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

Please find a few introductory words by Yves Auberson, the DMCCB Past President and EFMC President, endorsed by the members of the DMCCB Board:

“This call comes at a very unusual time, in the middle of a fight against a virus that has already killed thousands of patients, and will affect thousands more. While we already heard so much about the current COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

Countries around the world are now struggling to contain the disease, with policies and mindsets that must evolve rapidly. Many government officials and members of the population do not have the strong scientific background that you have. In this sense, your influence as role models is critical. Please reinforce the messages around hygiene, social distancing and safe behaviors that alone, for now, can dent the progression of the disease. There is a lot you can do, talking to your friends, colleagues or media to fight obscurantism, fear and disinformation by spreading the right messages. As a learned society, we must set an example and encourage the world to listen to the scientists. It is our most powerful weapon; use it generously.

The current circumstances are a stark reminder of the importance of our mission: discovering new biologically active molecules to provide tools for a better understanding of cellular biology, and novel drugs to address unmet medical needs. We must take advantage of these exceptional circumstances to learn and educate.

Those of you working in the Agrochemical sector have also a crucial role to play in these times because the world needs agriculture to survive. Supporting farmers with crop protection solutions has never been more critical to ensure farmers provide enough food for everyone in the world despite the coronavirus.

Like so many of you, I have been reading the scientific literature around COVID-19. From a scientific angle, it is exciting; see for instance the structure of the COVID-19 spike protein, the clinical description of the disease, its epidemiology and statistics. On the other hand, from a human point-of-view, it is frightening. Let us make sure we help sharing the right messages and protect everyone.

I am looking forward to meet you at one of our future events, when the crisis is over.
Until then, please stay safe.

Structure of SARS Coronavirus Spike Receptor-Binding Domain Complexed with Receptor

Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. Wei-jie Guan et al. for the China Medical Treatment Expert Group for Covid-19.

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Statistics and Research

All information provided in the newsletter is based on the current status. Some of it is subject to changes depending on the development of the global situation.

News from the DMCCB Change in the DMCCB Presidency

The beginning of 2020 saw an important change in the leadership of the DMCCB. After six intense years, Yves Auberson handed over the presidency of the DMCCB to Prof. Jean-Louis Reymond (University of Bern) who was acting as the DMCCB vice-president. In turn, Dr. Fides Benfatti (Syngenta) took over the vice-presidency of the Division. You can find their short biosketches below. Yves Auberson will still be involved in the DMCCB activities as past president for the next two years. The rest of the DMCCB board remained unchanged. You can find the members and contact information on the DMCCB website. 

Jean-Louis Reymond is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He studied Chemistry and Biochemistry at the ETH Zürich and obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Lausanne on natural products synthesis (1989). After a Post-Doc and Assistant Professorship at the Scripps Research Institute, he joined the University of Bern (1997). His research focuses on the enumeration and visualization of chemical space for small molecule drug discovery, the synthesis of new molecules from GDB (, and the design and synthesis of peptide dendrimers and polycyclic peptides as antimicrobials and for nucleic acids delivery. He is the author of > 300 scientific publications and reviews. He is a member of the DMCCB Board since 2014.

Fides Benfatti studied Chemistry at the University of Bologna in Italy, where she obtained her Master degree in 2004. The same year, she started in Bologna her PhD in the field of Medicinal Chemistry, focusing on the design and synthesis non-peptidic integrin ligands. After obtaining her PhD in 2008, Fides approached the field of asymmetric catalysis, under the supervision of Professor P.G. Cozzi. In 2010, she moved to EPFL Lausanne as a recipient of a Marie Curie fellowship, joining the group of Professor J. Waser. During two years, Fides studied the development of new catalytic methods for the synthesis of heterocycles. In 2012, she joined Syngenta Crop Protection in Switzerland as Team Leader in Research Chemistry, working in the Insect and Disease Control indications. Since 2016, Fides is Head of Lead Generation for Insect Control. She is a member of the DMCCB board since 2017.

Report on the Second Anglo-Swiss Symposium (February 4, 2020, Basel)

The 2nd Anglo-Swiss Symposium took place on February 4th. Close to 120 participants from both industry and academia met at the Pharmacenter in Basel for a one-day meeting on “Using Chemical Biology to Identify new Targets for Medicinal Chemistry”, a topic chosen by members of both organizing societies (BMCS and DMCCB).  The speakers covered a wide range of topics from DNA-encoded libraries over CRISPR/Cas and antibody-drug conjugates to the identification of novel targets for various indications (bacterial infections, heart failure). A poster session with ca 30 posters took place during lunch break, and 2 poster prizes were awarded. A detailed conference report is be published in Chimia issue 4/2020.

Activities of the DMCCB

Peptide Therapeutics Forum 2020 – University Hospital, Basel – August 17-18, 2020

Similar to previous events in the framework of Basel Life, presentations will highlight important new insights regarding the discovery of peptide-based drugs, including examples of successful development candidates. This forum should disseminate information on latest news in the broad field of therapeutic peptides. Should the current circumstances prevent the on-site meeting, the event should be held as an online conference. More information can be found on the event website.


14th Swiss Course on Medicinal Chemistry – Leysin – October 4-9, 2020

This five-day course organized by the DMCCB will focus on modern aspects of small molecule drug discovery, hit generation, lead finding and lead optimization campaigns. It is aimed at scientists from industry and academia working in medicinal chemistry and flanking disciplines such as biochemistry, pharmacy, pharmacology, or biophysics. Registration is now open. Places for PhD students are limited and will be attributed on a first come first served basis! Registrations are open. There is currently NO plans to postpone or cancel the event. Shall the Organizing Committee deem it necessary to cancel the event, registered participants will be informed and pre-paid registration fees will be reimbursed.

Upcoming Events and Symposia

RICT 2020 - Interfacing Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery 

In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, the 56th International Conference on Medicinal Chemistry (RICT 2020) is postponed to July 7 - 9, 2021. The symposium will take place at the same location (Palais des Congrès de Bordeaux).


SCS Fall Meeting 2020 – University of Bern – August 24-25, 2020

Did you know that the SCS Fall Meeting is one of the largest annual research conferences held in Switzerland? This year’s major Swiss chemistry event will take place at University of Bern and be held on 2 days. Close to 1000 participants are expected. As every year, the DMCCB will chair a session featuring young and experienced researchers from industry and academia, featuring their work in medicinal chemistry or chemical biology. Do not miss a chance to showcase your work. Deadline for abstract submission is May 24, 2020. The meeting is planned to take place in any case. In case governmental restrictions prevent on site gathering, online sessions and life streams will be organized for most of the program items. 

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

EFMC-ISMC 2020: the XXVI EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistr

Due to the extraordinary circumstances resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the symposium had to be postponed by one year. The symposium will take place at the same location (Congress Center Basel) from August 29 to September 2, 2021.


Did you know...EFMC Best Practice – Validating Chemical ProbesThe EFMC released the first of a series on Best Practices in Medicinal Chemistry. This one is dedicated to “Validating Chemical Probes”. High quality chemical probes are essential to explore human biology and diseases, and as chemists, we have a big role to play to ensure high quality of the published probes. Are you a student willing to learn more about medicinal chemistry or did you just start your career in the field? Are you a professor and looking for teaching material ? Are you an experienced medchem practitioner willing to see what’s new in the field? Then this may be right for you. You can find the material on the EFMC website or as webinars on the EFMC YouTube | | contact 


EFMC-YMCS 2020: the 7th EFMC Young Medicinal Chemist Symposium

Due to the extraordinary circumstances resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the symposium had to be postponed by one year. The symposium will take place at the same location (F. Hoffman-la-Roche site, Basel), right after the EFMC-ISMC on September 2-3, 2021.