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From where I stand: Stories from Chemical Biology Master alumni

Chemical Biology Master alumni are doing incredible things all over the world! From proteins and lipids studies to organic chemistry, management and entrepreneurship, our alumni all have taken very different paths with one common goal: making a big impact. A few years after graduating, we have asked some of our former students the following question: where are you now and what have you been doing since you graduated from the Master programme in Chemical Biology? Learn about some of their triumphs and how the Master has benefited  their career!


Katyayanee Neopane (graduated 2018)

Position: PhD student (Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences, affiliation: School of Life Sciences, EPFL), Switzerland

Joining the NCCR Chemical Biology Master programme has been one of the best decisions in my academic career! I learnt amazing science and met incredible people from all over the world. I did my thesis in Oliver Hantschel’s lab at EPFL for a year followed by a 3-months internship in the same lab. I was working on cytosolic delivery of small engineered proteins termed “monobodies” designed to selectively inhibit signaling of oncoproteins. This 1 year-long hands-on laboratory experience motivated me to choose to continue my career in research as a PhD student. Although I am working in a different topic, the skills and knowledge I gained during my time in the NCCR have been very useful and valuable.

Currently, I am pursuing my PhD at Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences, still being affiliated to the doctoral program at EPFL. My work is centered around an important enzyme called AMPK, a metabolic coordinator, and I am applying biochemical and cellular approaches to understand this complicated protein complex. My knowledge on biochemistry, signaling and cell biology that I acquired during my master’s programme easily helped me have a smooth transition. I love my work because it uses high-level science to dissect different aspects of metabolism, nutrition and healthy living.



Janathan Michael Juarez Altuzar (graduated 2017)

Position: PhD student (Höglinger Lab of Lipid Signaling and Lysosomal Biology, Biochemistry Center Heidelberg University), Germany

It’s been already 4 years!!! Time might have past but good memories always last! During my Master studies in Chemical Biology what I enjoyed the most was the multi and interdisciplinary topics. We were students from diverse backgrounds and places around the globe, which made discussions quite exciting and full of fun. Thanks to my last internship at the Howard Riezman’s lab, I discovered the world of bi-functional lipids. I felt very curious and that’s why I decided to move to Germany. The transition at that moment was very smooth, since I had acquired some on-hands experience on lipids.

Currently I’m a PhD student at the Höglinger’s lab at the Biochemistry Center in Heidelberg. Quoting my PI, we are chemists and biologist interested in lipids and lysosomes. The aim of my work is to develop chemical tools to understand lipid metabolism from the lysosome as a starting point. If you find yourself in Germany: Christmas markets and pretzels are a must!



Chloé Rogg (graduated 2018)

Position: PhD student (Aye’s Laboratory of Electrophiles and Genome Operation, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), Switzerland

Four years ago, I was discovering the amazing work done by so many labs at EPFL and UNIGE and choosing which one to join for my Master’s thesis. My plans for the future were not fully clear at the time, and I had an important question in mind: to PhD or not to PhD? The NCCR Chemical Biology, mainly through its great Master’s programme, clearly helped me make that decision. After a really interesting year in the lab of Pierre Gönczy, I obtained my Master’s and got the opportunity to join the lab of Christian Heinis. Moving across the EPFL campus allowed me to work with Vanessa Carle and help her translate her academic research on a novel anticoagulant into an entrepreneurial project.

These experiences convinced me there were still many things I wanted to learn and the best way to do so would be a PhD. That’s how I joined Yimon Aye’s lab (EPFL) almost two years ago (already!). I am currently working on an electrophile-sensing protein to understand how electrophile signaling works on a mechanistical level and I hope to establish a functional link between structural modifications and resulting cellular responses.




Lluc Ferrera Soler (graduated 2017)

Position: PhD student (Winssinger Lab of Organic and Bio-organic Chemistry, University of Geneva), Switzerland

When I joined the NCCR Master programme in Chemical Biology I would have never imagined I would stay 5 years in Geneva and here I am 5 years later. The master was a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to learn many techniques from different disciplines. I did my master thesis in the laboratory of Professor Nicolas Winssinger working on the development of new screening methodologies. I really enjoyed the topic and decided to continue the experience as a PhD student in the same lab and during these last 4 years, it has been an amazing opportunity to learn many different topics from synthesis of probes, peptide synthesis, cells, bacteria, screening,… The experience is now coming to an end and I’m looking forward to see what will come next!



Luosi Zhou (graduated 2017)

Position: Cofounder of Psychological Bulletin (a Chinese independent media) and Cofounder of Scientific Bulletin (an internet-based press releases writers incubator), China

After I had graduated from the Master in Chemical Biology in 2017, I spent 2 years to obtain my second master degree in Management, Technology & Entrepreneurship at EPFL, which gives me a chance to bridge science and business, moved my mindset from laboratory to leadership. Therefore, my two colleagues and I founded a Chinese independent media called Psychological Bulletin in March 2020, which aggregates press releases and publishes lightly edited press releases about science, especially about psychology. Psychological Bulletin fast gained 10k+ followers in 3 weeks, which shows us the blue sea and brings us to create a new start-up in May 2020, named Scientific Bulletin, an Internet-based press releases writers incubator based on big data analysis. Up to now, we have 200+ writers, and keep growing!



Manuel Leonardo Merz (graduated 2018)

Position: PhD student (Heinis Laboratory of Therapeutic Proteins and Peptides, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), Switzerland

A little more than four years ago I entered the NCCR Master’s programme in Chemical Biology. Remembering the great times that I had during my master’s project, which I did in the Loewith and Winssinger groups, fulfills me with joy and many good memories. Thanks to this Masters’ program I met people from different research fields and from all over the world, and I was able to start building a strong network. In addition, during my master’s degree at the NCCR, I was able to acquire an extensive toolkit of skills in the fields of chemistry and biology.

This helped me getting started with my own PhD in the group of Christian Heinis at the EPFL, where we work on developing methodologies for synthesizing and screening macrocyclic compound libraries. Exactly one year ago I joined a research group at the MIT for a couple of months as a visiting PhD student. Learning about all the amazing opportunities abroad got me excited for what will come after my PhD – a future that surely would look different if I had chosen a different master’s programme back in 2016.


More info about the Master programme in Chemical Biology (UNIGE & EPFL)

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