Medical research, secure agricultural production, a modern healthy diet and personal hygiene are unimaginable without the development of active pharmaceutical agents.

Active agents are molecules that cause a defined physiological change in target organisms. Many active agents are derived from nature and are optimised for application using biotechnological or chemical processes. The best known active agents are the active ingredients in pharmaceuticals such as acetylsalicylic acid in Aspirin or taxol in cancer drugs. But active agents of high social or economic relevance are also found in plant protection products to secure crop yields, in foods, for example as flavour additivies or substances with preventive health benefits, as well as in cosmetics (such as active ingredients for skin problems).

Our rapidly changing, growing and ageing modern society demands continuous responses to new challenges. In addition, modern active agents must meet ever higher demands in terms of efficacy, novelty and safety which means a firm grounding in toxicology is required for competent risk assessment.

Involving 17 institutions, the Leibniz Research Network Bioactive Compounds bundles the Leibniz Association’s broadly-based research on molecules with biological effects.