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Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology

The University of Chicago_052921C
[The University of Chicago]

- Overview

Collectively, pharmaceutics and pharmacology researchers focus on using state-of-the-art technologies to conduct research around four main themes: (1) cancer therapy, (2) cytoprotective therapy, (3) drug delivery systems, (4) drug toxicity.
  • Cancer Treatment: Discovery of anticancer drug targets, identification/evasion of resistance mechanisms, and optimization of drug delivery and disposition are the main areas of focus of the department. Anticancer Therapeutics Research leverages expertise in novel drug delivery systems, drug transport and membrane trafficking, pharmacokinetics, data analysis, and basic/translational/clinical pharmacology to improve outcomes for cancer patients. 
  • Cytoprotective Therapy: A major goal of drug discovery in neurological, cardiovascular and renal diseases is to slow the progression of epithelial cell death. Preclinical studies of cell death mechanisms and cell survival mechanisms are important areas of research in the department, knowledge that will aid in the development of therapies that reduce inflammatory and degenerative processes. 
  • Drug Delivery System: As new biologics and cell and gene therapies are discovered, improved strategies are needed to deliver them to target sites in the body. Our research encompasses expertise in medicinal chemistry, bioengineering and RNA nanotechnology to develop future medicines to improve human disease. 
  • Drug Toxicity: Understanding the mechanisms underlying adverse effects of drug therapy is a major area of drug toxicity research. Understanding how drugs enter normal cells and exert their toxic effects will help design strategies to mitigate this damage and improve patient health. Drug interactions (DDIs) can also cause adverse drug reactions in patients. Determining the mechanisms underlying DDI is another area of research. Drug transporters and principles of pharmacology are an integral part of this research topic.


- Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal chemistry focuses on the molecular aspects of drug action: interactions with drug targets from a drug and target perspective, the relationship between medicinal chemical structure and drug action, and the impact of metabolism on drug structure and its action.

Medicinal chemistry involves the application of methods from many specialized disciplines, all of which focus on the ultimate goal of drug discovery. Drug target identification and validation, rational (target-based) drug design, structural biology, computational-based drug design, method development (chemical, biochemical, and computational), and "lead compound" development are all aspects of medicinal chemistry. Chemical Biology Techniques and methods of organic chemistry, synthetic organic chemistry, combinatorial (bio)chemistry, mechanoenzymology, computational chemistry, chemogenomics, and high-throughput screening are all used by medicinal chemists for drug discovery.


- Pharmaceutics

Pharmaceutics is a multidisciplinary science that examines the development, production and characterization of dosage forms, as well as the disposition and action of drugs in the body. It is the study of relationships between drug formulation, delivery, disposition and clinical response. Pharmaceutics encompasses a molecular evaluation of drug metabolism and transport processes and the study of genetic, environmental and disease-related factors that regulate or perturb those processes, as well as the fundamental mathematical relationships between enzyme/transporter function, blood concentration-time profiles and the spectrum of pharmacological effects.

Pharmaceutics include: Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics, Pharmacoepidemiology, Pharmacogenomics, Pharmacovigilance, Pharmaceutical formulation and Pharmaceutical technology. 



Pharmacology has evolved over the years. Pharmacology, originally a scientific discipline describing the apparent actions of biologically active chemicals, now explores the molecular mechanisms by which drugs cause biological effects. Broadly speaking, pharmacology is the study of how natural and synthetic chemical agents (i.e. drugs) affect biological systems. This includes research into the origin, chemical properties, physiological and behavioral effects, mechanisms of action, biotransformation, and therapeutic and non-therapeutic uses of drugs. Pharmacological research can determine the effects of chemical agents on subcellular, systemic, physiological or behavioral processes; focus on the treatment and prevention of disease; or address the potential hazards of pesticides and herbicides.

Pharmacology is often described as a bridge science because it combines knowledge and skills from many fundamental science disciplines, including physiology, biochemistry, and cell and molecular biology. Pharmacologists are able to "translate" such knowledge into the rational development of therapeutics. Because of their multidisciplinary training, pharmacologists offer a unique perspective on issues related to drugs, hormones, and chemistry.

The interdisciplinary nature of the field offers pharmacologists a variety of research opportunities not found in other areas of scientific inquiry. It is this flexibility, and the potential for practical applications of research, that attracts people to become pharmacologists.



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