Synthesis and development of New Bioactive Molecules


The main objective of R. Benhida group over the last years has been to develop new chemical strategies to answer several challenging questions in biology and medicine using small organic molecules. This includes : the development of new synthetic methodologies, the development of modern drug discovery programs with the application of modern medicinal chemistry, nucleic acids chemistry and chemical biology for the identification and validation of new biological targets. The team has high contribution in the identification and validation of new bioactive molecules and novel relevant targets, particularly to overcome drug resistance in oncology.

Current fields of interest

  • Development of synthetic methodologies
  • ‘Smart’ Drug discovery : Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical biology
  • Nucleic acid chemistry


Benhida Rachid (DR CNRS) - Team leader

Rachid Benhida is DR CNRS, Deputy-Director of the ICN Institute and leader of Bioactive Molecules team. He received his Ph. D. from the University-Paris XI (1992). After three years postdoc         (Hoechst/Roussel-Uclaf, Germany and “Institut Curie-Paris”, 1994), he joined the “Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles” as “ANRS young research award” and as CNRS researcher in the same        year (1995). He moved to the University of Nice in 2002. His current researches focus on the development of synthetic methods and their applications in nucleic acid chemistry, chemical biology and the      development of new strategies to overcome drug resistance using small molecules (specific targeting of nucleic acids and CSCs, identification and validation of new targets, etc.)


Ronco Cyril (MC)

Cyril Ronco received his PhD on cholinesterases ligands under the supervision of Prof. P.-Y. Renard at the University of Rouen. He was then awarded with a Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship to work on the total synthesis of complex natural products in Prof. H.-D. Arndt group at Jena University, Germany. After working on medicinal chemistry projects in Prof. Déprez’s group (University of Lille), he joined in 2014 the group of Dr. Benhida as “Maître de Conférences” at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis. His research focuses currently on the development of bioactive molecules to circumvent resistance mechanisms in the field of oncology.

Dao Pascal

Développement de nouveaux inhibiteurs de NIK pour potentialiser l’immunothérapie.

J’ai rejoint l’équipe Molécules Bioactives en 2016 en qualité de post-doctorant.

Après une formation de Biochimie et Biologie moléculaire à l’université Paris Diderot, je me suis dirigé vers la chimie du vivant avec un master en Chimie Médicinale et travailler sur le développement de nouveaux inhibiteurs de la protéine d’adhésion focale FAK à activité kinase dans le groupe du Pr. Christiane Garbay.

Pour mon 1er stage post-doctorale, j’ai rejoint l’équipe du Pr. Bernard Meunier à Guangzhou (Chine) pour travailler sur le développement de nouveaux outils diagnostiques de la maladie d’Alzheimer.

Je mets aujourd’hui à contribution mes compétences dans le développement et l’étude de nouveaux inhibiteurs de NIK, pour la potentialisation de l’immunothérapie.

Safir-Fiho Mauro


 PhD degree in Chemistry from the Université Côte d’Azur, France, in 2018 (Molécules Bioactives group, under the supervision of Dr. Rachid Benhida and Dr. Anthony R. Martin). MS degree in Chemistry from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil (Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul, UFRGS) in 2015 (Applied Organic Photochemistry research group, under the supervision of Prof. Fabiano Severo Rodembusch).

From the same university I got my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Chemistry in 2013 with honours (award for the outstanding academic performance). Currently, I have a one year position as “Attaché Temporaire d’Enseignement et de Recherche” (ATER) in the laboratory of Dr. Rachid Benhida at Université Côte d’Azur (Molécules Bioactives group). My research interests are in the fields of organic photochemistry and nucleic acid chemistry, with emphasis on the design of solvatochromic probes for biological applications and the development of novel methodologies applied to the post-synthetic functionalization of oligonucleotides.


Mateo Lou

PhD Student (2017-2020) : "Design and synthesis of new CXCR1 and CXCR2 antagonists for an application in oncology"

Fabre Marie

PhD Student (2018-2021): "Design, synthesis and optimization of new cytokines receptors antagonists; Application to the treatment of AMD."

Bardovskyi Rostyslav

PhD Student (2019-2022)

Gourhant Mathilde

PhD Student (2019-2022)

Bailly Sarah

Reasearcher (2020-2022)

Sarah Bailly is ingeneer in organic chemistry, graduated from the University of Bordeaux in 2018. Then, she was recruited as research assistant in the Laboratory of Chemistry Coordination in the team “Insaturated molecules for physic, biology and chemistry” Toulouse in 2019. Under the supervision of Prof Remi Chauvin, she worked on the organometallic synthesis of an ethynylanilinyl substituted carbobenzene for photocatalytic devices. Afterwards, she joined the “bioactive molecules” group in 2020 under the supervision of Dr Anthony Martin, working on the Development of a new approach of targeted covalent therapy for the treatment of Myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia.

Dumond Aurore

 PhD Student (2018-2021) in Biology and Chemestry.


Demange Luc (Pr.)

Luc Demange is a medicinal chemist, graduated from “Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris”, who completed his PhD working on peptidyl-prolyl isomerases inhibitors (CEA/ Saclay, 2001). He was postdoctoral fellow in Sherbrooke (synthesis of cardiac glycosides) then in Montpellier (design of growth hormone secretagogues). In 2006, he was recruited as professor assistant (Paris Descartes University), and he developed with Prof. Christiane Garbay CDKs-inhibitors and Protein-Protein Interaction inhibitors, with potential applications in cancer treatment. He received in 2007 the "Award For Young Investigator in Medicinal Chemistry" (Institut de Recherches Servier) and he obtained his Habiliation to Manage Researches (HDR) in Pharmacochemistry in 2011.  
In 2013,LD moved to the “Institut de Chimie de Nice”, where his research interests are focused on the synthesis of new therapeutic agents to overcome drug resistances and to the development of new eco-compatible processes. In 2018 LD has been appointed as professor in organic chemistry at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Paris, and he moved to a new research unit, UMR 8036 CNRS “CiTCoM” in Paris. However, he continues to collaborate in depth with our team, in particular for the search of new anti-cancer drugs.
LD is deputy treasurer of the French Medicinal Chemistry Society (SCT,, in charge of the “Young Research Fellows Meeting”; he is also French delegate at the management committee of the European action COST-CA15135 MuTaLig, aiming at the identification of new chemical entities able to interfere concomitantly with various cellular targets (

Martin Anthony (CR CNRS)

Thématique de recherche:

- Conception et Synthèse d’agents anti-cancéreux principalement focalisés dans la lutte contre les hémopathies chimio-résistantes.

- Méthodologie de synthèse et Ingénierie d’acides nucléiques.

Anthony R. Martin received his PhD from the University of Montpellier in 2011 under the supervision of Prof. Michael Smietana and Dr. Jean-Jacques Vasseur, working on the synthesis and self-assembly of borono(oligo)nucleotides. He then joined Prof. Steven Nolan's group (Saint-Andrews University) as a postdoctoral researcher to work on late transition metal coordination and their applications in homogeneous catalysis. In 2013, he moved to the Institute of Chemistry of Nice in Dr. Benhida's group where he was appointed Chargé de Recherche— CNRS in 2014. His current researches focus on the design of new chemotherapeutics and encompass various aspects of nucleic acid chemistry.

Grytsai Oleksandr

"Development of new anticancer drugs to circumvent resistance mechanisms in oncology. Synthesis and biological application."

Oleksandr Grytsai obtained his PhD in chemistry (2018). He received his B.S. in chemistry (2010) and M.S. (2012) in chemistry of natural products from Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University.

In 2012 he was awarded a fellowship of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to perform a short internship at the Paul Sabatier University (Toulouse, France). The aim of the project was the synthesis of analogous of natural products and evaluation of their biological activity.

From 2012 to 2015 he undertook various positions as a research scientist and as a synthetic chemist at PBMR labs Ltd. (2012-2013), Curplyx Ltd. (2013-2014) and I.F. Lab Ltd. (2014-2015) where he was involved in design and synthesis of new biologically active molecules and small natural products.

At present, he is working toward his Ph.D. in organic and medicinal chemistry on discovery of new bioactive molecules with high therapeutic activity against various cancer cell lines at the Université Nice Côte d’Azur. His scientific interests include modern methods in organic synthesis, bioorganic and medicinal chemistry.

Talha Aicha

3rd year PhD Student (2017-2019):  -Development of new heterocyclic synthesis methodologies under ultrasound irradiations.

-Development of a new anticancer family to circumvent the resistances in the hematologic tumors.

Aicha Talha obtained her B.S. in organic chemistry (2013) and M.S. (2016) in organic and bioorganic chemistry from Mohammed V University of Rabat-Morocco. In 2016, she joined the team of plants chemistry and organic and bioorganic synthesis belonging to the research center: GEOPAC-MOROCCO as a PhD student of medicinal chemistry.

She joined the team of bioactive molecules in September 2018 for an internship of 10 months under the ERASMUS+ framework. And she was registered as an international PhD student at Côte d'Azur University where she is spending her 3rd year of PhD studies.
For the time being she puts her skills to work for the development of a new family of bioactive molecules analogues of Acadesine with high therapeutic activity to circumvent the resistances in the hematologic tumors.

Lagardère Prisca

Etudiante stagiaire Master 2

Sujet : Synthèse de molécules anticancéreuses pharmacologiquement optimisées : 1,2,3-triazoles-1,4,5-trisubstitués.

Piroska Leonard

Etudiant stagiaire en L3

Sujet : Synthèse d’une molécule ayant des effets anti-mélanome (HA 15) et de ses analogues. 

TCHUVAKOV Konstantin

Etudiant stagiaire en L2 chimie-biologie

Sujet : Synthèse de molécules anticancéreuses à partir de différentes guanidines et différents phényl isocyanate.

Purification, extraction, caractérisation. Modification structurale de certaines parties de la molécule afin d’optimiser l’activité de cette molécule sur la cible.

DING Tianran

Etudiant Stagiaire M2.

Sujet : Développement de méthodologies de synthèse appliquées à la post-fonctionnalisation d'acides nucléiques.