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Prospective Students

Medicinal Chemistry Graduate Program

Graduate studies in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry are dedicated to research and education at the interface of the chemical and biological sciences. The graduate program is devoted to the education and training of students to become creative and independent investigators for positions in academic, industrial or government settings. Toward this end the graduate curriculum is an interdisciplinary composition of courses covering the major areas of contemporary medicinal chemistry.

Students seeking admission must hold at least a B.S. degree in chemistry, biology, pharmacy, or a related area.

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Our faculty are also associated with these graduate programs

Molecular Biology

Microbial Biology



How to Apply

Graduate students in the Department are supported by research assistantships, which currently pay $30,000.00 per year. Tuition and fees are paid for students who are making satisfactory progress towards the Ph.D. degree.

The first year of graduate study is done in one of the Universities Interdepartmental Graduate Programs. Students typically join a research laboratory in Medicinal Chemistry in the 2nd year of graduate study at the University of Utah.

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Biological Chemistry Program

The Biological Chemistry Program is a graduate program consisting of three independent research tracks that enable students to tailor their education in one particular research area. The three tracks include the following:

  • Biochemistry
  • Chemical Biology/Medicinal Chemistry
  • Structural Biology/Biophysics

Graduate students can choose to work with more than 40 faculty from the Departments of Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Oncological Sciences, Pharmaceutics/Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacology and Toxicology and Physics (BC faculty research).

These investigators span diverse disciplines that involve chemical or physical approaches to biological problems.

PhD Curriculum

Core Courses

Course  Title  Credit Hours 
BLCHM 6400 Genetic Engineering
Basic methods of DNA manipulation, library construction, cloning
BLCHM 6410 Protein and Nucleic Acids Biochemistry
An integrated approach to the applications of NMR, X-ray crystallography, and mass spectrometry in structural biology.
BLCHM 6430 Structural Methods
An integrated approach to the applications of NMR, X-ray crystallography, and mass spectrometry in structural biology.
BLCHM 6450 Biophysical Chemistry
Discussion, lecture.
CHEM 7200 Contemporary Organic Synthesis I
Survey of the most important preparative reactions in organic synthesis. Emphasis is placed on mechanism and stereochemistry where appropriate. Introduction to retrosynthetic analysis. Reading assignments from primary and review literature.
CHEM 7240 Physical Organic Chemistry I
Mechanistic organic chemistry for first-year graduate students; weekly homework problems; extensive use of handouts and literature materials.
PH TX 6690 Professional Skills Development
Preparation of grant applications and process of grant review. Mechanistic organic chemistry for first-year graduate students; weekly homework problems; extensive use of handouts and literature materials.
INTMD 7570 Research Ethics
Ethics in scientific research for graduate students.
MD CH 7890 Research Seminar in Medicinal Chemistry
Formal seminars and informal presentations of current research results. Includes a tutorial in presentation methods.
MD CH 7970 Thesis Research: Ph.D.
Doctoral thesis research.


MD CH 6520 Natural Products Chemistry and Biosynthesis
Natural products and related synthetic compounds; biogenesis, metabolic pathways, structure elucidation and synthesis of alkaloids and other heterocycles, steroids, and terpenes.
MD CH 6550 Site-Specific Drug Targeting
Approaches to the chemical preparation and delivery of bioconjugates of pharmaceuticals and biophysical probes to selected cellular targets. Biochemical studies of affinity probes, immunoconjugates, prodrugs, liposomes, membrane mimetics, and chemically-modified polysaccharides, peptides, and nucleic acids are included.
MD CH 7095 Molecular Modeling and Biomolecular Simulation from a Pharmaceutical Perspective
Summary: This survey course, including a hands-on computational component, will cover computational and simulation methods for understanding the structure, dynamics and interactions of biological molecules with an emphasis on topics relevant to therapeutic design, delivery and disposition. Possible topics will include molecular modeling, atomistic simulation, molecular docking, drug design, ADME, homology modeling, high performance computing, and protein structure prediction. We will first review fundamental principles of molecular interaction and then survey various modeling approaches to highlight their ranges of applicability and limitations. Experience with computers will be very helpful for the laboratory component.
CHEM 7210 Contemporary Organic Synthesis II
Design of synthetic approaches to complex organic molecules; retrosynthetic analysisand functional group compatibility is stressed; numerous examples of syntheticstrategies from the literature are presented and analyzed.
CHEM 7250 Physical Organic Chemistry II
Discussion, lecture. Continuation of CHEM 7240.
CHEM 7270 Organic Spectroscopy I
Solution of complex organic structural problems using UV, IR, MS and NMR.Emphasis is placed on NMR.
CHEM 7280 Organic Spectroscopy IIBr /> Discussion, lecture. Continuation of CHEM 7270. 2
CHEM 7460 Protein Chemistry
Discussion, lecture
CHEM 7470 Nucleic Acid Chemistry
Discussion, lecture. Continuation of CHEM 6460.
PHCEU 7010 Systematic and Cellular Pharmacokinetics
Fundamental aspects of drug transport and effects from a systems physiology to a cellular level. Pharmacokinetics is taught with emphasis on understanding compartmental and non-compartmental modeling, physiologic modeling, and cellular drug transport to characterize the effectiveness of drug delivery systems.
PHCEU 7020 Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Equilibria in Pharmaceutical and Biological Systems
Physicochemical fundamentals of dosage form design. Molecular thermodynamics approach to establishing principles of solutions, structures of liquids and solids, complexation, ion-solvent interactions, and multiple equilibria of organic solutes. Physiochemical examination of peptides and proteins, and protein structures. Thermodynamics of nucleic acids including temperature effects, cooperativity and hybridization equilibria. Principles of colloid and interfacial sciences applied to pharmaceutical dosage formulations.
PHCEU 7030 Macromolecular Therapeutics and Drug Delivery
Introduction to polymers in pharmaceutics and drug delivery. Transport phenaoena in drug delivery sytsems. Macromolecular and vesicular carriers. Biorecognition and drug targeting. Protein, oligonucleotide, and gene delivery systems.
PHCEU 7040 Drug Stability
Principles of kinetics and mechanisms of organic reactions and structure-reactivity relationships applied to phermceutical systems. Mechanisms of the degradation and stabilization of drugs, proteins, and DNA.
PH TX 5631 Biochemical Mechanisms of Signal Transduction
Mechanisms by which extracellular signals, through receptors, regulate transmembrane signaling systems that control production of second messengers within target cells.
PH TX 6610 Principles of Toxicology and Pharmacology
General principles, testing procedures, toxic responses, and target organ toxicities.
PH TX 6630 Mechanisms of Toxicity
Mechanisms of chemically induced injury to living systems. Biologically reactive chemical intermediates, cellular responses to chemical injury, and carcinogenesis and genetic toxicity.
PH TX 6650 Enzymology of Xenobiotic Metabolism
Enzyme nomenclature, distribution, properties and characteristics; physiological and xenobiotic regulation of activity and pharmacological and toxicological consequences of enzyme activation, induction, and inhibition.
MBIOL 6440 Gene Expression
Advanced topics in prokaryotic and eukaryotic gene expression including transcription, RNA processing and export and translation. Core courses for the molecular biology graduate program.
MBIOL 6480 Cell Biology
Advanced topics in cell biology including topics in cell structure and methods, membrane, protein trafficking, cell growth and differentiation, and signal transduction; core course for molecular biology graduate program.
ONCSC 6150 Biostatistics
Statistical methods in Biology
ONCSC 6300 Concepts of Developmental Biology
Principles of and topics in developmental biology. The course is based on reading and discussion of primary literature. Registration is limited to 20 students.

Research Areas & Graduate Student Handbook

  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Drug Discovery Research
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Natural Product Research
  • Natural Products Drug Discovery
  • Glycobiology
  • Antiviral Drug Discovery
  • Therapeutic Biomaterials
  • Biodiversity
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Structure Based Drug Design
  • Molecular Simulation

Download Graduate Student Handbook

Contact Us

Contact Us

If you have any questions or would like more information please contact the Medicinal Chemistry Department Chair, Dr. Darrell Davis.

Department of Medicinal Chemistry

30 South 2000 East, Room 307

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-5820

Phone: (801) 581-7006