Name: Claudio Zambaldo
Current position: Scientist
Place: F. Hoffmann La-Roche, Basel
Field of work/Research topic: Small molecule lead generation and finding, discovery Chemistry for DNA-encoded chemical libraries.
What was your position and research topic with the NCCR Chemical Biology?
I was carrying out my PhD in Nicolas Winssinger’s group, the topic was on design and synthesis of chemical libraries encoded by non-natural nucleic acids (PNA). Specifically, on the design and synthesis of PNA-encoded chemical libraries functionalized with mild electrophiles for covalent target trapping.
What did you find unique about your collaboration with the NCCR Chemical Biology?
Collaborate on multidisciplinary projects that required a large breadth of expertise.
What are the skills/expertise acquired with the NCCR Chemical Biology that are useful to you today?
Sharing data in a clear and concise manner when collaborating cross-disciplinarily.
How did you move from academia to industry? Do you have some specific tips for a smooth transition?
I moved to the industry, via the connections I made during my time in academia, thanks to the papers I have published and with the help of my PhD advisor. Additionally, it is important that your academic work is somehow of interest, or broadly applicable, to the industry you want to work for. My tip is: get to know the work culture of the industry you are/will be working for, this will allow a smoother transition. Having exposed myself to multiple laboratory cultures, projects and collaborators was helpful!
Can you describe your current work and professional environment?
Currently, I work on the synthesis of DNA-encoded chemical libraries and high-throughput building blocks synthesis. I usually set up some experiments in the morning, read literature and sit at some meetings. It is very important to reach out to other scientists to discuss library design and building blocks in order to focus energy and resources in the right direction. Early drug discovery is cross-disciplinary by definition, in my specific case, I interact with biochemists, biophysicists, data scientists and medicinal chemists. I have a high level of independence, I am quite free to explore new ideas.
What do you like the most in your current position?
Working towards a specific and important goal, using a good amount of creativity at the same time.
Do you have any advice to give to current NCCR members who are interested in your professional career?
Be passionate about what you do and use science as a vehicle to express yourself, whenever possible. Have a good amount of respect for your work and for yourself. Try to enjoy the process!
Claudio Zambaldo received his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, under the guidance of Prof. Nicolas Winssinger working on the total synthesis of natural products and PNA-encoded chemical libraries, with a specific focus on covalent irreversible kinase and ATPase inhibitors. He then moved to Prof. Peter G. Schultz’s group at the Scripps research Institute in La Jolla, California, for postdoctoral studies. There he received training in Molecular and Chemical Biology, working on protein engineering, enzyme evolution, target identification techniques and set up a collaborative project that led to the development of cysteine-reactive chemical proteomics probes based on SnAr reactivity. In July 2018 he left academia and started as a Scientist for F. Hoffmann La-Roche, Switzerland. His work is focused on the development of chemical libraries tagged with DNA for lead discovery purposes.