Career in Medicinal Chemistry

4 minute read
Medicinal Chemistry
Lab Technician Examining Medical Flask

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. A career in 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.

An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal chemistry is the field that includes designing, developing, and synthesizing pharmaceutical drugs. The field of Medicinal Chemistry is a combination of biology, synthetic organic chemistry, pharmacology, and other biological sciences. Medicinal Chemistry is performed by following certain procedures that include:

  1. Discovery: Discovery is concerned with finding new active compound chemicals that are also called ‘hits’. They can come from existing bacteria, drugs or plants.
  2. Lead Optimization: Further chemistry is analysis is done on the compound where its primary and secondary activities are noticed.
  3. Process Chemistry and Development: This is the final synthetic chemistry stage that includes producing the compound on a large scale for animal testing, and then human trials.
  4. Synthetic Analysis: This happens only if any of the constraints do not apply to the traditional organic synthesis.
  5. Structural Analysis: Now the structure of pharmaceuticals is tested to predict their stability, efficacy, and accessibility.

Check Out – MSc Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Who are Medical Chemists?

Medicinal chemistry is the process of synthesizing new pharmaceuticals. The key role of a Medicinal Chemist is 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.

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 Practice of Medicinal Chemistry

Once you have obtained a Medicinal Chemistry degree, you can practice it in different fields. They include:

  1. Biotechnology
  2. Enzymology
  3. Green Chemistry
  4. Genomics
  5. Immunology
  6. Materials science
  7. Neglected diseases and orphan drugs
  8. Pharmacogenomics
  9. Proteomics
  10. Toxicology

Degrees Required for Medical Chemistry

Here are the degrees that Medicinal Chemists need to have for respective fields:

1. For Pharmaceutical companies: Advanced Degree in Organic Chemistry and at least two years of post-doctoral experience.
2. Traditional Research Centres: Ph.D. Chemist
3. Research Technicians: B.S. Chemistry

Top Universities for Medicinal Chemistry

Here are the top universities in the world that teach Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry:

Name of University QS World University Rankings 2023
New Jersey Institute of Technology  651-700
University of Minnesota 185
Ohio State University-Main Campus 140
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 25
University at Buffalo  425
Purdue University 129
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville 601 – 650
University of the Sciences
University of Iowa 467
Rutgers University-New Brunswick 267
University of Utah 392
Duquesne University
University of Washington-Seattle Campus 80
University of Dayton
Northeastern University 388

Career Opportunities in Medicinal Chemistry

  • 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 Chemistry Jobs

There are several jobs available in the field of medicinal chemistry. It provides different opportunities in the field of pharmaceutical, medical device components, and biotechnology. Here are some job options after Medicinal Chemistry:

  1. Laboratory Careers
    1. Process Chemistry
    2. Formulation Chemistry
    3. Quality Control
    4. Quality Assurance
  2.  Non-laboratory Careers
    1. Regulatory Affairs
    2. Intellectual Property (patents)
    3. Project Management
    4. Technology Transfer

Medicinal Chemistry Salary 

Salaries of Medicinal Chemists depend on the degree and experience of each person. The average salary of Medicinal chemists is INR 20 LPA.

Average Salary of different positions in Medicinal Chemistry are:

Job Salary
Medicinal Chemist INR 5162346.10
Scientist INR 5235055.20
Senior Medicinal Chemist INR 6834655.40


Is medicinal chemistry a good course?

Yes, medicinal chemistry is a good course as it establishes a core understanding of the subject, along with specialist knowledge that helps substantiate a career in the field.

Is medicinal chemistry difficult?

Medicinal chemistry is a comparatively difficult subject.

Is medicinal chemistry the same as pharmaceutical chemistry?

Yes, medicinal chemistry is also often called as pharmaceutical chemistry.

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.

If you are planning to study Medicinal Chemistry, Leverage Edu team is here to help you. Connect with our Counsellors today! Call us immediately at 1800 57 2000 for a free 30-minute counselling session.

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    1. Hi Vidya, thank you for the feedback! To pursue a course in Medicinal Chemistry you can get in touch with our experts who will, in turn, guide you with the ways to make a career in this field.

    1. Hi Vidya, thank you for the feedback! To pursue a course in Medicinal Chemistry you can get in touch with our experts who will, in turn, guide you with the ways to make a career in this field.