School of Chemical Sciences


Medicinal Chemistry

The primary objective of Medicinal Chemistry is the design and discovery of new compounds that are suitable for use as new drugs.

It is a multidisciplinary subject that relies on knowledge from a wide variety of fields including organic chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology and computing.

The discovery of a new drug not only requires its design and synthesis, but also the development of testing methods and procedures. These are needed to establish how a substance operates in the body and its suitability for use as a drug. Drug discovery also requires fundamental research into the biological and chemical nature of the diseased state.

The Medicinal Chemistry major was first offered in 2002, and is the first programme of its kind to be offered in New Zealand. You will be trained in synthesis, reactivity and analysis of organic compounds. You will also gain valuable insight into the pharmacological, regulatory, and ethical aspects of bioactive molecules. The three year BSc major in Medicinal Chemistry, followed by the one year BSc(Hons) in Medicinal Chemistry is designed to produce high quality graduates.

The programme consists of the following three parts:

  • the courses taken in Part I establish a solid framework in fundamental science and covers the basic concepts of chemistry, biology, biochemistry, computer science, statistics, and physics.
  • the second part consists of selected prescribed and elective courses in chemistry, biological sciences, pharmacology, physiology, pathology, and pharmacy.
  • the last part comprises a course in Medicinal Chemistry, selected advanced chemistry courses and a course which considers issues such as intellectual property, good laboratory and manufacturing practice and regulatory affairs of relevance to the pharmaceutical sector. Additional elective courses chosen from biochemistry, pharmacology, and physiology are also taken.

For more details please consult the Chemical Sciences Handbook or the course pages.