The 2021 prize-winners will be invited to give oral communications at the XXVI EFMC "International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry" (EFMC-ISMC 2021).

More information about EFMC Prizes.


The past five years or so has witnessed a revolution in in silico methods and what these can offer in pharmaceutical and life sciences research. Massive advances in available computational power enable us to look at previously difficult to simulate properties such as realistic solvation and macromolecular dynamics. Modern computational chemistry gives us unprecedented insights into the factors, governing molecular potency, selectivity, solubility and other structure-property relationships, allowing for precision design of new molecular entities.

Join us for this EFMC certified event, where scientists from the molecular design industry will share a birds-eye view of how modern computational approaches are being used to solve challenging compound design problems and leverage collective ideation. The focus will be on how modelling has helped change the decision-making process and has become more interpretable, accurate, and impactful.


  • Introduction 
    Thomas Steinbrecher, Schrödinger

  • Making Chemistry Decisions in 2025: Can the Schrödinger Platform Help? 
    Jas Bhachoo and Thomas Steinbrecher, Schrödinger (Abstract

  • How 3D Modelling Advances a Project 
    Jas Bhachoo, Schrödinger (Abstract

  • The Integration and Leveraging of Computational Modelling into Chemistry Projects at a Small Drug Discovery Company: Lessons Learnt
    Chido Mpamhanga, LifeArc (Abstract

  • Bringing the 21st Century Molecular Modeler Toolbox to Chemists
    Miriam López-Ramos, Galapagos (Abstract

  • Virtual Screening at the Retinoic Acid-related Orphan Receptor γ 
    Martin Smiesko, University of Basel (Abstract

  • Q&A Session + Discussion

  • Ligand Designer Demo
    Antonija Kuzmanic, Schrödinger

  • Hands-on Session using LiveDesign

To register for the webinar, please click here

For any additional questions or information, please email


The “literature spotlight” section of the newsletter will bring you a summary of the recently published research in a concise and readable way. Multiple thematics from different journals will be highlighted thanks to the valuable contribution of Dr Michele Mari (University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy) from the Young Scientist's Network.

This contribution will focus on the recently published review article on Synthesis and in Vitro Evaluation of Novel 5''.chr('8208').''Nitroindole Derivatives as c''.chr('8208').''Myc G''.chr('8208').''Quadruplex Binders with Anticancer Activity.

DNA G''.chr('8208').''quadruplexes are highly present in human genome and play an important role in the regulation of human genes. The formation of these noncanonical DNA structures appear to be highly associated to cancer development; they are found in the promoter regions of oncogenes including
''.chr('8208').''Mycc''.chr('8208').''KITBCL''.chr('8208').''2, and in telomeres. The downregulation of these oncogenes can be achieved by stabilization of G-quadruplexes and this makes these structures  modern and interesting targets in cancer drug discovery. In this highlight we will consider the below interesting example where classical scaffolds have been modified and developed to target such oncogenes and successfully modified to identify a lead compound.

Schwalbe et al. recently described a classical medicinal chemistry approach to target the c''.chr('8208').''Myc G''.chr('8208').''Quadruplex. c''.chr('8208'). ''Myc is overexpressed in a high percentage of solid tumors (gastrointestinal, ovarian, breast tumor, etc.), and biophysical studies confirmed that the stabilization of the G-quadruplex in c''.chr('8208').''Myc leads to the downregulation of the transcription, consequently, cancer cell growth is inhibited due to inhibition of c''.chr('8208').''Myc protein''.chr('8208').''dependent proliferation. Several different ligands have been identified to target G4 DNAs; in this paper, pyrrolidine''.chr('8208').''substituted5''.chr('8208'). ''nitroindole compounds have been studied as a new class of G4 ligands that bind to the c''.chr('8208').''Myc promoter G4 sequence. Starting from a very simple compound, 1''.chr('8208').''methyl''.chr('8208').''1H''.chr('8208').''indol''.chr('8208'). ''5''.chr('8208').''amine, and a library of other 129 compounds, selected via high throughput screening. For a deeper evaluation, and to gain deeper insight of the structure-activity relationship, 52 further compounds were synthesized with a versatile synthetic strategy. This included indoles, 5''.chr('8208').''nitroindole, 5''.chr('8208').''aminoindole, 7''.chr('8208').''azaindole, and indazole derivatives. These compounds where also screened in a fluorescence intercalator displacement (FID) assay. with The most interesting compounds were profiled further, leading to the identification of new binders to target the c''.chr('8208').''Myc promoter G''.chr('8208').''quadruplex. The  5''.chr('8208').''nitro-indole core was revealed to be an interesting lead structure and was optimized to generate the best compounds, with the finding that an amino or a nitro''.chr('8208').''group at the fifth position of the central indole core was critical for binding and that the protection of the N''.chr('8208').''indole at the first position played a significant role binding the G-quadruplex. This publication represents an intriguing example of classical medicinal chemistry of well-known molecules applied to a novel target in the fight against cancer.

Synthesis and in Vitro Evaluation of Novel 5''.chr('8208').''Nitroindole Derivatives as c''.chr('8208').''Myc G''.chr('8208').''Quadruplex Binders with Anticancer Activity
Vijaykumar D. Nimbarte, Dr. Julia Wirmer''.chr('8208').''Bartoschek, Dr. Santosh L. Gande, Islam Alshamleh, Marcel Seibert, Dr. Hamid Reza Nasiri, Dr. Frank Schnütgen, Prof.''.chr('8197').''Dr. Hubert Serve, Prof.''.chr('8197').''Dr. Harald Schwalbe

ChemMedChem Full Paper Early View


Interested in learning more about "Epigenetics: On the Road Towards a Polypharmacological Approach"? Be sure not to miss the 7th EFMC-YSN MedChemBioOnline webinar on May 25 (17:00 – 19:15 CEST).

Discover the programme!

  • 17:00 | Opening

  • 17:05 | Development of Epigenetic Dual-targeting Inhibitors as a New Strategy for Fighting Cancer
    Prof. Sergio Valente (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy)

  • 17:50 | Enabling Epigenetic Drug Discovery Through Quality Proteins and Assay Services
    Dr Ekaterina Kuznetsova (Reaction Biology, US)

  • 18:00 | Publishing Ethics: Best Practices in Writing Manuscripts
    David Peralta (Editor-in-Chief, ChemMedChem, A Chemistry Europe Journal)

  • 18:45 | Round Table Discussion: "Epigenetics the Road Ahead: Are Polypharmacology and Epitranscriptomics our Bright Future?“
    Prof. Paul Brennan (University of Oxford, United Kingdom) 
    Prof. Sergio Valente (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy)
    Dr Haiching Ma (Reaction Bilogy, United States) 
    Panelist to be announced

  • 19:15 | End of the event

More information & registration on

The event is free and open to all thanks to the generous support of Reaction Biology.


In this edition, our #Iamamedicinalchemist is Prof. Matthias Gehringer for the University of Tubingen, Germany. Get to know him better by reading our interview below

Prof. Matthias Gehringer

How did you get interested in Medicinal Chemistry?

I got interested in chemistry quite early, around the age of ten. At that time, however, I was more fascinated by, let's say, the reactions of compounds in high oxidation states. Later, towards the end of secondary school, I became more and more interested in the interactions of chemical compounds with biological systems, which was also partly due to my very passionate chemistry teacher who always established a link between chemistry and biology. When I started studying chemistry, it was already clear that I wanted to specialize in Medicinal Chemistry or Chemical Biology later on.

Where and when did you obtain your PhD diploma?

After studying chemistry in Karlsruhe, Heidelberg, and Montpellier, I went to Tübingen University to join the group of Prof. Stefan Laufer where I obtained my PhD in 2014. My main project aimed at the synthesis of non-covalent and covalent inhibitors of Janus kinase 3 (JAK3).

Where did you have your postdoc position?

I did my postdoc in the group of Prof. Karl-Heinz Altmann at ETH Zürich. I had a great time working on the total synthesis and investigation of the molecular mode of action of mycolactones, a class of natural products known as the virulence factors of Mycobacterium ulcerans causing the neglected disease Buruli ulcer.

What are your current research interests?

Most of my research centers on targeted covalent inhibitors for protein kinases as well as the chemistry enabling covalent targeting approaches. My group is also working on some other target classes including HECT-type E3 ligases. Currently, my major focus is on the development of chemical probes for understudied targets, but I'm also aiming for more translational research projects.

What do you like best about your work?

The diversity of challenges, the freedom to choose my own research fields, and the possibility to discover new things every day.

What kind of tasks does your work involve?

Research, teaching, leading a team, acquisition of funding and, unfortunately too many, administrative tasks.

What kind of skills does your work require?

Many! Curiosity is probably the most essential one but knowledge, creativity, critical thinking, commitment, persistence, social-, communication-, and team leader skills as well as intuition are also quite important.

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

I think that one is still about to come. :)

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

I've been involved in many interesting projects resulting in publications on covalent inhibitors for kinases like JAK3 and BMX, but also on the elucidation of the molecular mechanism of the neglected disease Buruli ulcer. Still, the paper I'm most proud of is my Perspective article on covalent "warheads" published 2019 in J. Med. Chem. It took me a lot of effort to write this paper but once it was published, it really received much attention in the community, and I received very positive feedback. At the end, it was absolutely worth the investment!

How many PhD students and postdocs do you currently supervise? Are you currently looking for a new PhD student or a postdoc?

I'm currently supervising four PhD students and one postdoc. I'm always happy to receive interesting applications, but I cannot offer any funded positions at the moment.

What is the most embarrassing thing you have done in the lab while doing experiments, e.g. explosions?

In the first months of my PhD thesis, I made a few beginner's mistakes. For example, I was a bit overambitious in scaling up a heterocycle chlorination reaction to generate larger amounts of my core scaffold. Unfortunately, a 2L beaker full of ice wasn't enough for quenching 300mL of phosphoryl chloride and it came to a runaway reaction. Cleaning the fume hood was awful! Around the same time, I also had a little accident spilling a portion from a large-scale Parikh-Doering Swern oxidation. You can imagine that my popularity in the lab wasn't very high on that day!

What are your recommendations for a book, podcast, website, blog, YouTube channel or film?

I can recommend the #MedChemCASES webinars organized by the GDCh Medicinal Chemistry Division's NextGenMedChem group (which I'm glad to be part of)!

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

I would not dare to select only one. We are currently seeing a rise of new enabling technologies such as cryo-EM, DNA-encoded libraries, AI-driven drug discovery and protein structure prediction and substantial advances in chemoproteomic profiling techniques, which I expect to trigger significant transformations in the field. Moreover, novel modalities like molecular glues or PROTACs open new targeting paradigms and expand the scope of what we consider druggable. At the same time, I think a lot of discoveries remain to be made in traditional target families. If you consider, for example, that so far roughly a third of the human kinome is severely understudied and the same applies to many other target classes, this suggests that a lot of "hidden treasures" are still waiting to be discovered. 

What would you expect to be the next major breakthrough in medicinal chemistry?

If I could predict that, I would be rich! I think medicinal chemists will keep pushing the boundaries in many different areas and emerging technologies like cryo-EM, CRISPR-Cas or AI will facilitate this process. One thing I'm definitely very excited about is the outcome of the ongoing clinical trials with the first PROTAC degraders.


The MedChem Division of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) would like to invite you to the next #MedChemCASES online seminar which will be held on May 18 by Prof. Cristina Nevado (University of Zurich, Switzerland).

The topic of the webinar will be "Exploring the chemistry and biology of CREBBP and EP300 Bromodomains".

Expanding the chemical space and simultaneously ensuring synthetic accessibility is of upmost importance, not only for the discovery of effective binders for novel protein classes but, more importantly, for the development of compounds against hard-to-drug proteins. In this talk we will introduce AutoCouple, a de novo approach to computational ligand design focused on the diversity-oriented generation of chemical entities via virtual couplings. In a benchmark application, chemically diverse compounds with low-nanomolar potency for the CBP bromodomain and high selectivity against the BRD4(1) bromodomain were achieved by the synthesis and design of ~50 derivatives of the original fragment. The binding mode was confirmed by X-ray crystallography, target engagement in cells was demonstrated, and antiproliferative activity was showcased in three cancer cell lines.

Register for free here:

#GDCh (MedChem Division), #NextGenMedChem.


The BMCS is delighted to invite nominations for the 10th Capps Green Zomaya Memorial Award in medicinal or computational chemistry. We would also like to announce some upcoming events.

  • 6th RSC Mastering Medicinal Chemistry Synposium
  • 21st RSC/SCI Medicinal Chemistry Symposium
  • 3rd RSC/SCI Symposium on Antimicrobial Drug Discovery


The BMCS is pleased to invite nominations for the tenth Capps Green Zomaya Memorial Award in medicinal or computational chemistry. The Award will be given to the individual judged to have made an important contribution to the discovery or development of new medicines. Nominations are invited for candidates, up to the age of 40, working in UK or international laboratories (candidates over the age of 40, who have taken career breaks, will be considered). A Royal Society of Chemistry commemorative medal and certificate will be awarded to accompany the prize of £2,000.

Nominations should be submitted no later than 31st October 2021 to:
Maggi Churchouse, RSC-BMCS Secretariat
Telephone: +44 (0)1359 221004 E-mail:
For further details, please access the activities link on

6th RSC-BMCS Mastering Medicinal Chemistry
29th to 30th June 2021 - Virtual event


Synopsis: The latest in an ongoing serious of conferences intended to provide expert advice and guidance and share best practice common to all successful medicinal chemists. Posters are invited for display throughout the meeting; closing date for abstract submission is 28th May 2021.

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


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

3rd RSC/SCI Symposium on Antimicrobial Drug Discovery
15th and 16th November 2021 - SCI, London, UK


Synopsis: Coinciding with WHO’s World Antibiotics Awareness week, this two-day meeting will examine the latest advances in antimicrobial drug discovery from a medicinal chemist’s perspective, focusing on the specific challenges associated with developing antimicrobials whilst also showcasing emerging strategies for tackling infection.




ACS Publications invites you to submit your research to leading publications Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry Letters. JMC publishes studies that contribute to an understanding of the relationship between molecular structure and biological activity or mode of action. MCL is interested in receiving manuscripts that discuss various aspects of medicinal chemistry.


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 Chemistsí Symposium


May 20, 2021
Making Chemistry Decisions in 2025


May 26, 2021
1st Spring Virtual Meeting on Medicinal Chemistry

June 18, 2021
VII SEQT Young Researcher Symposium

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)


June 27-July 1, 2021
40th Edition of the European School of Medicinal Chemistry (ESMEC)

September 13 Ė 17, 2021
EUROPIN Summer School on Drug Design

September 22-24, 2021
Summer School in Pharmaceutical Analysis (SSPA2021)

October 3-10, 2021
Leysin, Switzerland

14th Swiss Course on Medicinal Chemistry


Analytical Scientist, SYMERES, Groningen, THE NETHERLANDS
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Analytical Chemist, SYMERES, Nijmegen,THE NETHERLANDS
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(Senior) Organic Chemist, SYMERES, Nijmegen, THE NETHERLANDS
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Drug Hunter @Aqemia, AQEMIA, Paris, FRANCE
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