Chemical Biology Core Facility

Small molecules play essential roles in many areas of basic research and are often used to address important biological questions.

The Chemical Biology Core Facility (CBCF) offers the infrastructure and expertise for assay development, small-molecule screening and use of medicinal chemistry to optimise compounds against novel targets for ‘biotool’ or early drug development.

Services provided

The facility is set up as a collaboration between EMBL and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) to provide the infrastructure and expertise to open up small molecule development to research groups at these institutions.

  • Assay development and high-throughput screening
  • Binding affinity studies for small molecules and antibodies using the Biacore surface plasmon resonance technology (SPR)
  • Computational screening using ligand-based and structure-based design strategies
  • Medicinal chemistry optimisation of hits to generate high quality tool compounds
  • Optimisation of tool compounds towards therapeutic use
  • Managing outsourced chemistry activities
  • Managing compound acquisition through our chemistry partners

High Throughput Screening (HTS) allows a researcher to quickly conduct thousands of tests against a biological target through the use of automation (robotics, liquid handling devices, sensitive detectors), data processing and control software. 

  • Headed by a Medicinal Chemist with 20 years of Big Pharma experience
  • Staffed by experienced postdoctoral Chemists
  • Expertise in small molecule synthesis as well as in peptide, bioconjugate and exotic molecule synthesis
  • Consultation provided on all chemistry questions
  • Training provided to visitors

Computational chemistry methods are integral to the process of active molecule identification and optimisation. These include:

  • Chemoinformatics approaches
  • Molecular modelling
  • Computational screening using ligand-based and structure-based design strategies
  • Managing compound acquisition through our chemistry partners
  • Commercial software available: SYBYL-X including SurflexDock and SurflexSim, LeadIT including FlexX and FlexS, Muse, Spartan
  • Access to the HPC compute cluster at EMBL which provides access to more than 5800 CPUs for scientific computing at EMBL