Dear Members of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry & Chemical Biology,

Here is already the last newsletter of what has been a very intense year for the DMCCB. Among the 2018 highlights of the Division, the DMCCB Basel Symposium in May, the DMCCB session of the SCS Fall Meeting and 13th Swiss Course on Medicinal Chemistry in Leysin, of which you can discover a highlight below.

Beside these events, the Division also fully engages in supporting its youngest fellows and travel grants have been launched to give the opportunity to young researchers to attend scientific conferences.
In 2019, the DMCCB will continue to be involved in many scientific events and create opportunities to make Swiss science visible to the broader community. The team will also fully engage in the organization of the EFMC-ISMC 2020, a major Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology event taking place on September 6-10, 2020 in Basel. Save the date!

We hope that you all had a very inspiring and successful year filled with new encounters and exciting science. We would like to thank you all for your continued support and wish you a very sincere


We are looking forward to meeting you again in 2019.


Report from the 13th Swiss Course on Medicinal Chemistry, Leysin

181208 DMCCB-Newsletter1The 13th edition of the Swiss Course on Medicinal Chemistry, organized on behalf of the Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology (DMCCB) of the Swiss Chemical Society, was held during the second week of October 2018 in the scenic alpine village of Leysin, close to Lake Geneva (Switzerland). As during previous events of this biennially held conference, the organizers assembled a program bridging the basic principles and the most modern aspects of applied medicinal chemistry. A truly international group of approximately 90 young scientists, primarily from industry, had subscribed to that course. Some of the participants came from far away, including from the US, Singapore, Japan, or South Africa. The invited speakers and tutorial supervisors also left an international footprint: They came from Switzerland, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, with an additional nine lecturers from the US.

The organizers, Gerhard Müller (Gotham Therapeutics, New York, US), Kasia Borsuk (Mercachem, Nijmegen, NL), and Beat Ernst (University of Basel, CH) managed to attract 22 renowned experts and opinion leaders from major pharma companies, from small biotechs, as well as from academia. Among them were Karin Briner (Head of Global Discovery Chemistry, Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, US), Andrew Mortlock (Vice President Oncology, AstraZeneca, Cambridge UK), Andy Phillips (CEO C4 Therapeutics, Watertown, US), Tjeerd Barf (Ascerta Pharma, Oss, NL), Adrian Whitty (Boston University, US) and Karl-Heinz Altmann (ETH Zürich, CH), to name only a few.

The topics introduced by the plenary lectures were reinforced by hands-on tutorials. These covered a wide range of medicinal chemistry tactics and technologies applied to lead finding and optimization, which were presented by experts in the field, either from industry (Chun-Wa Chung, GlaxoSmithKline, UK – biophysics; Jonathan Mason, Heptares, UK and Gregg Siegal, ZoBio, NL – fragment-based lead generation), or from academia (Gerhard Klebe, University of Marburg, D; Peter Tonge, Stony Brook University, Long Island, US – thermodynamics and kinetics of drug-target interaction). Emphasis was laid on in-depth discussions of successfully pursued drug discovery projects, across a wide range of therapeutic areas. They were presented by colleagues from e.g. Vertex (Cystis Fibrosis), AstraZeneca (Oncology – Mcl1), Bristol-Myers Squibb (HCV), and Novartis (Oncology – SHP2). Gene family-directed approaches towards kinases, phosphatases, GPCRs and protein-protein interaction targets were presented alongside chemistry-centric strategies highlighting the therapeutic potential of e.g macrocycles or natural products.

Framed by several social events, the organizers provided an attractive informal setting for the attendees with easy access to all speakers and tutorial instructors, thus creating an energizing and stimulating atmosphere, fueling discussions on a broad spectrum of medicinal chemistry-related topics. This ultimately created a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary spirit that carried the event over the entire week. Considering the excellent feedback from attendees and speakers of this year’s event, the medicinal chemistry community can confidently look forward to the next event in 2020.

News from the DMCCB 

180807 Pic1DMCCB Board elections: On the occasion of the SCS Fall Meeting 2018 at the EPFL on September 7, the audience had the opportunity to vote to fill the new position within the DMCCB Board with a member to take responsibility for social media. Dr. Kristina Goncharenko, Business Development Manager at SpiroChem has been elected to this position. Congratulations! Kristina will participate in the development of the communication strategy of the DMCCB, with particular emphasis on social media channels. Welcome to Kristina!

181208 DMCCB-Newsletter3-2SCS Fall Meeting awardees: This year’s major Swiss chemistry event took place at the EPFL on September 7. As usual, the DMCCB chaired a session featuring young and experimented researchers from industry and academia presenting their work in medicinal chemistry or chemical biology. This year, the prizes for best oral presentation and best posters went to: Fabio Steffen (Sigel group, University of Zürich) - best oral presentation; Rémi Martinent (Matile group, University of Geneva) and Rebecca Schäfer (Wennemers group, ETHZ) - best poster presentations; François Halloy (Hall group, ETH Zürich) and Micael Rodrigues Cunha (Reymond group, University of Bern) - runners-up poster prizes. Many thanks to the sponsors Metrohm and DSM Nutritional Products Ltd and congratulations to the awardees. All awardees can be found on the SCS website.

Upcoming events from the DMCCB

181208 DMCCB-Newsletter4-2LS2 annual meeting 2019 – DMCCB Session – Irchel Campus, Zürich – February 14-15, 2019: The 2019 edition LS2 annual meeting will bring together scientists from many nations and diverse backgrounds to explore the large spectrum united under the umbrella of life sciences and more specifically on the topic “Cell Biology from Tissue to Nucleus". This year, the DMCCB will chair a session (Feb. 15, 10:30-12:30) dedicated to “Chemical Biology & Drug Development”. The speakers will be Sabine L. Flitsch, (U. of Manchester), Tom Ward (U. of Basel), Réka Nagy, (Promega AG) plus selected talks from abstracts. The LS2 event will showcase special sessions such as “PI’s of Tomorrow- the Future of Swiss Research” and a Public Science Policy session. The whole program is available online. Deadline for registration: December 20, 2018.

Pic3Frontiers in Medicinal Chemistry 2019 – Würzburg, Germany – March 24-27, 2019: For its 2019 edition, this international symposium will be again jointly organized by the DMCCB, the GDCh and DPhG. After a very successful edition in Bern in 2017, the next joint meeting will take place in Würzburg, Germany. Save the date! More information about the programme in the next newsletters.

Activities & events from the European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC)

181208 DMCCB-Newsletter6-2Call for Nominations - EFMC Prize for Young Medicinal Chemist in Industry and Academia: Every year, the EFMC recognizes outstanding young medicinal chemists (≤ 12 years after PhD) working in industry or academia within Europe. The awardees of the prestigious EFMC Prizes for Young Medicinal Chemists in Industry and academia 2019 will be invited to present at an EFMC Symposium. Deadline for nominations: January 31, 2019. More details.

181208 DMCCB-Newsletter7-2Workshop “Parkinson’s disease: causes and cures”: On November 8, 2018, speakers from the scientific community, alongside Members of the European Parliament, and representatives from the European Commission and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) came together to discuss the way forward in treating Parkinson’s disease, but also the causes for this neurodegenerative disease. The press release of the event, chaired by Member of the European Parliament Pavel Poc, and jointly organised by the European Chemical Society (EuChemS), and the European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC) can be found here.

Pic4-2EFMC-ACSMEDI – Medicinal Chemistry Frontiers 2019 – Krakow, Poland – June 10-13, 2019: The Frontiers in Medicinal Chemistry symposium is co-organized on a biennial basis, as a collaboration between the ACS (American Chemical Society) division of Medicinal Chemistry and the EFMC (European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry). The next edition will take place in Krakow, Poland, with the support of the Polish Society of Medicinal Chemistry.

Pic5-2FMC-ASMC’19 – International Symposium on Advances in Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry – Athens, Greece – September 1-5, 2019: The EFMC, the Hellenic Society of Medicinal Chemistry and ChemBridge Corporation will jointly organize the ASMC’19 in Athens, in the series which started in Moscow in 2004 (ASCMC'04 and ASMC'13), followed by St. Peterburg (ASMC'07 and ASMC'11), Kiev (ASMC'09), Rehovot, Israel (ASMC'15) and the latest one in Vienna (ASMC’17). This symposium aims to bring together chemists from industry, academia and start-up companies from around the world to present latest advances in Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry.


EFMC-ISMC 2020 – XXVI EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry – Basel – September 6-10, 2020: An event no one should miss, the EFMC-ISMC 2020 will be organized in Basel. The preparation has started already and the International Organizing Committee will meet for the first time in December in Basel. If you have something to show, plan to submit an abstract next year, don’t miss the opportunity to share it at this key symposium in the field of Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

Did you know …

There are still DMCCB Travel Grants available! To support the youngest members of our network, the DMCCB awards Travel Grants of up to 800 CHF to PhD students and postdocs wishing to attend conferences or workshops (co-)organized or sponsored by the DMCCB, or organized by the EFMC or DMCCB partner societies (LS2, GDCh). A great chance for young fellows to attend exciting medicinal chemistry or chemical biology events. Spread the word! Eligibility criteria and instructions on how to apply are available on our website.