The medical chemists have an important part to play with the health and well being of millions of people worldwide. Without medicinal chemists, life as we know it would be impossible. Modern medicines give us pain relief, cure bacterial infections and fight viruses and cancer. Doctors would not be able to cure many common diseases without the arsenal of drugs at their disposal. Medicinal chemistry is concerned with the discovery, design and synthesis of new drugs for clinical use. This course includes modules in biochemistry, biology, physiology and pharmacology, along with the fundamentals of chemistry necessary to design and synthesize drugs. These provide an understanding of the link between chemical structure and clinical effectiveness.
Medicinal chemists apply their chemistry training to the process of synthesizing new pharmaceuticals. Their key role is also to improve the processes by which existing pharmaceuticals are made. Medicinal chemists are focused on drug discovery and development and are concerned with the isolation of medicinal agents found in plants, as well as the creation of new synthetic drug compounds. Most chemists work with a team of scientists from different disciplines, including biologists, toxicologists, pharmacologists, theoretical chemists, microbiologists, and bio pharmacists. Together, this team uses sophisticated analytical techniques in order to make and test new drugs and to research and develop the most cost-effective and eco-friendly means of production.
As a medicinal chemist, you can expect to find work in the area of the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and biotech industry that conducts research into new drugs. There is a good scope of working with the research scientists who belong to the drug field like pharmacists, pharmacologists, radio pharmacists and molecular biologists; either as soon as you graduate or after completing a Ph.D. degree, for example via the Drug Research Academy. The MSc in Medicinal Chemistry is a springboard to a research-based career.
- The degree qualifies the holder for admission to the Ph.D. programmes in organic chemistry and/or medicinal chemistry which might include structural chemistry and computerized drug design.
- Patenting – Positions in pharmaceutical companies and private or public sector patent agencies, for instance.
- Upscaling – Process Chemistry. Developing effective, safe, robust synthesis procedures for use in the high-volume production of the active drug substance.
- Basic research into how various chemicals affect biological systems.
- Drug development, including formulating drugs used to treat patients with diseases.
- Testing potential new bio-active compounds in patient populations
- Developing guidelines for how new pharmaceuticals will be.
Medicinal chemists are excited about exploring the unknown!
Persistence, creativity and innovation are the important qualities to have when considering a career in medicinal chemistry. Excellent verbal and written communication skills along with having a team player spirit are invaluable assets when interacting with scientists from other disciplines. If a work which helps to improve human health motivates you, then a career in medicinal chemistry is the right choice.
– Team Leverage