Studying online

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Unit Overview


This unit introduces the concepts necessary for an appreciation of medicinal chemistry, thereby providing a solid background for further study and employment in the drug discovery industry. The syllabus begins with an overview of drugs and medicinal chemistry and then considers the pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties essential for useful drugs, including a survey of biological (macromolecular) targets, the energetics of drug target interactions, molecular recognition, absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME). The process of drug discovery and design is explored, beginning with factors affecting choice of disease/biological target, the discovery of lead compounds and then progressing to principles and strategies for drug optimisation including analogue design, structure activity relationships, structure-based drug design, reducing side-effects and improving bioavailability including pro-drug strategies.

6 points

Students learn the key concepts and principles involved in medicinal chemistry including the essential role of chemists in the drug discovery process. Laboratory skills are enhanced by practical exercises relevant to medicinal chemistry including synthetic chemistry, chromatography, basic bioassays, measurement of physiochemical properties relevant to pharmacokinetics and combinatorial chemistry.


This comprises laboratory (30 per cent), a mid-semester examination (30 per cent), an oral presentation (10 per cent) and a final examination (30 per cent).

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Matthew Piggott
Unit rules
CHEM2210 Structure Determination and Physical Chemistry
and CHEM2221 Biological and Medicinal Chemistry
Contact hours
lectures: 26 x 1 hour
labs: 36 hours

Patrick, G. L. An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry, 3rd edn: OUP 2005

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
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  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.