Monthly Newsletter March 2018


We would like to introduce EFMC’s a new Communication Team, which draws on the particular skills of the upcoming generation of medicinal chemists and chemical biologists.  A call for volunteers through EFMC’s usual channels, and during the Young Medicinal Chemist Symposium held in Vienna, produced a tremendous response and led to the gathering – electronically, of course – of group of highly motivated and energetic young scientists late last year. 

In addition to running and developing the traditional communication tools of the EFMC (website, mailing, e-newsletter MedChemWatch, and the annual Yearbook), the Communication Team will now take over some of the tasks of the “Visibility and recognition of Medicinal Chemistry” working group, and run communication campaigns and actions to reach the scientific community and the general public. 

The EFMC anticipates that the Communication Team can also be the catalyst for a broader network for Young Scientists, which will be linked to the increasingly successful EFMC-Young Medicinal Chemist Symposium series.

The EFMC communication team:

  • Kristina Goncharenko (chair), Spirochem, Switzerland
  • Fabrizio Giordanetto, D.E. Shaw Research LLC, USA
  • Raisa Haavikko, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Piia Kokkonen, Loschmidt Laboratories, Czech Republic
  • Paula Morales, Instituto de Química Física Rocasolano, Spain
  • Brieuc Matagne, EFMC, Belgium
  • Tamara Smidlehner, Ruder Boskovic Institute, Hungary
  • Matt Tozer (EC Sponsor), Consultant, UK
  • Mary Wheldon, University College London, UK


One of the first initiatives of the new Communication Team has been to expand EFMC’s presence on social media, and EFMC can now be found on Instagram! So be sure to follow-us!

EFMC is also present on LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter!


On our endeavor to make Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology better known, we at the EFMC’s communication team, have launched the project "I am a Medicinal Chemist/Chemical Biologist", where we will interview chemists working in the field. 

We hope that those interviews will inspire everyone! 

Karin Engen, Uppsala University, Sweden

What is your current position?
I’m a last year PhD student in Medicinal Chemistry at Uppsala university

How did you get interested in Medicinal Chemistry?
I’ve always been interested in the natural sciences and in high school I had an outstanding chemistry teacher who really awakened my interest to the field of chemistry. He also gave me the opportunity to go to the Berzelius days, which is the biggest chemistry meeting for high school students in Sweden. One of the lecturers showed us the beauty of medicinal chemistry and from that day I was hooked! I really like the combination of organic chemistry with the medicinal field.

What are your current research interests?
My PhD project involves identification and synthesis of Insulin-regulated amino peptidase (IRAP) inhibitors. Inhibition of IRAP has been shown to improve cognitive functions in several animal models and is considered as a potential target for treatment of cognitive disorders. Previously, most of the inhibitors have been peptide-based but we developed an assay amenable for HTS where we identified several small molecule-based inhibitors. We’re currently working on hit expansions on some of these.

What do you like most in your job?
I really like that I get the opportunity to do so many different things. Synthetic organic chemistry, analysis and biochemical testing of the compounds, as well as teaching undergraduate students. I like spending time with motivated people in the lab even though we’re working in different projects and in different areas of the medicinal chemistry field. The interdisciplinary discussions are what I like the most since I learn new things all the time. It satisfies my curious side that wants to know and learn as much as possible! Working as a PhD student has also given me a lot personally. A major challenge with a PhD project is to work independently and to find new ideas to tackle problems, and that has made me grow both as a scientist and as a person. I have learned to deal with pitfalls as experiments don’t always go as planned, and to manage a research project both independently and in a team.

What kind of tasks your job includes?
My job includes 80% research and 20% teaching. The teaching commonly involves supervision of lab courses and seminars in organic chemistry for undergraduate students. The research part is my PhD project which involves both synthesizing compounds as well as evaluating them as inhibitors in biochemical assays. I am also responsible for the NMR-instrument at the department which involves nitrogen and helium filling as well a basic maintenance of the instrument and software.

What kind of skills your job requires?
Except for all the ”standard” skills required for someone working in academia, like scientific writing, critical thinking, creativity, teaching, ability to learn and comprehend new information etc., I would say that some of the most important things when working as a PhD student is to be able to praise the failure and be persevering and courageous! Failure is a normal part of the process and sometimes it feels like getting a PhD is more of a test of endurance rather than knowledge, and you need to be brave from time to time to do something with what others don’t agree if you feel the potential. Of course, you also need to be able to work independently, to keep track of things you do (you will do a lot!), to be patient and believe in yourself (things will go wrong even though you gave your best), and last but not least; learn to get things done.

What is the most embarrassing thing you did in the lab while doing experiments, e.g. explosions?
Oh, this will make me sound like the most boring chemist ever, but so far I have manage to carry out my research project without any major fireworks in the fume hood. So far so good...

Which scientist do you admire the most and why?
Can I pick three? I would say Marie Curie for being the first woman to win the Nobel prize (twice!), Galileo Galilei for putting science before religion which must have been hard at that time, and Charles Darwin for knowing that the evidence he had for natural selection would cause people to get upset but he stuck with his conclusions and time has proven him right.
In everyday life, I would say that I admire scientists that are truly experts in their field and without any concerns shares their vast knowledge, allows you to ask an infinite number of questions without feeling stupid, and inspires you to continue and keep a positive mindset no matter how many hurdles you face along the way.


In case you missed the information, the electronic version of the official EFMC Yearbook 2018, "Medicinal Chemistry in Europe" is now available.

Don’t miss the opportunity to browse through this one-stop shop for the 2018 EFMC activities. 


The theme of the 14th Short Course is "Peptide Therapeutics: Inspiring Beacon of Hope for the Pharmaceutical Future” The course is intended for scientists working in the field, and the presentations will be given by senior scientists from industry and academia (see the list of speakers).

Course Outline

Peptides are a gigantic class of bioactive compounds, offering an immense chemical diversity as well as the potential for finding and characterising new targets and also for developing non-peptidic ‘analogues’. However, the development of peptides into clinically useful pharmaceuticals is full of challenges, including their pharmacokinetic properties (short biological half-life, lack of oral bioavailability, difficulties in reaching intracellular or intranuclear targets) and their conformational flexibility, which may cause reduced affinity and selectivity. However, recent developments in discovery, manufacturing and formulation, as well as in preclinical and clinical development, have triggered a resurgence of interest in peptide therapeutics.

This EFMC seminar will bring together enthusiastic, approachable experts, both from academia and industry, on selected hot aspects in the discovery and development of peptide therapeutics. Real life examples and interactive discussions will give the participants a unique opportunity to learn in a short time how the challenges in peptide therapeutics can be handled and overcome.

The fee of 1750€ includes 3 nights’ accommodation at the venue (, breakfast, coffee-breaks, lunches and dinners during the days of the course.

Register here!


Here you will find the important information you need on upcoming “EFMC Sponsored events”.

Medicinal Chemistry of Antimicrobials and Antiparasitics, March 23, 2018   Utrecht, The Netherlands

Still possible to register!


29th Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry in Eastern England, April 26, 2018   Fielder Centre, Hatfield, United Kingdom

Still possible to register!


Kinase 2018: Towards New Frontiers: 8th RSC / SCI Symposium on Kinase Inhibitor Design, May 14-15, 2018   Babraham Research Campus, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Poster abstract deadline is March 31!

Bursary application deadline is April 2!

Registration deadline is April 11!


4th RSC / DMDG New Perspectives in DMPK, May 21-22, 2018   London, United Kingdom

Poster abstract deadline is April 23!

Bursary application deadline is April 9!


The Scientific Committee of the European School of Medicinal Chemistry (ESMEC- Urbino) and the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC) offers 13 (10 + 3) scholarships for the participation to the XXXVIII edition of the school, scheduled from July 1 to July 5, 2018.

The scholarships, covering the registration fee and the full board accommodation, will be assigned to PhD students enrolled in Doctoral Schools held in one of the member countries of EFMC, excluding Italy.

Applicants are invited to fill in the enclosed form and to send it along with a CV, a motivation letter and the abstract of the research project, preferably by e-mail, stating in the subject box “ESMEC Grant Application”, within March 23, 2018 to:

Prof. Marco Macchia
University of Pisa

To find out more, we kindly invite you to visit the website

The latest edition of MedChemComm, the official journal of the EFMC, is available at:




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September 6-7, 2018
Ljubljana, Slovenia
5th EFMC Young Medicinal Chemist Symposium (EFMC-YMCS 2018)


June 22, 2018
Madrid, Spain
V SEQT Young Researchers Symposium

June 27, 2018
Dublin, Ireland
2nd Medicinal Chemistry Ireland Conference

November 12-13, 2018
London, United Kingdom
2nd SCI/RSC Symposium on Antimicrobial Drug Discovery



September 19-21, 2018
Rimini, Italy
Summer School in Pharmaceutical Analysis (SSPA)

October 7-12, 2018
Leysin, Switzerland
13th Swiss Course on Medicinal Chemistry


Medicinal / Synthetic Organic Chemists, Concept Life Sciences: Drug Discovery, Sandwich, Kent, United Kingdom

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MsC student or PhD internship, KU Leuven: Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Leuven, Belgium

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