August 2016, Newsletter 2

Content of this newsletter

  • BIGCHEM first Autumn School
  • Associated partners
  • Recruitment of the ESRs
  • Conferences
  • Publications

BIGCHEM first Autumn School

BIGCHEM first Winter School "Introduction to Chemoinformatics" will be held from 17 to 21 of October in Helmholtz Zentrum München (Munich, Germany). The program will be available soon at the BIGCHEM website.

Associated Partners

In our first Newsletter BIGCHEM Beneficiaries were presented, now we would like to present our 8 Associated Partners which play an important role in BIGCHEM Consortium providing secondments for the fellows and their complementary expertise in different aspect of large chemical data. 

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is one of the leading universities in world, within the Top 100 worldwide and the top university in Germany. The Chair of Biomolecular NMR Spectroscopy, headed by Prof. Michael Sattler, is member of the Bavarian NMR Center and combines NMR with integrated structural biology and structure-based drug discovery to understand molecular mechanisms of cellular and disease-linked pathways.
MedChemica runs the SALT consortium (Statisitical Analysis of Large pharm Testsets). Matched Molecular Pair Analysis (MMPA) is run against research data from multiple pharmaceuticals (in excess of 1 million data points) and the output combined to produce a massive database of design rules for Drug Discovery. The consortium is in its third year with the database in active use supporting drug discovery projects and is available for use by BioTechs, Universities and Foundations via the online SaltTraxTM portal.
Chemotargets is a small biotech company located in Barcelona. It was founded in 2006 by Dr. Jordi Mestres as a spin-off company of the IMIM Hospital del Mar Institute of Medical Research. The company is the developer of the current state-of-the-art software for predictive pharmacology and safety of small molecules, CT-link. The new release includes a platform-independent Graphical User Interface to navigate across pharmacology and safety data in a highly interactive and integrative manner. Its current headquarters are located in the Scientific Park of Barcelona.
NextMove Software develops and markets scientific informatics software solutions for the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. The company was founded in 2011 and is located on the Cambridge Science Park in the United Kingdom. Its unique products complement other vendors' offerings, covering areas such as: ELN and reaction informatics; patent (chemical) text mining; peptide, oligosaccharide and biologics informatics; 2D chemical similarity; matched molecular series and ELN chemical hazard alerting.
Molecular Networks offers innovative chemoinformatics software products, consulting, development and research services to increase the quality and productivity of discoveries in chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnological and consumer care products R&D programs. Founded in 1997, the product portfolio of MN-AM comprises a variety of software tools, databases and decision support systems in the area of in silico modelling and prediction of chemical, physical, biological and toxicological properties of chemicals including their reactivity and metabolic or environmental fate to support the risk assessment process.
Enamine Ltd was founded in 1991 with the advent of high throughput screening in early drug discovery. After 25 years of stable growth Enamine has become a world leading provider of Screening Compounds and Building Blocks. It also offers integrated services of custom synthesis, lead optimization and molecular modeling. In Enamine, we pay great attention to the development of original and unique chemistry. We believe that diverse techniques and methodologies are the main contributors to drug discovery process.

IME ScreeningPort’s mission  is to bridge the gap between basic academic research and the life sciences industry in the field of drug discovery and development.  With state-of-the-art infrastructure at its location in Hamburg, established processes and innovative technologies, IME-SP positioned itself as a world-leading contract research organization for small-molecule screening, particularly for targets identified by academic partners.

The IME SP directs its efforts onto the development of biological assay systems, high-throughput drug discovery (i.e. high-throughput screening, high-content screening and virtual screening), and the identification of diagnostic biomarkers (including those used for companion diagnostics in preclinical/clinical studies and pharmacological bioinformatics).

Founded in 1946, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands. It is located at Amsterdam Science Park and is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The institute is internationally focused and renowned. Over 150 researchers conduct pioneering research and share their acquired knowledge with society. Over 30 researchers are also employed as professors at universities. The instute has fourteen research groups in various fields of mathematics and computer science and has generated twenty-three spin-off companies.

Recruitment of the ESRs

The recruitment and selection of candidates was carried out with the participation of all beneficiaries (central recruitment through following the recommendations of the Research Executive Agency “Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers”. The recruitment website was enabled since February and the positions were open for applications until the 20th of March. The ESR positions were also announced internationally in the most relevant job searching portal for scientists. The applicants were suggested to submit up to two-three applications for the positions. This advice was followed and the average number of job applications was 2.7 per applicant. Until the deadline, 277 applicants registered in the recruitment website. They sent a total of 749 applications. The distribution of applications for different positions is indicated below.

We received applications from 54 different countries, which shows that the announcement of the positions reached people all around the world. The largest number of applicants (129) were from Asia, while 104 were from Europa, 33 from  Africa and rest from America.

Majority of the applicants (63%) were between 25 and 30 years old (see Figure below). This is not surprising for applicants to doctoral positions and considering that, in order to be eligible for an ESR position, applicants should be in the first four years of their research careers. Some candidates were not eligible since they, e.g., already had a PhD. Concerning the gender, 24% of applicants were female and 76% were male candidates.

The applications were screened by both academic and industrial partners. All applications were reviewed considering scientific background, computational skills, mobility experience, etc. After the first round of interviews, which were done by SKYPE or in person, 22 candidates were invited to the BIGCHEM recruitment meeting. The meeting took place on the 4th of April at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

After the recruitment meeting, some additional interviews were done by the PIs who could not attend the meeting, and by mid-April nine candidates were selected and appointed by BIGCHEM General Assembly. For one position shared by ETH Zürich and  Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH & Co KG no suitable candidate was selected. This position was re-opened until June and a fellow has already been selected as well.

The ten fellows will start working on the project from September and October of 2016. We are looking forward to having them on board!

Meet BIGCHEM partners at:


  • Tetko I, Engkvist O, Koch U, Reymond JL, Chen H. BIGCHEM: Challenges and Opportunities for Big Data Analysis in Chemistry. Molecular Informatics, 2016, DOI: 10.1002/minf.201600073 (open access).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 676434. 

Disclaimer: the newsletter reflects only the authors’ view and neither the European Commission nor the Research Executive Agency are responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.