Drug Discovery and Development is an interdisciplinary program involving many aspects of chemistry and molecular biology, ultimately associated with intellectual property and clinical trials. As such, Drug Discovery and Development is a critical component of the drug discovery, design, and development pathway. No longer is the medicinal chemist just the synthetic chemist who synthesizes a range of compounds in the hope that one of them will turn out to be a lead compound for development. He or she has a firm basis in chemistry that may be focused in organic synthesis, computational chemistry, or one of the allied chemistry disciplines, but also has a familiarity with pharmacology, structural biology, pharmacokinetics, toxicology, and intellectual property. At the University of Arizona, our drug discovery and development faculty have a variety of expertise, such as synthetic medicinal chemistry, structure- based design, molecular modeling, NMR spectroscopy, and molecular biology (including transcriptional control, DNA repair, cell signaling, and oxidative damage mechanisms). The Drug Discovery and Development Program and its students have participated in drug discovery programs leading to clinical trials of agents in a number of therapeutic areas, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Research in Drug Discovery and Development operates at the interface of chemistry and biology. It requires a broad perspective in science and typically involves interactions with chemists, botanists, pharmacologists, and clinicians. Drug discovery and quality control may require further contacts with business leaders, lawyers, intellectual property rights specialists, and government and non-government officials. Thus, Drug Discovery and Development offers many challenging opportunities in both basic and applied research.
The role of Drug Discovery and Development in the health-related sciences is evidenced by the increased need for highly trained professional personnel (M.S., Ph.D. degrees). This need is reflected in the number of positions available in research/teaching/service areas of health professional schools (of human medicine, pharmacy), university undergraduate and graduate programs, pharmaceutical and chemical industries, hospitals, and state and federal government research and regulatory agencies.
The Graduate Program Track in Drug Discovery and Development at the University of Arizona is oriented toward modern areas, especially those areas dealing with the discovery and development of drugs from natural resources. Current research of the participating faculty members in the Program include investigations in the fields of cancer chemoprevention, natural products chemistry, antioxidant chemistry, drug design and synthesis, molecular graphics, and the application of NMR and mass spectrometry to biomedical problems.