Molecules to Medicine

“Molecules to Medicine”  (M2M) is a new training initiative of our program aimed at presenting timely content and simultaneously addressing workforce diversity. The M2M initiative will educate our students in the multifaceted aspects of getting a drug molecule from the bench to the bedside while simultaneously being a means of exposing them to the wide range of job opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry.

Specifically, M2M involves three courses (described below), Molecules to Medicine, Biomedicinal Chemistry, and Molecular Modeling and Design. Discussions of job opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry will be integrated in all courses, plus information on the scientific training and general education necessary to be competitive for positions in large companies and small start-ups. Also, a regular program is being established in which we invite our alumni, who are well- established in the pharmaceutical industry, to visit our Molecular Biophysics Journal Club to share their experiences and create networking opportunities.  Selected weekly seminars in the participating departments and in our Annual Retreat will be on the theme of M2M. We are making the offerings of M2M available to all graduate students regardless of their home department, so there is an immediate, broader-based institutional impact of this initiative.

CHEM 342 Molecules to Medicine

This course will explore the process of drug development, including target selection, lead discovery using computer-based methods and combinatorial chemistry/high-throughput screening, organic synthesis, bioavailability, clinical trials, and other factors (some economics and politics) involved in bringing a drug to the marketplace. Critical consideration of the variables to contend with at each step will be described and discussed, including aspects of research ethics and patent law. The basic science of molecular recognition, computer-aided drug design, and the role of factors from synthetic chemistry to toxicology will be presented. Case studies of the development of drugs recently successful in making the journey from molecule to medicine will be discussed, as well as the story of some that did not, and why. Emerging new design strategies such as fusion-protein therapies, crisper technology, and enhanced use of rational design and combinatorial methods will be emphasized, and how pharmaceutical research is evolving in the postgenomic era, particularly with biologics. Job opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry will be discussed.

Crosslisted:  BIOL342, CIS342, MB&B342

CHEM321 Biomedicinal Chemistry

This course is designed to explore the molecular basis of disease and treatment options. Topics will reflect the importance of chemistry and biochemistry in the advancement of medicine today and will include treatment of metabolic disorders, rational drug design, and mode of drug action. A large portion of the course will be dedicated to learning computer programs used in computational drug design as part of a final drug design project.

Crosslisted:  MB&B321

CHEM396 Molecular Modeling and Design

This course will introduce students to the practical and theoretical aspects of computationally modeling and designing biological macromolecules, with a particular emphasis on protein structures. Students will run molecular dynamics simulations with Gromacs ( and do protein structure predication/design with Rosetta ( Over the course of the semester students will embark on a group research project, likely related to redesigning proteins that show potential for use as drugs. Both Gromacs and Rosetta use the Mac/Linux command-line, so having some familiarity with that prior to the course would be helpful but not required.