Monthly Newsletter May 2018


In the last MedChemWatch, we introduced you to half of EFMC’s new Communication Team, and this month we present the rest of the team.  One of the team’s primary aims is to raise awareness and visibility of Medicinal Chemistry, and, as you will see if you read on, we launch a new Photo Competition which culminates at EFMC-ISMC 2018 in Ljubljana in September. 

Meet the team:

Kristina Goncharenko works in the business development team at SpiroChem, fine chemicals company based in Basel, Switzerland. Her main goal is to support medicinal chemists around the globe in designing drugs of tomorrow. She completed her PhD at the University of Basel in a diverse field: by combining biochemistry, biology and chemistry her project was focused on understanding the mechanism of a novel enzyme called sulfoxide synthase. Kristina is an active member of the Swiss Chemical Society and helps to strengthen the communication between pharmaceutical industry and young chemists. She believes that having a close network of medicinal chemists and chemical biologists will support innovation in science.

Piia Kokkonen is a post doctoral researcher currently working at Loschmidt Laboratories. She got her PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry in 2015 from the University of Eastern Finland where she studied sirtuin inhibitors. The increased activity of sirtuins is associated with many health benefits and longer lifespan, but in her project she was only able to find compounds to inhibit their function. She has no intention to make people sick and live shorter lives, though, as also sirtuin inhibitors could be useful in the treatment of some health problems, such as diabetes or cancer. When moving to Czech Republic Piia moved slightly away from her comfort zone of drug design and started designing enzymes, as obviously it is not challenging enough to design small molecules. She is now working with haloalkane dehalogenases which can detoxify industrial waste waters and warfare chemicals. Soon she will start her Marie SkBodowska-Curie fellowship which focuses on the computational study of substrate inhibition and how one could engineer enzymes to avoid this problem. Piia joined the Communication Team to promote the slightly bizarre field of medicinal chemistry to everyone and because she enjoyed taking care of the social media communication during a conference she took part in organizing.

Tamara Šmidlehner obtained her PhD in Medicinal chemistry in 2018 at the Ruder Boskovic Institute, Zagreb, Croatia. Her interdisciplinary PhD research included synthesis of novel cyanine-based molecular sensors for recognition of differently structured double stranded-DNA/RNA and proteins. The recognition is based on highly selective fluorescence response triggered upon formation of supramolecular complexes with biomacromolecules. These noncytotoxic molecular sensors showed as highly specific fluorescent mitochondria stains, but also as novel probes for monitoring β-amyloid fibrillation process in fluorescence assays. Thanks to the different scholarships she visited several foreign laboratories (Warwick University, UK; University Grenoble-Alpes, France, University of Parma, Italy) where she has done part of her PhD research and obtained valuable experience in different spectroscopic techniques.
Fabrizio Giordanetto leads medicinal chemistry and drug discovery projects at D E Shaw Research. A trained medicinal chemist from the University of Genoa (M.Sc.) and University of London (Ph.D.), Fabrizio has over 15 years of experience in drug discovery and has delivered several clinical candidates in multiple therapeutic areas, resulting in more than 100 publications and international patents. Prior to joining DESRES, he directed the medicinal chemistry activities at Taros Chemicals. Fabrizio has also served as drug discovery Project Leader and Principal Scientist in medicinal chemistry at AstraZeneca after starting his industrial career at Pharmacia (Pfizer Inc.). Fabrizio has chaired the “Visibility and recognition” working group of the EFMC, dedicating himself in raising the visibility and awareness of Medicinal Chemistry and the EFMC to the broader community and the general public. He is looking forward to continue this mission within the EFMC communication team.
Brieuc Matagne studied communication, marketing and political sciences at the University of Louvain, Belgium. Interested by the event planning world for a long time, he joined LD Organisation in 2014 as Conference Manager. In mid-2015, he started managing the Administrative Secretariat of the EFMC as part of his mission at LD Organisation. Since then, he is working behind the scene in helping running the daily business of the EFMC together with the Executive Committee Members. Lone non-scientist in this team of talented ones, he is using his expertise in communication and planning to assist the team in their mission to increase the EFMC visibility and brand awareness.

Please get in touch with us, and share content or suggests:


The EFMC is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Awards:

Nauta Pharmacochemistry Award for Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Prof. Christa Müller – University of Bonn, Germany

For her extensive contribution to the field of adenosine and purinergic receptors, from the design of novel ligands to the study of their therapeutic potential, and for her support of the European Medicinal Chemistry community. Dr. Müller is a highly cited scientist who has developed a number of tool compounds now used by many labs around the world. She has set up numerous international collaborations, and is a co-founder of the Pharmacenter in Bonn. Her noted contributions to the Medicinal Chemistry community include continued editorial and advisory duties, educational initiatives, and the organization of international conferences.

UCB-Ehrlich Award for Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry
Prof. Adam Nelson – University of Leads, United Kingdom

For his ground breaking work to explore novel chemical space, especially natural product-like, diversity-oriented and activity-directed synthesis.  Prof. Nelson implemented his vision that chemical synthesis should align with drug discovery needs, and introduced methods that have been taken up by the medicinal chemistry community to profile synthetic targets for lead-likeness and chemical novelty. He plays an important role in the European Lead Factory, chairing its Library Selection Committee, and leads the “Next Generation Chemistry for Medicine” theme at the Rosalind Franklin Institute, in the UK.

Prous Institute-Overton and Meyer Award for New Technologies in Drug Discovery
Prof. Benjamin Cravatt – Scripps Research Institute, United States

For his major contribution to the development of chemical proteomics, and in particular the introduction and refinement of the activity-based protein profiling (ABPP) technology. This novel approach allows the study of enzyme function in complex systems: This, and the efforts of Prof. Cravatt to identify tools for chemical biology, led to the identification of novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of human diseases of the central nervous system

The Awards will be presented during the XXV EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC-ISMC 2018), scheduled to be held on September 2-6, 2018 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.


The EFMC is proud to announce the names of the winners and the runners-up of the 2018 Prizes:


  • Winner: Marton Csékei (Servier Research Institute of Medicinal Chemistry, Hungary) 
  • Runner-up: Giovanni Bottegoni (Heptares Therapeutics, United Kingdom)


  • Winner: Alexander Titz (HIPS Saarbrüken, Germany)
  • Runner-up: Laura Heitman (LACDR, Leiden University, The Netherlands)
  • Runner-up: Markus Muttenthaler (University of Vienna, Austria)

The EFMC Prizes Ceremony will take place during the XXV EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC-ISMC 2018), scheduled to be held on September 2-6, 2018 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Marton Csékei and Alexander Titz will be invited to give an Oral Communication during the Symposium.


Do you feel up to the challenge to show what Medicinal Chemistry means to you!? Take part to the competition and win up to 200€!

"Reality of Medicinal Chemistry" is a new competition launched by the EFMC. It invites medicinal chemists and chemical biologists around the globe to submit a picture showing the reality of Medicinal Chemistry/Chemical Biology, why it is important and what it represents on your everyday life.

We want scientists from any level (e.g. students to expert professionals) and affiliation (e.g. academia and industry), to take the best shot possible and enter the competition!

The pictures will be judged by a two-round public voting. First online and afterwards during EFMC-ISMC 2018, where best shots will be displayed at the for participants to vote live!

Submit the best picture of your everyday science, and win up to €200 in the EFMC’s photo competition!

Enter the competition!


MedChemWatch is pleased to share another interview from our ongoing multi-media series "I am a Medicinal Chemist/Chemical Biologist".  Have look and if you feel inspired, please share your story with us at

Federico Munafò - Looking for a Ph.D. Position

What is your current position?
I have just graduated in Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology from University of Pisa and now I am looking for a PhD position. Meanwhile I am working in a laboratory where I perform chemical analysis on food contact materials.

How did you get interested in Medicinal Chemistry?
I have been addicted to chemistry since high school thanks to incredible teachers. During my last year I had the opportunity to spend some days in a research centre where I met a research group focused on the development of polymers for medical uses. This meeting made me curious about application of chemistry in the medical field. That’s how I met medicinal chemistry and I fell in love with it. Figure out how a pill of a NSAID can ease the pain by applying organic chemistry is really amazing, isn’t it?

What are your current research interests?
My master thesis project, which has been carried out at the University of Copenhagen in the research group headed by Associate Professor Anders Bach, was focused on ischaemic stroke. Depletion of oxygen and glucose, due to blood flow reduction, initiates a series of biochemical reactions after minutes of ischaemia, together called ischaemic cascade, that lead to the production of reactive oxygen species, and at present the only available therapy focuses on restoring an adequate flow of blood to the brain without counteract oxidative stress. An emerging therapeutic strategy against ischaemic stroke is to disrupt the protein-protein interaction between Nrf2 and its repressor protein Keap1, thus boosting the Nrf2-dependent defence against oxidative stress.

What do you like most about your job?
Undoubtedly, I like to wake up in the morning without knowing what the day holds for me. I don’t want to write “see yesterday” every evening on my diary. This job gives the opportunity to do different things. One day you can be an organic chemist and the day after you can perform biochemical tests. Another aspect that I really like is that team work is the basis of this job. You cannot achieve results without the contribution of your workmates, but, at the same time, your work is fundamental to reach the goal. Finally, interdisciplinary meetings are always a good opportunity to learn something new.

What kind of tasks does your job include?
I work in a chemical synthesis laboratory. My tasks involve organic synthesis, characterisation and purification of compounds with different scaffolds, such as sulfonamides, benzo[7]annulene derivates, and benzotriazole derivates. Furthermore, I prepare presentations about my work for group meetings and I daily update my laboratory book.

What kind of skills does your job require?
From a professional standpoint, a good knowledge of organic chemistry and spectroscopy (mainly NMR and Mass Spectroscopy) makes the job easier. Except for these “standard” requires, I think that motivation, curiosity and perseverance are keys issue to succeed in this regard. Research is certainly fascinating, but quite often could be stressful. We should learn from failures. As is often said, bad results are still results. Well, you know, it is just the way life is. Another key require is the ability to work as a team. We must be cohesive team. As I said previously, you cannot achieve results without the contribution of your workmates, but, at the same time, your work is fundamental to reach the goal.

What is the most embarrassing thing you did in the lab while doing experiments?
Once I was synthesising a new compound starting from a mercaptan and probably I did not close properly the reagent vial or the reaction vessel. What is certain is that a stench was smelled all around the laboratory. At the next group meeting we talked about the project...and why mercaptans have a disgusting smell.

Which scientist do you admire the most and why?
That’s a tough question. I admire for sure Giulio Natta. His studies led to the synthesis of polypropylene and we all well know the importance of this polymer in our daily life. I also admire Margherita Hack for her professional highlights, but mainly for her activities outside of science and her thoughts about ethics. Finally, I admire Alexander Fleming. I guess we all agree that his discovery changed the fate of a lot of people.

Contact Federico at


Free submission of posters is extended until May 15! After this date, a handling fee of 50,00€ for late submission will be requested.

Submit your poster!

The Scientific Programme of EFMC-ISMC 2018 is available!

Register now in order to learn about drug discovery advances in major therapeutic areas. The 2018 programme will present the most recent advances in up-to-date topics and will tackle some out-of-the-box areas of Medicinal Chemistry. Chemical Biology approaches to target identification will cover the interfaces between chemistry, biology and experimental medicine. Particular emphasis will be put on first time disclosures, recent highlights in medicinal chemistry, and the impact of artificial intelligence in drug discovery.

More info and registration on


Do not miss the opportunity to listen to Professor Cristina Nevado’s lecture! This inspiring leader in the field will deliverthe opening talkand join the networking event and poster session. This should be the perfect occasion for informal interactions with her and the other speakers.

The symposium will also give you the chance to share your scientific achievements with your peers, build a network and enjoy a unique and lively meeting designed by and for young chemists.

    Deadline for oral communication/Flash Poster submissions: May 29, 2018

    Deadline for poster submissions: July 10, 2018

More info and registration on


The 14th Short Course on Medicinal Chemistry was held at the beautiful green estate of Oud-Poelgeest castle in Oegstgeest, Netherlands. The course attracted fifteen participants from academia and industry, not only from Europe but as also peptide-enthusiasts from Australia and Republic of South Africa.

Although schedule of the course was quite intense, the atmosphere was pleasant and relaxed, facilitating easy interactions between speakers and participants

Speakers gave a really nice overview of peptide development in drug discovery starting with a quite thorough introduction on potential therapeutic effects of peptides, covering their molecular targets in cells and listing their advantages and disadvantages as drugs. Then, a very comprehensive overview on different synthetic approaches to enhance ADME properties of the peptide of interest was presented, followed by group-work on several case studies during which participants could apply the obtained knowledge but also express their creativity and ideas often proposing different potential solutions. This also helped participants to connect and exchange expertise and experiences with each other.

The next day, interesting presentations continued with demystifying the role of known small peptides found in nature and how those can be applicable in biotechnology and biomedical purposes. Furthermore, a fascinating new door in peptide therapeutics was opened with phage display methodology, supported by very detailed experimental approach towards phage application in designing peptide of interest. The course finished with an intriguing lecture on discovery and development of macrocyclic peptides as drugs presenting their properties, optimization methods and approaches towards their efficient synthesis with some real examples in peptide drug discovery.

In addition, the course included a city tour around charming Leiden and social dinner in local restaurant. For sure participants left this course enriched with new knowledge and connections, and thoroughly inspired for further peptide-related research.

We add to the report that the participants were unanimously very enthusiastic about the venue - a location in a park full of spring flowers - but more importantly also on the quality of the course as such. On a scale of 0 to 5 the participants rated all contributions between 4 and 5, both for contents and the presentations as such.

The EFMC thanks not only all inspiring teachers, but especially also Bart De Spiegeleer from the University of Gent (Belgium) who had put together the scientific program and chaired the course.


The Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector of the Royal Society of Chemistry is pleased to announce the following awards & events:

- Capps Green Zomaya Memorial Award for Medicinal or Computational Chemistry 2018
- RSC-BMCS Hall of Fame and Medal
- 4th RSC/DMDG Symposium on New Perspectives in DMPK
- Artificial Intelligence in Chemistry

Capps Green Zomaya Memorial Award for Medicinal or Computational Chemistry 2018

The Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Capps Green Zomaya Memorial Trust are pleased to announce that the 8th Capps Green Zomaya Award will be shared jointly by James Crawford of Genentech and Richard A Ward of AstraZeneca.

Dr James Crawford receives the Award for his work on drug discovery at both AstraZeneca (UK) and Genentech (USA), and in particular for his contribution to the development of Cathepsin K inhibitors for the treatment of osteoarthritis and of tyrosine kinase inhibitors currently in clinical trials for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and chronic spontaneous urticaria.

Dr Richard A Ward receives the Award for his work at AstraZeneca (UK) on small molecule drug discovery, and in particular for his contribution to the discovery and development of Tagrisso (osimertinib), a new treatment for EGFR T790M-positive non-small cell lung cancer.

The Awards will be presented to the joint winners at the 29th Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry in Eastern England at the Fielder Centre in Hatfield on 26th April 2018 where Dr Crawford will deliver a memorial talk entitled: ‘Discovery of GDC-0853: a highly potent, selective, and non-covalent Btk inhibitor’. Dr Ward will give the 10th Memorial Lecture at next year’s Hatfield symposium.

RSC-BMCS Hall of Fame and Medal

The BMCS is pleased to announce the inauguration of The Hall of Fame and associated medal, to recognize prominent chemists for outstanding, sustained, and significant scientific impact, or contributions to any area of interest to the BMCS, e.g. medicinal chemistry, agriscience, bio-organic chemistry, chemical biology.

To be inducted in to the Hall of Fame, independent nominations should be submitted by e-mail outlining the justification and including the potential inductee’s CV and publication list. The nomination may be further bolstered by additional independent letters of support.  Potential inductees should be resident in the continent of Europe, or have spent a considerable proportion of their career there. There is no requirement to be an RSC or BMCS member. There are no age restrictions, and potential inductees may have an academic or industrial background.

Nominations may be submitted from the beginning of March to the end of September 2018. The outcome will be communicated to nominators and potential inductees by mid-December 2018. Inductees will receive a medal and certificate and will be expected to give a plenary lecture at an appropriate BMCS organized conference.

For further details, see the full list of requirements and terms and conditions on the RSC website below.

Independent nominations should be sent by email to:

Nominations may be submitted from 1st March – 30th September 2018

Twitter: #BMCS_HoF


4th RSC/DMDG Symposium on New Perspectives in DMPK

21st to 22nd May 2018 at the Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, London, UK


Synopsis:    This meeting will provide a forum for the exchange of ideas between principal members of the DMPK research community. Keynote talks from industry leaders will provide global perspectives on how DMPK can bring value to the process on informing drug discovery. The emphasis will be on building dialogue between participants who will range from experienced project/laboratory leaders to early-career researchers.  There will be a balanced mix of oral and poster presentations, interactive Q&A sessions and networking opportunities throughout.

Artificial Intelligence in Chemistry

15th June 2018, Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House, London, UK


Synopsis:  Artificial Intelligence is presently experiencing a renaissance in development of new methods and practical applications to ongoing challenges in Chemistry.  This first one-day symposium will present the current efforts in applying these new methods. We will combine aspects of artificial intelligence and deep machine learning methods to applications in chemistry.


The Sociedad Española de Química Terapéutica is pleased to announce the following events:

- 5th SEQT Young Researchers Symposium
- Sixth SEQT Summer School "Medicinal Chemistry in Drug Discovery: the Pharma Perspective"

5th SEQT Young Researchers Symposium 

June 22, 2018 | Madrid, Spain

Abstract submission and registration is now open!!

The Spanish Society of Medicinal Chemistry (SEQT) has the pleasure to invite you to join the 5th SEQT YOUNG RESEARCHERS SYMPOSIUM 2017. The meeting will take place at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) (Madrid) the 22nd of June 2018. At this event, young scientists (Master and PhD students as well as Postdocs) will have the opportunity to present their work in the form of oral, flash and poster presentations.

Plenary lectures:

  • Roberto Chicharro (Grupo Juste)
  • José Martínez Orgado (Hospital Clínico San Carlos)
  • Michiel Van Gool (Janssen)

Call for abstracts and registration:

  • Deadline for abstract submission: May 21st 2018
  • Deadline for registration: June 1st 2018

Registration fees:

  • Members of SEQT or members of one of the EFMC Adhering Organizations: 25 €
  • Non-members: 35 €

For further information and regular updates, please visit our website

Sixth SEQT Summer School "Medicinal Chemistry in Drug Discovery: the Pharma Perspective"

June 19-21, 2018 | Toledo, Spain

The Sixth SEQT Summer School is organized by the Spanish Society of Medicinal Chemistry (SEQT) and Janssen with the aim of approaching the pharma industry to young researchers, both graduate students and post-doctoral associates working in the chemistry and health sciences related fields. The School will be held at Janssen R&D facilities in Toledo in June 19-21 of 2018. During three days, the participants will have the opportunity to learn about the latest research trends in pharmaceutical drug discovery and development.

In order to facilitate the interaction with the experts, the number of attendees is limited to 25 students, so early registration is highly encouraged. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Registration Deadline: 26th May 2018 

To find out more, check the website


At the spring symposium 'Medicinal Chemistry of Antimicrobials and Antiparasitics' the division Medicinal Chemistry of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society installed a new board.

After two terms of 3 years Chris de Graaf (VU Amsterdam) left the board. He moved from the VU University Amsterdam to the UK to work as Director Computational Chemistry at Heptares Therapeutics. The successor of Chris in the board is Iwan de Esch, who holds a position of professor Drug Design & Synthesis in de Division of Medicinal Chemistry of the VU University Amsterdam. The new treasurer is Bauke Albada, assistant professor in the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry of Wageningen University and Research. He has replaced Frank Dekker (University of Groningen) who will resign in 2019 together with current president Roland Pieters (Utrecht University). Other board members are: Peter Molenveld (Mercachem; Secretary and EFMC Council member), Ingrid Dijkgraaf (Maastricht University), Laura Heitman (Leiden University), Stan van der Beelen (Maastricht University) and Henk Timmerman (advisor).

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




Founded in 2001, GalChimia has become the Spanish leader in synthetic organic chemistry. Our expert, dedicated team of chemists has found a productive outlet for their obsession with chemistry, providing services to clients worldwide.

More info


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

Read more

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

Read more

Find us on social media

EFMC Facebook EFMC Twitter EFMC LinkedIn EFMC Instagram