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Course Description and Career Prospects

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Medicinal Chemistry

Course Description:

Medicinal chemistry is the application of chemical research techniques to the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. During the early stages of medicinal chemistry development, scientists were primarily concerned with the isolation of medicinal agents found in plants. Today, scientists in this field are also equally concerned with the creation of new synthetic drug compounds. Medicinal chemistry is almost always geared toward drug discovery and development.

The focus on development of new synthetic drug compounds has resulted in the incorporation of many other disciplines, such as biochemistry and molecular biology, into medicinal chemistry. "Medicinal chemistry involves working in teams with scientists from a variety of other disciplines," "There is a lot of collaboration between chemists and biologists while searching for a lead on a new drug or doing research on a preclinical drug candidate. Then, when you look into the drug safety profile, you work with toxicologists and pharmacologists."

These areas include biology, computer-aided design, x-ray crystallography, metabolism and pharmacokinetics, legal and regulatory affairs, clinical, franchise management, pharmaceutics, and process research chemistry. "Working in teams is essential to discovering drugs because many different aspects of a molecule must be defined to identify a candidate for clinical studies." "Medicinal chemistry is the drug discovery engine that provides the tools for the rest of the organization so they can determine the importance of particular biological targets. Most medicinal chemists find that the opportunity to do research with other scientists while helping to new drugs is an exciting part of their work. Drug discovery research is a highly creative and stimulating work environment where people are driven to succeed by personal and scientific objectives, and the desire to contribute to society's well-being.

Medicinal chemists apply their chemistry training to the process of synthesizing new pharmaceuticals. They also work on improving the process by which other pharmaceuticals are made. Most chemists work with a team of scientists from different disciplines, including biologists, toxicologists, pharmacologists, theoretical chemists, microbiologists, and biopharmacists. Together this team uses sophisticated analytical techniques to synthesize and test new drug products and to develop the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly means of production.

Career Prospects:

Though a wide array of positions exist for chemists in medicinal chemistry, the availability of these jobs is dependent upon the economy, shifting government regulations, and research grants. Employment prospects include the academic environment, pharmaceutical companies, and government. Biotechnology organizations also employ chemists in this area. Industry provides the opportunity to choose between a traditional laboratory career or a non laboratory chemistry career in management.

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