Research news:

Kirkamide and Bacteria/Plant Symbiosis

The interaction between the plant Psychotria kirkii and its bacterial symbiont has been studied for over 100 years, yet the chemical constituents involved remained unknown. We have characterized an new aminocyclitol, termed kirkamide, which was shown to be toxic to insects and arthropods.

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Copy, Edit, and Paste

Progress in the chemical sciences has formed the world we live in, both on a macroscopic and on a nanoscopic scale. The last century witnessed the development of high performance materials that interact with humans on many layers, from clothing to construction, from media to medical devices. On a molecular level, natural products and their derivatives influence many biological processes, and these compounds have enormously contributed to the health and quality of living of humans.

However, natural product approaches to designer materials, that is, combining the best of both worlds, remain scarce.

Over the last decade, we have developed a research program directed to the generation of natural product functionalized materials, exploiting the strategy of “copy, edit, and paste with natural products”.

Read more in our account!

Our research

  • Synthesis

    The evolutionary wisdom enshrined in natural products can be fully unlocked by organic synthesis. The preparation of natural product derivatives with improved properties led to their widespread use - from drugs to tool compounds in biology. Synthetic efforts in the Gademann lab are directed towards the development of novel strategies and tactics in organic synthesis. In particular, we aim to achieve concise syntheses of natural products based on biogenetic proposals. Recent examples for this approach are represented by virosaine A and the taiwaniaquinoids. Targets are selected either based on their complex architecture posing challenges to current methods or based on their interesting biological activity.

  • Bioprospecting

    The search for novel chemical structures that interact selectively with key biological processes is one of our key research interests. We focus on natural products as powerful modulators of biological systems. These compounds are isolated from cyanobacteria, and their structures are characterized by spectroscopic techniques and often chemical degradation. As ultimate proof, we employ partial and total syntheses for structure determination. We then investigate the ecological role as well as the therapeutic potential by a series of in vivo and in vitro assays, either in-house or in collaboration with biology groups worldwide. We have also assembled a natural products library that is being screened in high-throughput assays.

  • Neuroengineering

    One of the most significant challenges to human society represents the emergence of neurodegenerative diseases in industrialized countries. The problems associated with these unmet medical needs are accentuated by so-far limited treatments and the continuing increase in life expectancy. Many of the neurodegenerative diseases are associated with a decrease of neurites over time. Therefore, one successful therapeutic option represents the stimulation of neurite outgrowth. An appealing strategy involves the use of small molecule natural products, derived from plant or bacterial sources. We are preparing such neuronal growth factors derived from natural products in order to understand, control and direct neurite outgrowth.

The Research Group

Dr. Karl Gademann

Professor of Chemistry

Dr. Christof Sparr


Dr. Erika Crane

PhD Northwestern University

Dr. Regina Berg

PhD University of Heidelberg

Dr. Nadine Bohni

PhD University of Geneva

Christophe Thommen

M. Sc., EPF Lausanne

Simon Sieber

M. Sc., EPF Lausanne

Fabian Schmid

M. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Elias Kaufmann

M. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Isabel Kerschgens

M. Sc., Univ. of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Robin Wehlauch

M. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Christophe Daeppen

M. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Manuel Scherer

M. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Raphael Liffert

M. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Hiromu Hattori

M. Sc., Univ. of Tokyo, Japan

Mathieu Szponarski

M. Sc., UPMC/ParisTech, France

Ellen Piel

M. Sc., Univ. of Magdeburg, Germany

Raphael Vogt

B. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Jan Hanusch

B. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Darja Kolbin

B. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Simone Grendelmeier

B. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Dominik Bezold

B. Sc., Univ. of Basel

Joel Rösslein

B. Sc., Univ. of Basel