Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 29.8 k / Year(s) Deadline: Dec 1, 2024
44 place StudyQA ranking:5408 Duration:4 years

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Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry emphasize the study of chemical and biochemical rationales for the design and development of drugs. They draw from a spectrum of sciences, including analytical chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, organic chemistry, and pharmacology through the application of modern techniques from structural chemistry, biotechnology, and molecular biology.

At The University of Texas at Austin, a rational target-oriented approach to drug design and development is employed. We utilize physical techniques such as molecular modeling, high field NMR, and the use of molecular targets (such as enzymes and receptors) available through recombinant DNA techniques. We have elected to concentrate in two main areas that interface medicinal chemistry: (1) molecular biology/biotechnology; and (2) structural chemistry.

Present faculty associated with our graduate program are actively involved in research programs that include the following: drug-nucleic acid interactions, biotechnology, microbial transformations, microbial enzymology, neurotransmitter enzymology and metabolism, and synthetic medicinal chemistry. The broad background of our graduate students helps them meet the challenges of research careers in academia, industry, and government.

Our unique curriculum provides students with a broad foundation of knowledge ranging from molecular biology to organic chemistry, with particular emphasis on pharmaceutical chemistry. Students are introduced to research in the laboratories of our world-class faculty members through a series of rotations, and learn a variety of different techniques while exploring different approaches to science. Individual faculty interests are described online and incorporate the timely themes of drug design, biotechnology, enzyme mechanisms, glycobiology and bioorganic chemistry.

The student’s academic and research programs are tailored to meet his or her specific interests and professional goals and are decided upon by that student and his/her supervising professor. However, all students take a set of “core” courses in advanced organic chemistry, advanced medicinal chemistry, advanced biochemistry and molecular biology (12 semester hours). Within one calendar year of admission, each student declares a sub-specialization in medicinal chemistry (synthetic medicinal chemistry, bioorganic chemistry or structural molecular biology) and fulfills the core requirements of that sub-specialization.

Following completion of the core requirements, and typically near the end of the second year of study, the student will be required to take the candidacy examinations. The written candidacy examination consists of a single comprehensive exam prepared by the student’s examination committee consisting of division faculty and other faculty members whose selection is based upon the student’s specialization and research. Within 90 days of passing the written exam, the student submits a formal, original NIH proposal to the examination committee concerning a topic chosen by the student and approved by the examination committee. This serves as the basis for the oral candidacy examination. Upon successful completion of both examinations, the student is admitted to candidacy and the dissertation committee is formulated and charged with supervising the dissertation research and final defense.

Core Course Requirements

  • (Required of all students unless waived by the Academic Advisor)
  • CH 386J Advanced Organic Chemistry
  • CH 395G Biochemistry
  • CH 395J Molecular Biology (This can be replaced with other courses by permission)
  • PGS 396M Medicinal Chemistry: General Principles, Pharmacological Classification, and Mechanism of Action

Electives (Choose 4 courses)

  • PGS 382C Chemistry of Natural Products
  • PGS 386E Enzymes and DNA as Chemical Targets for Drug Action
  • PGS 388C Introductory Bioorganic Chemistry
  • PGS 388D Advanced Bioorganic Chemistry
  • PGS 396C Synthetic Medicinal Chemistry
  • PGS 397M Drug Design and Synthetic Strategy
  • CH 386K Advanced Organic Chemistry
  • CH 387D Physical Methods in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • CH 387K Biochemical Techniques
  • CH 391L Macromolecular Structure Determination
  • CH 392H Biomolecular Structure by NMR Spectroscopy
  • CH 392N Physical Chemistry of Macromolecular Systems
  • CH 394 Chemistry of Enzyme Systems


  • Application for Admission 
  • Official GRE scores 
  • Resume and/or Curriculum Vitae
  • Letters of Recommendation from three individuals
  • The application fee is $65 for U.S. applicants and $90 for International applicants
  • Official Transcripts. Include transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended. You will uploadyour transcript as a PDF after you submitted your application and paid the applicationfee. Upload your transcript(s) on the Status Check page. 
  • Official TOEFL Scores
  • Financial Responsibility Form 
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