Medicinal Chemistry (2024)

Course manager

Torben R Højland 

Semester schedule

Autumn (13-week period)



Language of instruction


Course type



Competences corresponding to participation in the courses General and organic chemistry, Biochemistry, Molecular biology 1, and Microbiology are recommended.


This course is a basic introduction to the field of medicinal chemistry. This course involves many disciplines that come together to give an overview of the process of pharmaceutical development. We will go through target acquisition, lead identification, lead optimization, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic considerations, drug approval and how these are all connected. In addition, we will obtain an overview of some of the drug classes most important to society.


General interactions

  • General intermolecular interactions between drug and target

Drug targets

  • General protein structure and function
  • Enzymes
  • Receptors and signal transduction
  • Nucleic acids

Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics

  • Enzyme inhibitors and modulators
  • Receptor agonists and antagonists
  • Alkylating agents and nucleic acid terminators
  • The cell membrane and wall as drugs targets

Drug development

  • Lead identification
  • Drug design
  • Combinatorial and parallel synthesis
  • Quantitative structure-activity relationships
  • Drug optimization
  • The regulatory process

 Selected agent overviews

  • Antibiotics
  • Antivirals
  • Chemotherapy
  • The cholinergic and adrenergic nervous systems
  • Opioids
  • Cardiovascular drugs

Learning targets

On completion of the course, the student is expected to be able to:


  • Describe and categorize drug-target interactions
  • Explain how proteins, nucleic acids and membranes work and strategies for targeting them

  • Describe ways of obtaining a lead
  • Explain and relate the different considerations that go into optimizing leads
  • Describe how infectious diseases can be combated
  • Describe how diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous systems can be treated


  • Participate in discussions with peers on topics of medicinal chemistry
  • Disseminate important points of medicinal chemistry to the outside community
  • Write a report that detail the important aspects of a certain area of medicinal chemistry
  • Use general knowledge of medicinal chemistry to understand and discuss topics of lectures from externals 


  • Be able to get an overview of the steps required to bring a drug to market and realize how they interact
  • Be able to evaluate the multitudes of strategies for curing or modulating diseases
  • Be able to assess the variety of competences needed for drug development
  • Work independently to collect and process knowledge about drug discovery 

Teaching method

Lectures, group discussions, and individual project work

Qualifications for examination participation

  • Fulfilment of the requirements for compulsory participation as given in the study program part 2.4.
  • Participation in all planned company visits
  • Participation in all planned teaching activities involving external lecturers

All shall be executed and submitted pursuant to guidelines set out by the course manager.

Examination and aids

  • Submission of individual project report
  • Individual oral examination based on the project report. Duration of examination: 20 min.

Permitted aids: Project report. No access to the internet. 

The final marking will be an overall assessment of the written project report and the performance at the oral examination. 




The 7-point grading scale