ChEMoinformaticsPlus: the Erasmus Mundus Master degree in Chemoinformatics across Europe and beyond

8 universities are involved in the two years Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree ChEMoinformaticsPlus that will open to its first student’s edition in September 2022. The Erasmus Mundus label is awarded by the European commission to transnational Master programs that contribute to excellence and internalization of Higher Education in Europe.

Chemoinformatics is a major discipline in theoretical chemistry, using artificial intelligence and data sciences to tackle current social and innovation challenges in Chemistry. It concerns the development, creation, organization, storage, dissemination, analysis, visualization and use of chemical information. Within the last 20 years, Chemoinformatics has become a corner stone for the chemical Industry:

“The use of artificial intelligence/ machine learning technologies has become a critical part in the drug discovery processes and chemoinformatics plays an important role in integrating AI/ML approaches into the field of medical chemistry.” (Astellas Pharma Inc.),

“Chemicals are at the centre of the economy (energy, materials, agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals...) and ... they must be adapted to achieve a sustainable future. The challenge is to use our knowledge and sophisticated tools to understand and manipulate the properties of synthetic molecules as they are developed and enter the environment”. (GdR BigDataCHIM)

“We ... strongly believe we must encourage to strengthen our position in Europe ... This is specially important as the hiring situation in Europe is currently more attractive.”(Janssen)

Chemoinformaticians are first and foremost chemists, with an experimental practice of Chemistry. Therefore, this Master program combines high level training in Chemistry, Theoretical Chemistry and Chemoinformatics, Computer Sciences and Data Sciences and requires good skills in Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Structural Chemistry. The program includes lectures and tutorials on Chemoinformatics, Molecular Modeling, Quantum Chemistry as well as Software Programming and Database Management. Recent developments in Statistics and Machine Learning, specifically Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, are also addressed.

The consortium includes eight Universities:

and two Associated partners:

ChEMoinformaticsPlus is supported by several national and international scientific societies and by over 30 industrial actors.

Study tracks. Within this two years’ program of study, students chose among the following seven study tracks including one year in one university of the consortium and one year in another one:

  1. In Silico Design of Bioactive Molecules (Strasbourg - Milan - Paris)
  2. Chemoinformatics and Physical Chemistry (Milan - Strasbourg)
  3. Chemoinformatics for Biophysical and Computational Chemistry (Ljubljana - Strasbourg)
  4. Chemoinformatics for Organic Chemistry (Lisbon - Strasbourg)
  5. Chemoinformatics and Chemical reactions (Kazan - Strasbourg)
  6. Ultra Large Chemical Library Design and Virtual Screening (Kiyv - Strasbourg)
  7. Chemoinformatics and Materials Informatics (Bar Ilan - Strasbourg)

Each track includes training in an academic laboratory or in the industry. In the end, the graduates obtain a double diploma of the involved institutions.

Grants. From Septembre 2022, the ChEMoinformaticsPlus program offers about 20 Erasmus Mundus scholarships and 25 places per edition. The amount of these highly competitive students’ grants is 1400 euros per month during the duration of the project. The partners endeavour to propose regular Erasmus+ or third party financed scholarships to self paying students.

Professional perspectives. The ChEMoinformaticsPlus degree opens professional perspectives to the graduated students in various fields. As chemoinformaticians, they can start an academic career in research or teaching through the doctoral schools of the members of the consortium and prepare a PhD. They can also work as data and software engineers, specialized in chemical applications. Typical jobs are researcher, teacher, application scientist, software developper, data scientists, software quality control, project manager, consultant or sales representative.

Chemoinformatics Summer School

The Chemoinformatics Summer School (CS3) is a central piece of the Erasmus Mundus master degree Chemoinformatics+. It offers advanced lectures from the best worldwide specialists worldwide in the field of Chemoinformatics. A sample list of previously invited speakers includes Prof. J.-P. Sauvage, (Nobel chemistry in 2016), Prof. G. Schneider, Prof. J. Bajorath, Prof. A. Cherkasov, Prof. A. Tropsha. The school proposes lectures in the morning and tutorials in the afternoon. It is a unique occasion to acquire new material and get familiar with cutting-edge technologies from internationally recognized experts of the field. It is an agora of a very diverse community. As observed from past events, attendees population is typically composed of 50% students, 30% academics and 20% industrials; participants come from Japan, Switzerland, Check Republic, Hungary, England, US, Austria, Italy, Norway, Israel, Russia, Brazil, Croatia, Equator, India, the Netherlands, Poland, China. The active participation of students in the Summer School will be validated via the attribution of additional 2 ECTS. Several specific events are satellites of the school: the molecular modelling project, a preparatory workshop dedicated to the industrial project and a hackathon dedicated to open science.