ChemComm Milestones – Simon Sieber

We are excited to share the success of Simon Sieber’s first-time independent research article in ChemComm; ‘Catch-enrich-release approach for amine-containing natural productsincluded in the full milestones collection. 

Read our interview with Simon

What are the main areas of research in your lab and what motivated you to take this direction?

The variety and complexity of natural product structures and their potential to treat diseases fascinate me. The research in my group focuses on the discovery of natural products and the development of new strategies to isolate them. The recent progression of current bacterial, viral, and fungi infections is the main driving force of our research.

Can you set this article in a wider context?

Natural products in drug discovery suffer from the high isolation costs and the re-discovery of known compounds. Several approaches have been developed to mitigate those issues by identifying active compounds at an early stage. One of those strategies consists of chemoselective methods that can be applied to a minimum amount of sample to extract compounds of interest. In this study, we are focusing on targeting amine, since this functional group has been present in many bioactive natural products. The development of our novel chemoselective approach led to the catch, enrichment, and release of amine-containing natural products. This represents the first chemoselective approach yielding underivatized amine-containing compounds.

What do you hope your lab can achieve in the coming year?

In the future, we will apply our advanced technology to identify bioactive natural products. Our protocol improves the identification of known compounds at an early stage and uses a minimal amount of biological resources. We are aiming to find novel antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal compounds.

Describe your journey to becoming an independent researcher.

The idea of becoming a researcher started through my fascination for natural products during my master’s thesis with Professor Deniz Tasdemir. This passion was emphasized during my Ph.D. with Professor Karl Gademann, where natural product isolation and structure elucidation were used as tools to understand communication between organisms. The decision to continue in academic research was further cemented by conducting challenging projects during my postdoctoral position with Professor Shana Sturla and for my following career as a senior scientist. Recently, I started a new chapter in my career becoming an independent researcher with the trust of the Swiss National Science Foundation with the Spark grant award, which led to the development of this study.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?

The best advice I have ever received is to follow my passion and interest. This advice has always been central in all my decisions throughout my studies and career.

Why did you choose to publish in ChemComm?

ChemComm was our first choice journal due to its high impact, its broad audience and the compact format that makes it ideal for short communication.

Simon Sieber completed his undergraduate studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. His Ph.D. work, under the guidance of Professor Karl Gademann at the University of Basel, Switzerland, was on natural product isolation and synthesis. Simon then moved to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), Switzerland as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the group of Professor Shana Sturla. Since 2017, Simon is a Senior Scientist at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, focusing his research on the discovery of novel natural products and the development of novel analytic strategies.

You can reach out to Simon on Twitter (@Simon__Sieber), LinkedIn ( and ResearchGate (

Explore more ChemComm Milestones news and updates on our Twitter: @ChemCommun

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