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Davidson College: Drug Discovery & Medicinal Chemistry

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Learn how scientists in drug development modify and test molecules to improve potency and reduce toxicity. Discover the criteria that regulatory agencies use to approve molecules that are shown to be both safe and effective as pharmaceuticals for the treatment and prevention of diseases.

Drug Discovery & Medicinal Chemistry
5 weeks
5–7 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

About this course

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Drug discovery is a challenging field, but the pathway most drugs navigate from concept to market is predictable and based upon repeated experimentation. The process requires scientists with expertise in chemistry, biology, and medicine. This course focuses on four aspects of drug development.

  • regulation - approval protocols for government regulatory agencies
  • pharmacodynamics - how a drug affects the body
  • pharmacokinetics - how a drug flows through the body
  • lead discovery/optimization - the steps for finding and improving molecules as potential drugs

The course closes with two case studies of molecules that have advanced through the development process and into clinical trials.

At a glance

  • Institution: DavidsonX
  • Subject: Medicine
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:

    Students planning to complete the course should have the prerequisites listed below.

    • high school algebra - logarithmic and exponential functions
    • high school biology - general anatomy and basic cell structure
    • high school general chemistry - equilibrium and intermolecular forces
    • introductory organic chemistry - functional group recognition and line-angle structures

    Students who do not have these prerequisites will understand much of the course content but may have difficulty earning a passing grade.

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated skills: Drug Development, Biology, Pharmaceuticals, Chemistry, Drug Discovery, Medicinal Chemistry

What you'll learn

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After completing this course, students will be able to...

  • contrast the different steps of the drug discovery process,
  • summarize the relationship between patents and generic drugs,
  • interpret dose-response curves from the action of drugs on proteins,
  • calculate drug-target binding energies from potency measures,
  • describe factors that affect the flow of a drug through the body,
  • predict structural changes in a molecule to influence half-life,
  • priorize weakly active molecules as potential drug candidates,
  • implement modifications to improve the properties of drug-like molecules, and
  • assess literature reports of drug development programs.
  • Module 0 - Welcome
  • Module 1 - Drug Discovery Process
  • Module 2 - Drug Targets
  • Module 3 - Drug Metabolism & Pharmacokinetics
  • Module 4 - Lead Discovery & Optimization
  • Module 5 - Case Studies from the Literature
  • Module 6 - Farewell

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