The European Federation of Medical Chemistry (EFMC) has awarded Anna Hirsch with the Young Medicinal Chemist in Academia runner-up Prize 2019. The prizes were conferred on occasion of the VIII EFMC International Symposium on Advances in Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC-ASMC’19), held in Athens, Greece. Anna Hirsch heads the department "Drug Design and Optimization" at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), a branch of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig in cooperation with the University of Saarland. Last year, the Young Medicinal Chemist in Academia Prize of the EFMC was awarded to the HIPS researcher Alexander Titz.
Anna Hirsch’s research is focused on the development of new structural classes of antibiotics that are effective against gram-negative or gram-positive bacteria and have a novel mode of action. This is urgently required because antibiotic resistance is spreading among disease-causing bacteria. Together with her team, she uses structural information on the target protein to design lead structures for new drugs. The scientists apply innovative methods such as dynamic combinatorial chemistry, in which the active ingredients are assembled in the reaction flask from individually prepared building blocks. This approach enables the optimisation of the molecules and accelerates the drug development process.
Anna Hirsch received her doctorate from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich in 2008. After a postdoctoral stay in Strasbourg (France), Anna Hirsch was appointed Assistant Professor in 2010 and Associate Professor for Structure-Based Drug Development at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) in 2015. Since 2017, she has headed the department "Drug Design and Optimization" at the HIPS. In 2018, the European Research Council (ERC) funded her research with a renowned ERC Starting Grant.