Monthly Newsletter June 2022


The EFMC is very proud to announce the 2022 EFMC Honorary Fellows.

EFMC Honorary Fellow is a life-long title with the aim to recognise individuals who have provided outstanding support to the EFMC and contributed in strengthening the position of medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, or related fields in Europe.

Congratulations and thanks to:

  • Dr Dave Alker for his active role within the various leading boards of the EFMC, and his extraordinary commitment to the support of the EFMC Young Medicinal Chemists’ Symposium (EFMC-YMCS). Dr Alker has been an active member of the Executive Committee, Council, and Industry Liaison committee - increasing the visibility of EFMC activities within companies which employ medicinal chemists as well as those related industries for whom medicinal chemistry is an enabling science or for whom medicinal chemists represent a significant customer base. Dr Dave Alker has significantly contributed to the Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector (BMCS) of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and helped disseminating the news and activities of the EFMC to the United Kingdom communities of Medicinal Chemists and Chemical Biologists and can be regarded as a strong link between his national adhering organisation and the EFMC.
  • Prof. Gabriele Costantino has been a member of the Executive Committee of the EFMC from 2011 until 2014, before joining the Council of the EFMC from 2017 until 2019, and from 2021 until the present days. He collaborated in the creation of the EFMC newsletter “MedChem(Bio)Watch” and acted as editor-in-chief for almost a decade. With its high quality content composed of editorials, perspective articles and reports of EFMC events and activities, the newsletter greatly helped disseminating the EFMC brand to the scientific community  and contributed to strengthening the position of medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, and related fields in Europe. In addition, Prof. Costantino has significantly contributed to the Division of Medicinal Chemistry of the Italian Chemical Society and worked as powerful ambassador between the Italian community and the EFMC.
  • Dr Kristina Goncharenko for her active participation in the creation of the EFMC Young Scientists Network. She was one of the driving forces behind the creation of this group in 2019 and has helped to continuously growit. Her vision and sense of leadership has contributed to the success of the network. Dr Goncharenko also supported the EFMC within the communication team, helping to resent our Federation to the new generation via an improved presence on social media and various branding activities such as the interviews and photo competitions. In addition, Kristina Goncharenko has contributed to the Division for Medicinal Chemistry & Chemical Biology of the Swiss Chemical Society and worked at increasing the visibility of our Federation within the Swiss community.
  • Dr Peter Mohr has made substantial contributions in a wide range of medicinal chemistry areas, building on an outstanding level of scientific achievement in his career, in particular in the design of chemical probes for the unravelling of biological processes as well as in the development of several first-in-class candidates. Dr Mohr has expanded the knowledge and expertise in several important disease areas such as oncology, dermatology, psoriasis, and Type II diabetes. Besides his scientific achievements, Dr Peter Mohr has contributed significantly to the Swiss Chemical Society and contributed to the EFMC in quality of Council Member for more than 8 years as well as active members of various EFMC initiatives and working groups until today.

The award ceremony will take place during the opening of the XXVII EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC-ISMC 2022), scheduled to take place in Nice, France on September 4-8, 2022. Appointed Honorary Fellows will be invited to attend the meeting and receive their recognition on stage.

The EFMC Recognition Programme will continue awarding outstanding contributors to EFMC and sciences in the future. More information will be available here:


In its 12th edition of the now renowned MedChemBioOnline series, the EFMC Young Scientists Network is proud to offer an exciting programme around the topic of Covalent Chemical Probes and Drugs, with an opening lecture on “What Makes Drug Discovery Teams Successful?”

The event will take place on June 21 between 17:00 and 19:15 CEST. Have a look at the programme:

  • What Makes Drug Discovery Teams Successful?
    Dr Mark Murcko (Dewpoint Therapeutics, United States) 
  • Sponsor Lecture 
  • Covalent Inhibitors Targeting the Protein Kinases’ Cysteinome
    Dr Matthias Gehringer (University of Tübingen, Germany) 
  • Round Table Discussion: "Designing Irreversible Inhibitors: Advantages and Challenges"
    Dr Simona Cotesta (Novartis, Switzerland)
    Dr Matthias Gehringer (University of Tübingen, Germany)
    Prof. Nir London (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)
    Prof. Rui Moreira (University of Lisbon, Portugal)

More info and registration on

Interested in becoming the exclusive sponsor of the event? Reach out to us at


The “literature spotlight” section of the newsletter will bring you a summary of recently published research in a concise and accessible way. Multiple thematics from different journals will be highlighted thanks to the valuable contribution of members of the EFMC working groups.

This latest contribution will focus on the recently published article “Adsorption to the Surface of Hemozoin Crystals: Structure-Based Design and Synthesis of Amino-Phenoxazine β-Hematin Inhibitors” in ChemMedChem, the official journal of the EFMC.

New antimalarial hit compounds are desperately needed due to the threat of resistance against available clinically relevant treatments. The heme detoxification pathway is one of the most common targets for antimalarial drug development.

In this study, the authors found a statistically significant correlation between the experimental β-hematin inhibition and the adsorption of the inhibitor to the β-hematin crystal surface. This is the first study to predict the β-hematin inhibitory activity in silico before the synthesis and experimental testing.

The authors tested 53 mono-, bi- or tricyclic scaffolds, demonstrating that the tricyclic scaffolds yield the most favorable adsorption energies and good-to-moderate β-hematin inhibitory activity. The compounds were also tested against the 3D7 strain to confirm their antimalarial activity.

The in silico method discussed provides a tool that can be used to design and test scaffolds and substituents to maximize the interactions with the β-hematin crystal surface. This will accelerate the design of new hemozoin inhibitors as only the most promising compounds need to be synthetized and experimentally tested.

By Tania Olivier, Leigh Loots, Michélle Kok, Marianne de Villiers, Janette Reader, Lyn-Marié Birkholtz, Gareth E. Arnott and Katherine A. de Villiers.


Because recognising excellence and merits is important since the early stage, EFMC and its Young Scientists Network created the "EFMC-YSN PhD Prize".

For this third edition, the selection committee designated Dr Johannes Morstein (University of California, United States) as the winner of the 2022 EFMC-YSN PhD Prize. Ms Vanesa Nozal Garcia (CIB - CISC, Spain) and Ms Eleonora Comeo (University of Nottingham, United Kingdom) are the most meritorious runners-up.

Johannes Morstein

The prize will consist of a diploma, a 500€ grant and free registration for the XXVII EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC-ISMC 2022) and EFMC Young Medicinal Chemists' Symposium (EFMC-YMCS 2022) which will take place in Nice, France on September 4-8 & September 8-9, 2022.


Do you feel up to the challenge to show what Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology mean to you!?

"MedChemBio Realness" is the topic of our 2022 photo competition. We invite researchers from any level (eg. students to expert professionals) and affiliation (eg. academia and industry), to submit a picture showing the reality of Medicinal Chemistry/Chemical Biology, why it is important and what it represents in your everyday life.

The submitted pictures will be judged by a first round of online voting and the 20 best shots will be showcased at the EFMC-ISMC 2022 for attendees to vote live!

Submit your best picture, and win up to €50! Two runners-up will also be acknowledged and will receive 25€ each

Closing date: July 10, 2022

Enter the competition!


In this edition, our #Iamamedicinalchemist is Prof. Herbert Waldmann from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology Dortmund and TU Dortmund, Germany. He is also the recent winner of the 2022 Nauta Pharmacochemistry Award for Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

Discover his story by reading our interview below.

Herbert Waldmann

How did you get interested in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology?

I was intrigued by the question which structural features make small molecules bioactive and relevant to biology? We then devised new principles and concepts for bioactive compound design (inspired by natural product structures, i.e. classes of compounds that are biologically relevant by definition), developed the corresponding synthesis programs (including new enantioselective catalysis methods), evaluated the new compounds in unbiased phenotypic assays, identified and validated the targets, and finally explored the most promising compounds in disease-relevant settings. This continuum of investigations defines chemical biology research leading straight into medicinal chemistry.

Where and when did you obtain your PhD diploma? 

I graduated from the University of Mainz in 1985. My thesis focussed on the development of new protecting group strategies for glycopeptide synthesis. Working in the group of Horst Kunz, I introduced the allyl ester into glycoconjugate synthesis. Afterwards, I did my Post Doc with George Whitesides at Harvard University in 1985-1986.

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

I jointly hold positions as Director of the Department of Chemical Biology at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund and as Full Professor of Biochemistry in the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at TU Dortmund. 

My work requires being a scientist and researcher, teacher, mentor, manager, advisor, consultant, company founder, ….. (as holds for many, if not all of my peer group).

What are your current research interests?

The underlying question described above has been a consistent motivation for my group. We are a team of organic chemists, biochemists, biologists and computer scientists which fuse these disciplines into chemical biology research. We develop new concepts for bioactive compound design (now integrating underlying principles of chemical evolution), synthesize these compounds, including the development of new methods, e.g. in enantioselective catalysis, investigate the resulting compound collections in target-agnostic phenotypic and morphological cellular assays and then identify the cellular targets and modes of actions of the new bioactive compounds, and if these are related to human disease we advance them into drug discovery. This multidisciplinary program has given rise to a “Chemical Evolution of Natural Product Structure”, and “Pseudo-Natural Products” now in preclinical investigation.

What do you like best about your work?

The freedom to work on what interests me most, and the singular moments of discovery and insight.

What kind of skills does your work require?

Most important is the ability to repeatedly generate good ideas, see underlying principles behind data sets and derive new concepts and principles from them which will then guide future research. But people skills and the ability to motivate come next. In science being a good communicator is of high importance. And, finally, a certain degree of robustness, both mental and physical, is required. Personally, for long-time success, I try to consistently operate at 95% of my maximal capacity (which requires that the 100% threshold has been identified), which leaves sufficient bandwidth to go beyond 100% on short notice and whenever required.

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

Currently, we are a group of ca. 25 students, Post Docs, Senior Scientists and associates. Applications by excellent Post Doc candidates are always welcome. Since I will adopt Emeritus status in the coming years, I do not accept Ph. D. students in my group anymore.

How would you describe yourself as a supervisor?

Good science needs the air of freedom to explore own ideas and to be creative, and I leave my students and Post Docs the required room. Certainly, I am demanding, and all members of my group work hard. But I will always welcome a good beer on a Friday afternoon and a barbecue on the terrace adjacent to the lab. The social atmosphere in a group is of high importance.

What are the features of a successful PhD student or postdoc?

Be rich in creative ideas, boldly tackle them, work hard to reach your goals and differentiate the doable from the unreachable. In other words: inspiration, motivation, transpiration.

What would you like to ask from other medicinal chemists?

Don´t be dogmatic (dogma never helps), and don´t be shy to embrace new developments and new fields. After all, the ultimate goal is to cure diseases. The patient does not care whether this is achieved by a small molecule, a peptide, a protein or a nucleic acid vaccine. These are all chemical entities, hence their discovery and development needs medicinal chemists.

Have you experienced any unfair situations during your scientific career? How would you advise scientists facing similar situations?

At times reviews (for instance of papers and applications, or by company-internal Boards) are perceived unfair, but I cannot say that I faced such an outcome too often. In my experience, taking such situations easy and not being too annoyed (of course, there is annoyance; nobody wants to be rejected) helps. Take out emotions, sleep over it once, and then react, tomorrow will be a new day. You win a few, you lose a few … let´s continue.

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

I consider the discovery of general concepts to guide organic synthesis for chemical biology and medicinal chemistry, as the work that will have widest and long-lasting impact. We progressed from natural products and Biology-Oriented Synthesis to Pseudo-Natural Products and a chemical evolution of natural product structure.

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

The concepts have been developed and proven in a series of papers. They are detailed in three Concept articles in Nature Chemistry (2020), Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. (2021) and the Journal of the American Chemical Society (2022). The original Biology-Oriented Synthesis idea was developed in three papers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2004-6, and the Pseudo-Natural Product principle was first described in a Nature Chemistry paper in 2018.

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

In the introductory organic chemistry lab course, I managed to explode a small flask I held in my hand. Fortunately, there were no serious consequences. This experience taught me to be cautious, and I never had to face such an accident again.

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

For Medicinal Chemists I recommend “The Billion Dollar Molecule” and its congener “The Antidote” (both by Barry Worth). This case-study showcases the rise of the Biotech era in the few square meters around Kendall Square, Cambridge, Ma since the mid-eighties. It is entertaining to read (you will know the main characters), and gives an insight into the early days of the Biotech Industry. Those who know Kendall Square in 1986 and 35 years later may have good stories to tell at dinner.

Which scientist do you admire the most and why?

I am fascinated by Justus von Liebig and Emil Fischer. Liebig is considered the Founder of Organic Chemistry and of Agricultural Chemistry and worked on Physiology as well. Fischer raised Organic Chemistry to unprecedented heights (beautifully showcases for instance in his first total syntheses of carbohydrates), and his research ranged from amino acids and saccharides through heterocycles and peptides to proteins and enzymes. He proposed the “lock and key” principle.

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

Among the therapeutic areas I note a rising interest and promise in targeting immunological disorders, and I have shifted much of my own interest there. In terms of targets, modulation of RNAs and of transcription factors hold a lot of promise. We will have to be open to different chemical modalities.

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

We will learn how to systematically identify and develop small molecules that will not inhibit or activate their targets, but that will induce modulation of their activity by different mechanisms and modes of action. Induced target degradation is a first example for this generation of drug discovery programs.


The DMCCB is pleased to invite you to the Peptide Therapeutics Forum 2022 taking place at the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland, August 25 and 26, the Swiss Summer School on Chemical Biology taking place in Les Diablerets, Switzerland, September 11-15, 2022, as well as the 14th Swiss Course on Medicinal Chemistry taking place in Leysin, Switzerland, from November 8-10, 2022.

The Peptide Therapeutics Forum 2022 is a two-day event that promotes exchange on the various aspects of peptides with a focus on drug development ( It will take place on August 25 and 26, 2022 at the University Hospital Basel, Switzerland. The outstanding speaker line-up features 16 lectures of internationally recognized speakers from both academia and industry. The goal of the event is to disseminate information on the latest developments in the broad field of therapeutic peptides and to stimulate a discussion on future trends and opportunities. To increase networking amongst the peptide community, there will also be a poster session and Apéro on the first day of the event.

The Swiss Summer School on Chemical Biology, Les Diablerets, September 11-15, 2022

The Swiss Summer School on Chemical Biology will take place at the Eurotel Victoria in Les Diablerets (VD), and is open to MSc, PhD and postdoctoral students as well as to researchers from industry.

The goal of the Swiss Summer Schools on Chemical Biology and on Chemical Synthesis is to present the state-of-the-art in the respective discipline. Rather than focusing on classroom content, the mission of the schools is to inspire and motivate the participants for the subject matter.

The body of lecturers consists of three university professors and three researchers from industry: Dr. Ingmar M. Hoerr (Founder CureVac), Prof. Claudia Höbartner (Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg), Dr. Jean Quancard (Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research), Prof. Andrea Rentmeister (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Münster), Dr. Tamara Reyes Robles (Merck Exploratory Science Center), and Prof. Edward Tate (Imperial College London).

In addition, the work of a chemist in industry along with the career opportunities will be highlighted by R&D as well as by HR representatives of four different companies (Bachem, Idorsia, Senn Chemicals, and Valsynthese; see Industry Lectures and Career Session in

The Summer School will accept a maximum of 50 students, who will be actively involved in the program. There are poster and short communication sessions, with the best presenters being awarded a prize sponsored by Helvetica Chimica Acta.

Registration will close on June 13, 2022. Notification of acceptance to the school will follow two weeks later. Due to the generous support of our sponsors, students are charged only for accommodation (full board), i.e. no tuition.

We strongly recommend you to visit the Summer School Website ( and hope to see you in September in Les Diablerets.

The 14th Swiss Course on Medicinal Chemistry is taking place in Leysin, Switzerland, from November 8-10. This EFMC certified course will focus on most modern aspects associated with small molecule drug discovery, highlighting the methodologies and technologies supporting hit generation, lead finding and lead optimization campaigns. A considerable number of experts from industry and academia will contribute to this year’s course: Dr. Sabine Hadida (Vice President at Vertex Pharmaceuticals), Dr. Robert Copeland (Chief Scientific Officer of Accent Therapeutics), Dr. Andrew Mortlock (Vice President Oncology Projects and Alliances at Astra Zeneca), Dr. Nicholas A. Meanwell (Vice President at Bristol Myers Squibb), Dr. Andy Phillips (Managing Director at Cormorant Asset Management), Prof. Dr. Gerhard Klebe (University of Marburg) and Prof. Dr. Peter Tonge (Stony Brook University, New York). Note that the course is fully booked. If you are interested in participating please contact Kataryna Borsuk to put your name on the waiting list. For more information please visit the event’s website.


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 June 22 by Dr Simona Cotesta (Novartis, Switzerland).

The topic of the webinar will be "Discovery of JDQ443, a structurally novel, potent and selective covalent oral inhibitor of KRASG12C

RAS is the most frequently mutated oncogene in cancer, with KRAS G12C mutations most commonly found in lung adenocarcinoma, colorectal cancer, and other solid tumor malignancies. Covalent inhibitors of KRASG12C have shown antitumor activity against advanced/metastatic KRAS G12C-mutated cancers. Here we report the identification of a new class of pyrazole based KRASG12C inhibitors discovered by structure based de-novo design. The compounds bind to the KRASG12C switch II pocket with a novel binding mode, exploiting unique interactions with the GDP-bound form of the KRASG12C protein.  We describe the hit to lead and lead optimization by structure-based design of the novel chemical series leading to the discovery of NVP-JDQ443 (JDQ443), a novel, potent and selective, orally bioavailable KRASG12C covalent inhibitor. JDQ443 showed dose dependent antitumor efficacy in KRAS G12C-mutated cell-derived models and is currently in clinical development as monotherapy as well as in combination with TNO155, a SHP2 inhibitor (NCT04699188).

Register for free here:

#GDCh (MedChem Division), #NextGenMedChem.



The BMCS is delighted to announce some upcoming events.

  • AI in Chemistry: 5th RCS-BMCS /RSC-CICAG Artificial Intelligence in Chemistry
  • 8th RSC/SCI symposium on GPCRs in Medicinal Chemistry
  • RSC-BMCS Targeted Protein Degradation: “Three’s a crowd?”

AI in Chemistry: 5th RCS-BMCS /RSC-CICAG Artificial Intelligence in Chemistry

1st  and 2nd September 2022, Churchill College, Cambridge and virtual


Synopsis:  Artificial Intelligence is presently experiencing a renaissance in development of new methods and practical applications to ongoing challenges in Chemistry. Following the successes of three annual “Artificial Intelligence in Chemistry” meetings starting in 2018, we are pleased to announce that the Biological & Medicinal Chemistry Sector (BMCS) and Chemical Information & Computer Applications Group (CICAG) of the Royal Society of Chemistry are once again organising a conference to present the current efforts in applying these new methods. The meeting will be held over two days and combine aspects of artificial intelligence and deep machine learning methods to applications in chemistry


8th RSC/SCI symposium on GPCRs in Medicinal Chemistry

5th to 7th October 2022, Verona, Italy

Delegate Registration and Exhibitor/Sponsor registration is now open
The call for poster abstracts will close on Thursday, 11th August

Closing date for bursary application is Tuesday, 23rd August


Synopsis: The key role of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in human disease underpins their importance to modern medicine. We are pleased to be holding this 8th meeting in the series on GPCR drug discovery, which will combine cutting edge medicinal chemistry with innovative structural biology and novel drug design approaches.


RSC-BMCS Targeted Protein Degradation: “Three’s a crowd ?”
16th and 17th November 2022, Virtual

Abstract submission will be open soon, please keep checking website for updates


Synopsis: Targeted protein degradation is a rapidly developing field of drug discovery which is expanding the proportion of human proteins which are tractable drug targets. Whereas conventional small molecules are designed to block the activity of a protein, targeted protein degraders act by harnessing biological pathways to remove the protein entirely. This conference will showcase presentations showing the application and development of degradation technologies such as molecular glues and heterobifunctional degraders (e.g. PROTACs)




Schrödinger is transforming the way therapeutics and materials are discovered. Schrödinger has pioneered a physics-based software platform that enables discovery of high-quality, novel molecules for drug development and materials applications more rapidly and at lower cost compared to traditional methods. The software platform is used by biopharmaceutical and industrial companies, academic institutions, and government laboratories around the world.

Read more


June 21, 2022
Online Event 
12th EFMC-YSN MedChemBioOnline 

September 4-8, 2022
Nice, France
XXVll EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry 

September 8-9, 2022
Nice, France
9th EFMC Young Medicinal Chemists' Symposium 


July 6-7, 2022
Online Event
2nd Transatlantic ECI GPCR Symposium

July 22, 2022
Barcelona, Spain
VIII SEQT Young Researchers Symposium

July 27-29, 2022
Rome, Italy
3rd Molecules Medicinal Chemistry Symposium (MMCS)

August 8-9, 2022
Dublin, Ireland
Chemical Biology Ireland Conference

September 11-14, 2022
Bari, Italy
27th National Meeting in Medicinal in Medicinal Chemistry

September 15-17, 2022
Ljubljana, Slovenia
9th BBBB International Conference on Pharmaceutical Sciences - Pharma sciences of tomorrow

September 26-30, 2022
Heidelberg, Germany
23rd European Symposium on Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship


July 3-7, 2022
Urbino, Italy
41st Edition of the European School of Medicinal Chemistry (ESMEC 2022)

July 19-21, 2022
Barcelona, Spain
Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology in Drug Discovery: the Pharma Perspective

September 11-15, 2022
Les Diablerets (VD), Switzerland
Swiss Summer School on Chemical Biology

October 9-14, 2022
Leysin, Switzerland
Swiss School on Medicinal Chemistry in Leysin


September 21-23, 2022
Rimini, Italy
Summer School in Pharmaceutical Analysis (SSPA2022)

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