Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Uppsala University

Head of Department, Medicinal Chemistry, Uppsala University
Full Professor, Computer Aided Drug Design, Uppsala University

Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Uppsala University
Box 574
751 23 Uppsala

+46 70 167 9177



Background and expertise of the representative

Anders Karlén specializes in the field of computational medicinal chemistry and focuses on hit identification and lead development in drug discovery. His group works closely with synthetic medicinal chemists on targets of importance in infectious diseases with a focus on Tuberculosis, Malaria and Gram-negative infections. Several of these projects have been run within EU framework 6 and 7 programs (NM4TB and MM4TB). He is presently the overall medicinal chemistry project leader for drug discovery efforts currently directed at five different anti-bacterial targets. He is also leading the antibacterial drug discovery group at Uppsala University an initiative involving medicinal chemistry, microbiology and biochemistry. He has published more than 100 publications in international refereed journals with a current h-index of 31.

Since February 2014 he is the Leader of the Managing Entity and co-coordinator of the €85 million, 6-year, Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) project ENABLE (European Gram Negative Antibacterial Engine). In ENABLE over 45 European partners from academia and industry, co-led by GlaxoSmithKline and Uppsala University, have joined forces in a 6-year project with the ultimate aim of progressing at least one novel mechanism development candidate into pre-clinical and Phase 1 clinical studies for the treatment of systemic Gram-negative infections.

Anders Karlén is a member of the steering group of Uppsala Antibiotic Center (http://www.uac.uu.se/). This center for research, education and innovation was started in 2015, with the aim to bring together, stimulate and support important research on antibiotic resistance from all three disciplinary domains at Uppsala University. It presently supports 14 PhD students and three associate senior lecturer positions.

Organisation profile

The ultimate goal of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry is to develop chemistry and methodologies for early drug discovery and development. Major current research profiles bridge fundamental sciences and applications of pharmaceutical chemistry and include i) fundamental research in order to develop advanced analytical methods for drug- and bioanalysis and metabolomics, ii) development of probes and methods for radionuclide-based diagnostic imaging for positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission tomography (SPECT), iii) exploration of natural products and their structure-activity relationships for their drug potential, iv) the development and use of computational and experimental methods for design and synthesis of drug-like compounds. With respect to antibacterial drug discovery we have created RAPID (Rational Approaches to Pathogen Inhibitor Discovery), an integrated center for structural biology and medicinal chemistry. This center was set up in 2003 and brings together medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry, microbiology and structural biology groups at Uppsala University in a multidisciplinary effort with the aim to work on antibacterial drug discovery. Within the department of Medicinal chemistry we are responsible for the design and synthesis of small lead-like compounds that are required for inhibition studies, and for establishing structure-activity relationships (SAR). We are also involved in the hit identification process.

Contribution to the network

Anders Karlén will bring in antibacterial drug discovery expertise based on his participation in the EU framework 6 program “New Medicine for Tuberculosis” (NM4TB, 2006-2010) and framework 7 program “More Medicines for Tuberculosis” (MM4TB, 2011-2015). Scientifically, he has worked closely and received strong support from an extensive collaboration with AstraZeneca, India (AZI). AZI performed validation of many targets, and ran HTS against three of our joint targets. He will also bring in a strong network of antibacterial drug discovery scientists based on his coordination role in the IMI-ENABLE project as well as experience from working on many different antibacterial drug discovery programs.