Research Interests

  • Ligand-activated transcription factors (nuclear receptors)
  • Development, chemical biology and pharmacology of nuclear receptor ligands
  • Chemical probes and tools
  • AI driven molecular design

Short CV

  • Studied Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacy at LMU Munich
  • 2015 PhD in Pharmaceutical/Medicinal Chemistry, Goethe University Frankfurt
  • 2015 - 2019 Junior Group Leader, Goethe University Frankfurt
  • 2017 - 2019 ETH Fellowship Scholar / PostDoc, Department of Chemistry an Applied Biosciences, ETH Zurich Switzerland
  • 2019 Habilitation, Goethe University Frankfurt
  • 2019 - 2021 Group Leader, Goethe University Frankfurt
  • Since 2021 W3 Professor for Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry, LMU Munich

Key publications

  • Faudone, G.; Bischoff-Kont, I.; Rachor, L.; Willems, S.; Zhubi, R.; Kaiser, A.; Chaikuad, A.; Knapp, S.; Fürst, R.; Heering, J.; Merk, D. Propranolol activates the orphan nuclear receptor TLX to counteract proliferation and migration of glioblastoma cells. J. Med. Chem., 2021, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.1c00733.
  • Willems, S.; Gellrich, L.; Chaikuad, A.; Kluge, S.; Werz, O.; Heering, J.; Knapp, S.; Lorkowski, S.; Schubert-Zsilavecz, M.; Merk, D. Endogenous vitamin E metabolites mediate allosteric PPARγ activation with unprecedented co-regulatory interactions. Cell Chem. Biol., 2021, DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.04.019.
  • Schierle, S.; Chaikuad, A.; Lillich, F.; Ni, X.; Woltersdorf, S.; Schallmayer, E.; Renelt, B.; Ronchetti, R.; Knapp, S.; Proschak, E.; Merk, D. Oxaprozin analogues as selective RXR agonists with superior properties and pharmacokinetics. J. Med. Chem., 2021, 64, 5123–5136.
  • Willems, S.; Kilu, W.; Ni, X.; Chaikuad, A.; Knapp, S.; Heering, J.; Merk, D. The orphan nuclear receptor Nurr1 is responsive to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Commun. Chem., 2020, 3, 85.
  • Gellrich, L.; Heitel, P.; Heering, J.; Kilu, W.; Pollinger, J.; Goebel, T.; Kahnt, A.; Arifi, S.; Pogoda, W.; Paulke, A.; Steinhilber, D.; Proschak, E.; Wurglics, M.; Schubert-Zsilavecz, M.; Chaikuad, A.; Knapp, S.; Bischoff, I.; Fürst, R.; Merk, D. L-thyroxin and the non-classical thyroid hormone TETRAC are potent activators of PPARγ. J. Med. Chem., 2020, 63, 6727–6740.
  • Merk, D.; Sreeramulu, S.; Kudlinzki, D.; Saxena, K.; Linhard, V.; Gande, S.; Hiller, F.; Lamers, C.; Nilsson, E.; Aagaard, A.; Wissler, L.; Dekker, N.; Bamberg, K.; Schubert Zsilavecz, M.; Schwalbe, H. Molecular tuning of farnesoid X receptor partial agonism. Nat. Commun., 2019, 10, 2915.
  • Pollinger, J.; Gellrich, L.; Schierle, S.; Kilu, W.; Schmidt, J.; Kalinowsky, L.; Ohrndorf, J.; Kaiser, A.; Heering, J.; Proschak, E.; Merk, D. Tuning nuclear receptor selectivity of Wy14,643 towards selective retinoid X receptor modulation. J. Med. Chem., 2019, 62, 2112–2126.
  • Merk, D.; Friedrich, L.; Grisoni, F.; Schneider, G. De novo design of bioactive small molecules by artificial intelligence. Mol. Inform. 2018, 37, 1700153.
  • Schmidt, J.; Rotter, M.; Weiser, T.; Wittmann, S.; Weizel, L.; Kaiser, A.; Heering, J.; Goebel, T.; Angioni, C.; Wurglics, M.; Paulke, A.; Geisslinger, G.; Kahnt, A.; Steinhilber, D.; Proschak, E.; Merk, D. A dual modulator of farnesoid X receptor and soluble ep