Document Type


Publication Date



“Drug Discovery” is a 13-week lecture and laboratory-based course that was developed to introduce non-science majors to foundational chemistry and biochemistry concepts as they relate to the unifying theme of drug discovery. The first part of this course strives to build students' understanding of molecules, their properties, the differences that enable them to be separated from one another, and their abilities to bind to biological receptors and elicit physiological effects. After building students' molecular worldview, the course then focuses on four classes of drugs: antimicrobials, drugs that affect the mind, steroid-based drugs, and anti-cancer drugs. During each of these modules, an emphasis is placed on how understanding the basis of disease and molecular-level interactions empowers us to identify novel medicinal compounds. Periodic in class discussions based on articles pertinent to class topics ranging from the spread of antibiotic resistance, to the molecular basis of addiction, to rational drug design, are held to enable students to relate course material to pressing problems of national and daily concern. In addition to class time, weekly inquiry-based laboratories allow students to critically analyze data related to course concepts, and later in the semester give students an opportunity to design and implement their own experiments to screen for antimicrobial activity. This course provides students with an understanding of the importance of chemistry and biochemistry to human health while emphasizing the process, strategies, and challenges related to drug discovery. © 2018 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 46:327–335, 2018.