Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NYP’s new course: Medicinal Chemistry

By Choo Yu Liang, Year 1, Medicinal Chemistry

It's not just all about experiments
What is Medicinal Chemistry?
Medicinal chemistry is a branch of chemistry that is focused on the discovery, design, synthesis and analysis of novel medicinal molecules that are suitable for therapeutic use.

What can you learn in Medicinal Chemistry?
Laboratory investigations and practicals will be conducted after each lecture on a particular topic to reinforce the student’s understanding of the concepts taught through application. During the first year, most of the concepts are taught in theory such as physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, cell biology, microbiology and biochemistry. Laboratory safety is also emphasized.

In the second year, students will understand the process of drug discovery and development. The course will take students from initial research, high throughput screening, drug formulation, and animal studies to clinical trials and approval. Students will also be taught compound synthesis and purification techniques such as distillation, recrystallization and chromatography and drug analysis, and acquire knowledge in drug reactions and toxicology as well as techniques in spectroscopy.

Students will also learn problem-solving skills and the importance of teamwork. This helps them to co-operate with their lab partners to ensure experiments are carried out successfully with meaningful results. These skills will prove useful in the working environment.
The course will also appeal to students who appreciate studying Chemistry and Biology at the Junior College level but are looking for something different from college curriculum.
1st Year Medical Chemistry students having fun in the lab
What makes Medicinal Chemistry so exciting?

Medicinal Chemistry aims to train technically competent graduates to integrate into the drug discovery and development programmes in the pharmaceutical industry, so if you ever wondered what are the active compounds found in common pain killers such as Panadol, Panadol Extra, Aspirin and Nurofen or you think you have what it takes to come up with an effective cure for cancer, then look no further!
From my own experience, the course will definitely appeal to students who enjoy studying chemistry and/or biology since students who perform well in their science subjects at the O-levels usually breeze through the first semester. Most of the lecturers are also friendly and approachable and explain concepts in an enthusiastic manner.

What about attachments and career prospects?
Final year students will be able to experience working in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industry and may be attached to laboratories in research institutions to experience and handle real life situations. After graduation, they may even become research officers in medicinal, pharmaceutical and chemical companies, or technical specialists in government statutory boards.

O-level students may want to consider embarking on this course for an exciting career in Medicinal Chemistry!

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