Graduate studies in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry are dedicated to research and education at the interface of the chemical and biological sciences. The graduate program is devoted to the education and training of students to become creative and independent investigators for positions in academic, industrial or government settings. Toward this end the graduate curriculum is an interdisciplinary composition of courses covering the major areas of contemporary medicinal chemistry. Students seeking admission must hold at least a B.S. degree in chemistry, biology, pharmacy, or a related area.
CBMC has research strengths in the synthesis and structure-activity characterization of pharmaceutically relevant small molecules and natural products; bioorganic and chemical biology studies of the properties of designed small-molecule ligands and their cognate drug targets, including proteins, nucleic acids, and glycoconjugates; combinatorial biochemistry and proteomics for the identification of novel signaling pathways and drug targets; structural biology and biomolecular dynamics of drug-protein interactions; chemo- and bioinformatics; and molecular modeling.
Build a strong background in traditional chemistry as well as a fundamental understanding of the chemical, biological and pharmacological actions of pharmaceuticals and biomedical products. Study the application of biological, chemical, and data science to computer-aided design, synthesis, evaluation, and analysis of structurally diverse drugs for the detection, treatment, and cure of human diseases in the only program of its kind in Illinois, and one of just a handful in the country.
Practice hands-on techniques by taking lab courses customized for industrial needs in addition to standard lecture-based courses. Conduct cutting-edge research under the direction of chemistry faculty working on medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry, including cancer drug discovery, computational drug design and modeling, and microscopic characterization of biomaterials for regenerative medicine.
Build a strong background in traditional chemistry as well as a fundamental understanding of the chemical, biological and pharmacological actions of pharmaceuticals and biomedical products. Practice hands-on techniques taking lab courses customized for industrial needs along with standard lecture-based courses.
Having occupied a state-of-the-art building, merged the Departments of Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry, and added several recent faculty, the research activity of the medicinal chemistry program is very energized. As a moderately large graduate program, we have the critical mass for the state-of-the-art instrumentation required for modern research in chemistry. Still, the program is sufficiently small to have a nurturing and supportive environment for all the students.
Medicinal chemistry refers to the preparation of biologically active compounds, the study of their potency, and the understanding of their mechanism of action at the molecular level through the construction of structure-activity relationships. There are multiple compelling reasons for the creation of this new major, which include 1) an increasing number of job opportunities for medicinal chemists at the undergraduate level, 2) the growing demand for students to obtain discipline specific training at the undergraduate level, and 3) the recognition in academic and research communities of the importance of medicinal chemistry as a critical and thriving interdisciplinary field. We firmly believe that creation of the Medicinal Chemistry major will meet employer and student demand as well as solidify Virginia Tech as the destination for medicinal chemistry.
Medicinal chemistry is a field focused on the research and development of drugs and pharmaceuticals. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to natural science, combining biology, chemistry and pharmacology. Medicinal chemists investigate chemical compounds to discover new drugs, refine current medicines and develop more effective manufacturing processes at scale.
The School of Molecular Sciences is a unit of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Our faculty includes the best in their respective fields. They have an international reputation for interdisciplinary work and scientific publishing that extends beyond the traditional boundaries of chemistry and biochemistry. Our highly regarded awards, publications and rankings include:
In vitro screens for pharmacokinetic properties, the focus on synthesizing drug-like compounds, and in vitro toxicity screens are important new developments that aid the medicinal chemist's job today.
Suggestions for improving the drug discovery process include more in vivo testing earlier in the drug discovery process, allowing medicinal chemists to champion their drug candidate during its development; and passing on the tacit knowledge of experienced medicinal chemists to their younger colleagues.
The role of the medicinal chemist in drug discovery has undergone major changes in the past 25 years, mainly because of the introduction of technologies such as combinatorial chemistry and structure-based drug design. As medicinal chemists with more than 50 years of combined experience spanning the past four decades, we discuss this changing role using examples from our own and others' experience. This historical perspective could provide insights in to how to improve the current model for drug discovery by helping the medicinal chemist regain the creative role that contributed to past successes.
As highlighted in this article, the role of the medicinal chemist has changed significantly in the past 25 years. In the early era ('then') of drug discovery (1950 to about 1980), medicinal chemists relied primarily on data from in vivo testing. In the more recent ('now') period (about 1980 to the present), the development of new technologies, such as high-throughput in vitro screening, large compound libraries, COMBINATORIAL TECHNOLOGY, defined molecular targets and structure-based drug design, has changed that earlier and relatively simple landscape. Although these new technologies present many opportunities to the medicinal chemist, the multitude of new safety requirements that have arisen has also brought unanticipated hurdles for the task of translating in vitro activity to in vivo activity. Simultaneously, the knowledge base that supports drug research has expanded considerably, increasing the challenge for chemists to understand their fields of expertise. The demonstration of adequate clinical safety and efficacy in humans has also become more complex, and ever-increasing amounts of data are now required by regulatory agencies. In fact, despite the use of many new technologies, and the growing resources and funding for drug research, the number of launches of new medicines in the form of NEW MOLECULAR ENTITIES (NMEs) has been generally decreasing for more than a decade. Clearly, the difficulty and complexity of drug research has increased in the past two decades. It is our aim with this article to discuss how these changes have influenced the role of medicinal chemists and to suggest ways to help them to contribute more effectively to the drug discovery process.
The modern medicinal chemist, although part of a team, has a particularly crucial role in the early phases of drug discovery. The chemist, trained to prepare new chemicals and with an acquired knowledge of the target disease and of competitive drug therapies, has an important part in framing the hypothesis for the new drug project, which then sets the objectives for the project. The chemist also helps to decide which existing chemicals to screen for a lead compound and which screening hits need to be re-synthesized for biological evaluation. Purification and proper characterization of the new chemicals is also the responsibility of the chemist. When an in vitro 'HIT' is identified, the chemist decides on what analogous compounds should be obtained or synthesized to explore the SARs for the structural family of compounds in an effort to maximize the desired activity. Developing in vivo activity for the hit compound in an appropriate animal model is also mainly the responsibility of the chemist. This can often be one of the most difficult steps to accomplish because several factors, such as absorbability, distribution in vivo, rate of metabolism and rate of excretion (ADME), all present hurdles for the chemist to solve in the design and preparation of new, analogous chemicals for testing. The goal at this stage is to maximize efficacy while minimizing side effects in an animal model.
Small companies tend to rely on informal communication and timelines, and this was often the case in the smaller pharmaceutical industry 'then'. For the medicinal chemist, the benefit of this informality was ready access to colleagues in other disciplines to evaluate a compound that the chemist was interested in. The disadvantage came once a chemist's compound was selected for further development. The chemist, who would probably have moved on to another project, usually heard little or nothing about the drug candidate until the (often) bad news came back that the candidate had failed some key test. Keeping abreast of the progress of the drug candidate required the same proactive, informal action that the chemist had used previously to periodically contact the appropriate scientists in other disciplines to get some news about the drug candidate. To address these issues, most organizations in the 1980s established interdisciplinary matrix teams for each drug candidate to facilitate information exchange and joint planning between departments, such as chemistry, biology, pharmaceutics, toxicology, PHARMACOKINETICS, clinical medicine and regulatory affairs, all of which have important roles in drug development. 781b155fdc