PLACEBO was initiated as a partnership between CeMM and seven other Austrian research groups, originally funded and started under the Gen-AU program of the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research. The project has developed into a long-term initiative and facility, open to the wider scientific community on a fee-for-service basis.
PLACEBO provides researchers in Austria with access to chemical biology resources, including a 92,000 compound library and high-throughput and high-content screening, to identify and characterize small molecules that affect new targets for studying biological processes and developing new drugs.
Head of Platform Austria for Chemical Biology (PLACEBO)
Stefan Kubicek, born in 1978, is Austrian and joined CeMM in August 2010. He obtained an MSc in synthetic organic chemistry from the Vienna University of Technology after writing a diploma thesis at ETH Zurich. For his PhD in Thomas Jenuwein’s lab at the IMP in Vienna, he changed fields to molecular biology. He then performed postdoctoral research working on chemical biology with Stuart Schreiber at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. Stefan Kubicek heads the chemical screening platform and PLACEBO (Platform Austria for Chemical Biology), a task he is well equipped for based on previous screening experience with Boehringer Ingelheim and at the Broad Institute. These activities have resulted in the identification of the first selective histone methyl transferase inhibitors and small molecule inducers of insulin expression. Stefan Kubicek has also headed the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Chemical Epigenetics and Antiinfectives, a public-private partnership between CeMM, Boehringer Ingelheim and Haplogen. The Kubicek lab is working on the role of chromatin in the definition of cell types and cell states, particularly chromatin-modifying enzymes as synthetic lethal targets in cancer and chemical transdifferentiation to insulin-producing beta cells. In an ERC-funded project, the laboratory is working on metabolic enzymes in the cell’s nucleus and testing the hypothesis that small molecule metabolites shape chromatin structure and thus control gene expression and cell identity.