Drug Discovery and Development

Drug discovery and development employs a variety of techniques and tools with the ultimate goal of eradicating disease with new therapeutic agents. Central to small molecule drug discovery is the discipline of medicinal chemistry, which combined with bioassay design, using biochemistry and molecular biology, and structural and chemical biology, provides a multidisciplinary framework for attacking disease.

At the University of Arizona, our DDD faculty is distinguished by a broad range of drug discovery approaches covering medicinal chemistry, structure-based design, structural biology, molecular modeling, phenotypic screening, and molecular biology. 

Graduates of the DDD track will be 21st century drug hunters. Their tools will be those long-associated with medicinal and natural products chemistry such as the synthesis and characterization of new compounds and the isolation and characterization of new compounds from natural products. Drug discovery in the 21st century also involves protein and nucleic acid chemistry, molecular biology, structural biology, cell biology, transgenic animals, proteomics, genomics and more. Students will also be exposed to aspects of drug development, such as process chemistry, bioassay cascades, drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics, and pharmaceutics.

The degree offered in this track is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Pharmaceutical Sciences with an emphasis in drug discovery and development.


The goal of the PhD program is to train drug hunters for the 21st century to use cutting-edge technology to create new therapeutic agents to eradicate disease.




Application Requirements

Application requirements include a bachelor's degree in pharmacy, chemistry or the biological sciences or a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree with adequate preparation in mathematics.


To Apply:

There are two routes to apply for admission into the COP Drug Discovery & Development Graduate Studies Track:

  1. Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (ABBS): An umbrella graduate program for first year PhD students which affords the opportunity for lab rotations through all ABBS-associated graduate programs, flexible curriculum options, plus one year of stipend, tuition, registration fees and health insurance. Applications occur through the following portal: https://abbs.arizona.edu/

  1. Track Specific (direct) Admission (TSA): In exceptional cases where prior contact/interaction has already been established between the applicant and specific track faculty resulting in an invitation to apply, an application for direct admission (TSA) can be submitted using the following portal: GradApp . Students admitted through TSA must perform DDD track rotations. Importantly, when uploading your application to GradApp, you will be asked to answer the following question “Which track faculty have you interacted with, resulting in an invitation to submit a TSA application?” For a list of DDD core faculty including the graduate track director, please click here: DDD Core Faculty

Applications accepted September 1, 2022 - December 1, 2022

Application Questions:  Graduate Program Coordinator: jjarevalo@pharmacy.arizona.edu 


Apply to ABBS



chris hulme, PhD
Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology
Track Director, Drug Discovery & Development
BIO5 Drug Discovery
Skaggs Building, room 110