FAU Research Center New Bioactive Compounds is launched

Image: Uwe Niklas

Unique interdisciplinary collaboration for the development of new bioactive compounds

Research disciplines have to work together closely to develop new bioactive compounds. To make this collaboration even more efficient in the future, FAU has set up a new research center called “New Bioactive Compounds” (FAU NeW). In this center, successful international and interdisciplinary teams of researchers in pharmaceutical science, food chemistry and pharmacology at FAU and from departments at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen combine their research activities in a unique manner.

The entire spectrum of pharmaceutical and medical research is represented at FAU NeW that includes everything from developing and optimizing bioactive compounds and bioanalytics to developing applications and investigations in clinical disease models.

Portrait of Prof. Dr. Monika Pischetsrieder
Prof. Dr. Monika Pischetsrieder (Image: FAU/Gerd Grimm)

Such collaboration between research disciplines also promotes the discovery and development of new mechanisms of action and pharmaceutical treatment concepts.

“This means that FAU NeW is unique in the German research environment. Other locations focus either on selected areas of pharmaceutical research or special aspects such as the safety of pharmaceuticals. In our center, teams of renowned researchers from different departments and faculties at FAU and Universitätsklinikum Erlangen work together on an interdisciplinary level who have many years of experience in developing bioactive compounds,” says Prof. Dr. Monika Pischetsrieder, Henriette Schmidt Burkhardt Chair of Food Chemistry at FAU.

The key areas of research at the new research center include identifying, developing and optimizing bioactive compounds and how they are used.

Docking sites of bioactive compounds to cells

Prof. Peter Gmeiner (Bild: privat)
Prof. Dr. Peter Gmeiner (Image: privat)

One of FAU NeW’s key areas of research is detecting interactions between targets and bioactive compounds, which are important for the development of new drugs. At the Chair of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, highly-specific bioactive compounds are designed and their effects on target proteins are investigated, to develop new bioactive compounds for pain relief, for example. “We want to understand therapeutic effects on the atomic level, so that we can carry out targeted research on the medication of the future,” explains Prof. Dr. Peter Gmeiner, Chair of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Targeted transport systems for new bioactive compounds

However, several of these bioactive compounds have low solubility, insufficient stability and thus low availability in the body or cannot pass the body’s barriers. The development of innovative formulations that simplify drug administration means that bioactive compounds can be guided specifically to where they are needed at precisely the right time and at precisely the correct dosage.

Pharmaceutical technology and biology close this gap with transport systems made of polymers, lipids, and biogenic materials derived from natural materials using sustainable concepts that can be applied in drug manufacturing.

Food components are also bioactive compounds

Portrait Dagmar Fischer
Prof. Dr. Dagmar Fischer, Chair
of Pharmaceutical Technology at FAU. (Image: FAU/Georg Pöhlein)

In addition to pharmaceutical substances, food components are also important bioactive compounds that interact with target proteins in the body and thus create a wide range of effects that are beneficial to health. At FAU NeW, the molecular fingerprints of foods are being researched in order to discover new mechanisms relating to how they affect physiological processes.

“FAU NeW is thus not only making an important contribution to fundamental research, but is also increasing its appeal as a partner to industry,” emphasizes Prof. Dr. Dagmar Fischer, Chair of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy.

This collaboration allows FAU to generate a critical mass for successful and internationally visible research at the University in this interdisciplinary and pioneering field.

The following chairs are currently involved in FAU NeW: Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Clinical Pharmacology and Clinical Toxicology, Aroma and Smell Research, and Nuclear Medicine as well as the Professorship of Bioinformatics and the pharmacy at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen.

Students and young researchers also benefit: The close collaboration and coordination with interdisciplinary teaching provides students and doctoral candidates an education that has a holistic approach to modern drug development and this gives them a competitive advantage for future employment in industry and research.

The establishment of core facilities for mass spectrometry/formulation will provide FAU NeW with a wide range of links to many areas of the life sciences. This will also support clinical projects in particular, ensuring that scientific findings also reach patients.

Further information

Professor Monika Pischetsrieder

Henriette Schmidt Burkardt Chair of Food Chemistry


Prof. Dr. Dagmar Fischer

Chair of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy