Medicinal chemistry is concerned with the chemistry underpinning the design, discovery and development of new pharmaceuticals. The discovery of new drugs is one of the most exciting and rapidly developing fields in science, and there is a growing need for safer, more effective pharmaceuticals against old diseases (like cancer), new ones (such as HIV/AIDS) and diseases that are becoming more widespread (such as malaria and tuberculosis). Medicinal chemistry looks at how to find drugs to combat these diseases, and how to make those drugs.
A major in medicinal chemistry includes the study of natural and synthetic compounds of biological and medicinal importance, how molecules interact with each other and how specific molecules can influence metabolic pathways in living organisms. All of this will help you understand how drugs work at the molecular level, and how to design drugs that are more powerful and more selective.
For more information on the program structure and content, view the Science Undergraduate Handbook.
You will include junior chemistry units among your first year units. It is a good idea to plan ahead and have an idea of which senior units you need to complete, so that you can plan your junior and intermediate prerequisite units accordingly.
You will take intermediate units of study in chemistry and pharmacology, which are prerequisites for your senior units of study.
To complete your medicinal chemistry major, you will take 24 credit points of senior chemistry units and senior pharmacology units.
Drug Design and Development
Pharmacology: Drugs and People
Bachelor of Science graduates with a major in medicinal chemistry are eligible for membership of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI).
With a major in medicinal chemistry, you can work in universities, corporate laboratories, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and hospitals. You will possess strong analytical and laboratory expertise in determining possible curative and preventative drugs for diseases such as cancer, AIDS, hepatitis, polio and even the common cold.
Further study for major
If you are interested in furthering your specialisation in medicinal chemistry, you may wish to undertake an honours year and a subsequent postgraduate research program, subject to admission requirements.
Opportunities for honours and postgraduate research are available for eligible students in a variety of specialised medicinal chemistry fields through the School of Chemistry and the Department of Pharmacology.
Completing your honours year is an important step in exploring your potential for a career in research, as it involves completing a research project in your specialised area, under the supervision of an expert in that field. If you do well enough, you might be eligible to apply for a research program like the MSc or PhD, where you can take your research even further.
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