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.

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.

Our aim is to enable research groups to:

  • Explore the biology-chemistry interface by complementing excellence in biology with innovative chemistry
  • Identify novel low molecular weight compounds for use as ‘biotools’ to probe biological function
  • Generate added value on in-house targets for basic research and for Intellectual Property

Our key services

  • Application of high-throughput screening approaches to identify biotools or hit compounds
  • Computational screening using ligand-based and structure-based design strategies
  • Medicinal chemistry optimisation of hits to generate high-quality tool compounds
Major achievements and accomplishments
2004Facility established in 2004 as a collaboration between EMBL and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).
2006Spin-off of Elara Pharmaceuticals GmbH out of the facility to develop dual inhibitors targeting tumors.
2009Computational chemistry established. Spin-off of Savira GmbH to develop and commercialise screening derived hits targeting influenza virus.
2013Upgrade of the P3 Evolution pipetting system to an automation platform linking the  Janus robot, liquid handler, Cytomat cell incubator and Envision reader
2014Medicinal Chemistry lab opened
2015Execution of 1536 HTS screen with patient derived cells on automation platform

Steering Committee

The overall direction of the facility is overseen by a steering committee which has senior members of staff from the EMBL and DKFZ. The projects are considered on a case-by-case basis, following preliminary evaluation for suitability and amenability to screening. The committee further reviews and assesses technical difficulties and determines priorities for new projects.

Please contact us to submit a project proposal.


Chemical Biology Core Facility
EMBL Heidelberg, Meyerhofstraße 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

Phone: +49 6221 387-8303
Fax: +49 6221 387-8306
Email: General enquiries

Technology partners

  • Agilent, Certara
  • GE
  • IDBS
  • Perkin Elmer
  • ThermoFisher

Chemistry partners

  • ChemDiv
  • Chembridge
  • Enamine
  • Sigma-Aldrich