PhD Award

PhD Award of the GDCh Division of Medicinal Chemistry

Since 2013, the Division of Medicinal Chemistry of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) has awarded up to three prizes each year for outstanding doctoral theses in the fields of medical and pharmaceutical chemistry. Each prize comes with an award certificate, prize money of 750 euros donated by the Division , two years' free membership in the Division , and a short presentation on the award-winning work at the section's annual conference "Frontiers in Medicinal Chemistry".

Current call for proposals: PhD Award in Medical/Pharmaceutical Chemistry 2025

Deadline: October 31, 2024

The Division of Medicinal Chemistry of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) usually awards up to three prizes each year for outstanding doctoral theses in the fields of medical and pharmaceutical chemistry.

The price
The award is accompanied by a certificate, prize money of 750 euros donated by the Division , and two years of free membership in the Division. The prizes will be awarded at the specialist group's annual conference "Frontiers in Medicinal Chemistry", which will take place in Erlangen from April 1 to 4, 2025. The awardee will be invited to present their award-winning work in a short lecture during the Conference . The costs of attending the conference will be borne by the Division. The award will be decided by a panel of experts appointed by the Division Board .

Nominations can be made by the academic supervisor, but applications are also possible. The dissertation must have been completed between October 2023 and September 2024. The informal application, which should contain a brief justification for the proposal (max. 1 page), must include the contact details of the person to be nominated (including email address), their CV, list of publications and the dissertation itself.

Please send your suggestions by email and summarized in a PDF file to the GDCh Office for the attention of Maike Fries. Dr. Marta Pinto, Dr. Silvia Arifi,
Dr. Gerhard Heßler (Fachgruppenvorsitz) Dr. Gerhard Heßler,
Dr. Carsten Peukert, Dr. Marta Pinto Dr. Gerhard Heßler,
Dr. Raphael Steimbach,
Dr. Marta Pinto
Fotos: Dr. Jörg Pabel, München

PhD Award in Medical/Pharmaceutical Chemistry 2024

The 2024 PhD Award was awarded on March 19, 2024, at the Divisions conference "Frontiers in Medicinal Chemistry 2024" in Munich to Dr. Silvia Arifi, Dr. Carsten Peukert and Dr. Raphael Steimbach   awarded.

Dr. Silvia Arifi: in recognition of her dissertation entitled Development of chemical tools for nuclear receptors. "Dr. Arifi developed innovative ligands for the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) and the orphan receptors Nur77 and NOR-1. In her work, she was able to identify new ligands for the little-researched nuclear receptors Nur77 and NOR-1 using a fragment-based approach. The discovery of allosteric modulators for PPARγ was successfully used to demonstrate new pharmacological effects compared to established PPARγ ligands."

Dr. Carsten Peukert: in recognition of his dissertation entitled Using iron to catch a ride - synthetic siderophores as molecular 'Trojan Horses' to visualize and treat MDR bacterial pathogens. "Dr. Peukert made significant contributions to the diagnosis and control of bacterial infections. As part of his doctorate, he worked on the inadequate transport of active substances in Gram-negative pathogens, which is considered a key problem of intrinsic antibiotic resistance. He designed highly sensitive probes to detect these pathogens and translated the principle into a PET probe, which is now being further developed for use in humans."

Dr. Raphael Steimbach: in recognition of his dissertation entitled Selective Inhibitors and Targeted Degraders of Histone Deacetylase 10. "Dr. Steimbach's dissertation demonstrates the design, synthesis and characterization of the first class of highly selective inhibitors of histone deacetylase 10. Dr. Steimbach identified a selective chemical probe that was able to validate for the first time the putative cellular function of HDAC10 as a polyamine deacetylase, and he discovered the first compounds that led to targeted degradation of HDAC in cells. His results devalidated the role of HDAC10 in the treatment of neuroblastoma and opened the way for potential new therapeutic applications of HDAC10 inhibitors."

PhD Award in Medical/Pharmaceutical Chemistry 2023

Dr. Gerhard Heßler
(Vorsitzender; li),
Dr. Alaa Alhayek (re)
Dr. Li Gao

The 2023 PhD Award was awarded to Dr. Alaa Alhayek and Dr. Li Gao on April 3, 2023, at the FiMC 2023 in Vienna   awarded.

Dr. Alhayek: in recognition of her dissertation entitled Exploring bacterial metalloproteases as promising drug targets. "Dr. Alhayek characterized the biological effect of new, selective and chemically stable inhibitors of bacterial metalloprotease virulence factors in cellular in vitro assays, in ex vivo and in vivo infection models. Her work also led to the discovery of new inhibitors of bacterial virulence factors. In her work, Dr. Alhayek was able to successfully shed light on the role of such inhibitors in the infection process and thus demonstrate the potential of inhibiting bacterial virulence factors for the future treatment of bacterial infections."

Dr. Gao: in recognition of his dissertation entitled Use of styrylbenzothiazole photoswitches in drugs for spatiotemporal control over microtubule-dependent biology. "Dr. Gao developed and synthesized in vivo active and light-switchable substances based on so-called "styryl[benzo]thiazole photoswitches" (S[B]Ts), which allow the precise control of biological effects on the cytoskeleton. Dr. Gao demonstrated the improvement of molecular properties through photochemical and metabolic resilience tests up to complex biological applications in the living organism. The biomolecules described in this work are the first light-switchable substances that are compatible with fluorescence protein imaging and can therefore be used for highly precise studies of biological systems."

PhD Award in Medicinal/Pharmaceutical Chemistry 2022

Dr. Verena Kunig
Dr. Johannes Morstein
Dr. Patrick Zanon

The PhD Award was presented to Dr. on March 14, 2022 on the occasion of the Online FiMC 2022. Verena Kunig, Dr. Johannes Morstein and Dr. Patrick Zanon awarded.

Dr. Kunig: in recognition of her dissertation entitled DNA-encoded substance libraries: chemical stabilization of DNA, development of new synthesis methods and identification of TEAD-YAP inhibitors. "In her work, Dr. Kunig succeeds in significantly expanding the methodological arsenal for DNA-encoded molecular libraries. The synthetic methods developed based on multicomponent reactions significantly expand the possibilities for library design. In addition, the contributions to the development of chemically stabilized libraries are made possible Coding strategies application for a wide variety of synthesis methods. By discovering new TEAD-YAP inhibitors, the work also underlines the potential of DNA-encoded molecule libraries in drug discovery. The dissertation was carried out in the working group of Prof. Dr. Andreas Brunschweiger at the Technical University of Dortmund."

Dr. Morstein: in appreciation of his dissertation entitled "Optical Control of Lipid Signaling. " Dr. Morstein successfully introduces light-switchable functional groups into lipids that are involved in various signaling processes, thereby enabling completely new possibilities for controlling certain signaling pathways with light. The potential of these new tools was used directly to study signaling processes in the outstanding work. The work therefore contributes significantly to expanding the possibilities for the targeted control of biological functions using chemical tools. The dissertation was carried out in the working group of Prof. Dr. Dirk Trauner graduated from New York University."

Dr. Zanon: in appreciation of his dissertation entitled Development of methods and covalent ligands for the chemoproteomic exploration of the ligandability of bacterial proteomes. "In this outstanding work, selective chemical probes are developed to investigate the addressability of nine different amino acids and used to characterize their reactivity towards electrophiles in the bacterial proteome. This work thus illustrates the potential of new chemical methods in drug discovery and opens up new possibilities for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant infectious diseases. The dissertation was carried out in the working group of Prof. Dr. Stephan Hacker at the Technical University of Munich."

PhD Award in Medicinal/Pharmaceutical Chemistry 2021

Dr. Edith Bartole
Dr. Benedikt Heinrich
Dr. Dasha Nelidova

The doctoral awards were presented on the occasion of the Online“FiMC 2021” to Dr. Edith Bartole, Dr. Benedict Heinrich and Dr. Awarded to Dasha Nelidova.

Dr. Bartole: in appreciation of her dissertation entitled Design, Synthesis and Characterization of Molecular Tools for the Histamine H3 and H4 Receptors – In Particular Radio- and Fluorescent Ligands. "Dr. Bartole managed to develop and apply two complementary tools for the study of histamine H4 receptors. Their fluorescent ligand and their high-affinity radioligand enable the localization of the hH4 receptor in living cells and, for the first time, comparative binding studies on h/m/rH4 Receptors and NanoLuc-labeled receptors (h/mH4R and hH3R). With her results and her tools, Dr. Bartole has significantly enriched the research field of H4 receptors. The dissertation was carried out in the working group of Prof. Dr. Armin Buschauer at the university Regensburg and continued to be looked after by Prof. Dr. Günther Bernhardt after his death."

Dr. Heinrich: in recognition of his dissertation entitled Chemical Biology Applications of Photoresponsive DNA-Binding Agents. "The outstanding work describes chemical alternatives to the well-known Green-Fluorescent Protein (GFP), which, with the new 6 TramTO 3 molecule, make it possible, among other things, to observe living multi-resistant bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae. This work illustrates the innovative power of new chemical methods and tools in the border area of ​​medical chemistry and chemical biology and their direct applicability for a better understanding of infectious diseases. The dissertation was carried out in the working group of Jun.-Prof. Dr. Olalla Vázquez at the Philipps University of Marburg."

Dr. Nelidova: in appreciation of her dissertation entitled Restoring light sensitivity using tunable near-infrared sensors. "The work combines nanotechnology and genetic engineering in an innovative approach. By conjugating gold nanoparticles to antibodies that bind to the TRP channel, light from the NIR range can be converted into signals from the TRP channel. These signals enable mice to to perceive corresponding light signals. The work thus opens up a possible path to new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of macular degeneration. The dissertation was carried out in the working group of Prof. Dr. Botond Roska at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research and at the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology in Basel carried out."

PhD Award in Medical/Pharmaceutical Chemistry 2020

Dr. Charlotte Steiniger
Dr. Bent Alexander Praefke

The 2020 doctoral awards went to Dr. Charlotte Steiniger   and Dr. Bent Alexander Praefke for your outstanding dissertations.

Dr. Charlotte Steiniger in appreciation of her dissertation entitled Studies on the Mechanism and the Reprogramming of Fungal Iterative Cyclodepsipeptide Synthetases.   "In her work, Dr. Steiniger modified fungal, non-ribosomal peptide synthetases. This enabled her to make novel bioactive cyclodepsipeptide derivatives accessible, which, among other things, have been shown to have a high antiparasitic effect. This enabled her to enter bioengineering in the research area of ​​fungal systems and the design of new peptides with pharmacological potential. Their results provided concrete evidence for active and application-oriented reprogramming of iterative as well as linear synthetases for future manipulation approaches. The dissertation was carried out in the working group of Prof. Dr. Roderich D. Süssmuth at the Technical University of Berlin ."

Dr. Bent Alexander Praefke in recognition of his dissertation entitled Design and synthesis of novel inhibitors of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 4 (MKK4). "Starting with vemurafenib as a starting point, Dr. Praefke succeeded in obtaining highly potent inhibitors of MKK4 using multi-parameter optimization. In addition to their potency, the innovative compounds are characterized by outstanding selectivity towards crucial anti-targets. Another focus of his work is the optimization of the synthetic access to the target structures, which allowed him to make target compounds available for in-vivo experiments in high purity and in sufficient quantities in a timely manner. The dissertation was carried out in the working group of Prof. Dr. Stefan Laufer at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen ."

PhD Award in Medical/Pharmaceutical Chemistry 2019

Dr. Franz von Nussbaum, Dr. Natascha
Stergiou und Dr. Elena De Vita
(v.l.n.r.; Foto: Dr. Ludwig Höllein,
Universität Würzburg)

The doctoral awards were presented at FiMC 2019 to Dr. Elena De Vita, Dr. Natascha Stergiou and Dr. Robert Heinze for your outstanding dissertations.

Dr. Elena De Vita synthesized and characterized selective and potent KLK6 inhibitors and KLK6 activity probes in her dissertation Small molecule KLK6 inhibitors . Their “tool compounds” enable the physiological and patho-physiological validation of KLK6 as a potential drug target.

Dr. Natasha Stergiou In her dissertation " Use of tumor-associated mucin 1 (MUC1) to generate anti-tumor vaccines and monoclonal antibody derivatives as a basis for therapy and diagnosis of breast cancer " succeeded in selecting suitable synthetic glycopeptide MUC1-TTox vaccines showed greatly delayed tumor growth in the preclinical breast tumor model and led to a significant extension of lifespan in vaccinated animals. This means that crucial prerequisites for the clinical and immunotherapeutic testing of this vaccine have been achieved.

Dr. Robert Heinze In his dissertation " Scaffold Manipulations for the Synthesis of Seco- and abeo-Steroids " describes new ways to synthesize abeo-steroids and was able to synthesize a promising lead structure in Alzheimer's therapy with Stophasterol A. With a new approach to 9,11-secosteroids, efficient syntheses of the three natural substances ganoderin A, leptosterol A and pinnisterol D can also be achieved.

PhD Award in Medical/Pharmaceutical Chemistry 2013ff

2024 Dr. Silvia Arifi, Munich
Dr. Carsten Peukert, Hanover
Dr. Raphael Steimbach, Heidelberg
2023 Dr. Alaa Alhayek, Saarbrücken
Dr. Li Gao, Munich
2022 Dr. Verena Kunig, Dortmund
Dr. Johannes Morstein, New York
Dr. Patrick Zanon, Munich
2021 Dr. Edith Bartole, Regensburg
Dr. Benedikt Heinrich, Marburg
Dr. Dasha Nelidova, Basel
2020 Dr. Bent Alexander Praefke, Tübingen
Dr. Charlotte Steiniger, Berlin
2019 Dr. Elena De Vita, Heidelberg
Dr. Natascha Stergiou, Mainz
Dr. Robert Heinze, Berlin

Dr. Stefan Krimmer, New Haven, USA
Dr. Lucas Robke, Dortmund
Dr. Robert Wodtke, Dresden


Dr. Norbert Furtmann, Bonn
Dr. Patrick Mäder, Marburg
Dr. Roman Sommer, Saarbrücken


Dr. Matthias Gehringer, Zurich
Dr. Christine Katharina Maurer, Saarbrücken
Dr. rer. nat. Alexander Metz, Marburg

2015 Dr. Christoph Nitsche, Heidelberg
Dr. Johannes Schiebel, Marburg
Dr. Dominik Tobias Thimm, Bonn
2014 Dr. Florian Rechenmacher, Munich
Dr. Miriam Sindelar, Munich
Dr. Matthias Wirth, Lausanne
2013 Dr. Tobias Klein, Saarbrücken
Dr. Hannes Schleifer, Graz

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last modified: 08.07.2024 09:29 H from N/A