Frontiers in Drug Action and Discovery

Frontiers in Drug Action and Discovery


METX/ /CHEM/BME 170/270                                             Spring 2011









Instructors:                Donald Smith (METX), 442 PSB,,

Phil Berman (BME),                 

Manel Camps (METX),            

Ted Holman (CHEM),              

Roger Linington (CHEM),         

Scott Lokey (CHEM),               


Office Hours:  Smith - Tue 1:30 – 2:30, Wed 4:00 – 5:00


Course Location:      PSB 136,  TuTh 4:00 – 5:45PM  


Course Website:

Course Overview: This course will explore general principles and current approaches involved in modern drug discovery and development, emphasizing basic concepts in pharmacology, medicinal chemistry and 21-st century approaches to drug discovery. The course will use both lectures (for basic concepts) and case-studies (presenting the pathway from discovery through development for clinical use for selected drugs), as well as guest lectures from UCSC faculty and Pharma scientists.


Course Format: The course will be ~55 % instructor lecture-based, ~35% Student-led Case Study presentations, and ~10% Special seminar/workshop with Pharma scientists.  The course will rely heavily on presentation and analysis of selected papers from the peer-reviewed literature, supplemented with background readings from the course text.


Case studies: Students will work in small collaborative teams to develop and present four case studies.

  • Individual case studies will focus on particular diseases/health conditions.
  • Student groups will select specific drugs currently or historically used in the treatment of a specific disease/health condition (e.g., cancer, an infectious disease, hypertension, etc.; one drug per group).
  • Each case/drug presentation will include the following components: 1) Drug chemical properties, 2) Molecular targets, 3) History of discovery, 4) Patent language, 5) Experimental and clinical evidence supporting efficacy, 6) Adverse reactions and contraindications.
  • Student groups will orally present their case on Tue or Thursday (up to 30 min), and submit a written summary of each drug/case at the end of the week (Friday 5 pm; 3 – 4 pages maximum). The written summary should include a written statement of each student’s specific contribution to the case report.


Special seminar:

A special seminar and Q&A workshop will be given by Dr. David Price of Pfizer Pharmaceutical. Seminar will be a special joint METX / Chem / BME seminar given within the METX seminar series (Tue 12:00). Students are required to attend. Dr. Price will also give a Q&A workshop within the regular scheduled class time.


  • Biochemistry (Biol 100, BMB 100A, B, or C, or Chem 103, or equivalent) required.
  • Cell Biology and Human physiology recommended.



  • Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 11th Edition, Chapters 1 to 5, Chapter 65.
  • Assigned readings from the literature


Students will be evaluated based on:

  • In class quizzes (4 @ 15 pts each)                                                     60 pts
  • Case study oral and written reports (3 @ 30 + 50 pts each)              240 pts
  • In-class participation and preparedness                                             40 pts

                                                                                                Total               340 pts



Course Schedule:

Date                Topic                                                                                      Instructor 

March 29         Section 1: Principles of Pharmacology                                  Smith

31        Section 2: Drug Target Interactions                                        Smith and Berman

April     5          Section 2: Targets for Pharmacological Develop.                 Camps

                        Note: Special class time 12:00

7          Section 3: Drug Metabolism                                                   Smith

12        Section 3: Science of Drug Therapy                                      Smith

14        Section 3: Adverse Drug Reactions and Toxicity                  Smith

19        Section 4) Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery                        David Price*, Pfizer

21        Section 4) Medicinal Chemistry                                             Linington

26        Section 5) Medicinal Chemistry, Drug Discovery                  Lokey

28        Section 5) Drug Discovery                                                     Holman

May     3          Section 6) Drug Development and Approval                         Steven Chamow **

5          Section 6) Frontiers in Drug Screening and                           Alexander

Therapies – Stem Cells         

10        Case Study 1                                                                          Smith

12        Case Study 1                                                                          Smith

17        Case Study 2                                                                          Smith

19        Case Study 2                                                                          Smith

24        Intellectual property in drug development                              Christopher Smith***             

26        Case Study 3                                                                          Smith

31        Case Study 3                                                                          Smith

June    2          Open - Pharmacotherapies for Heavy Metal Poisonings      Smith


*Special seminar: . David Price, PhD. is a Director at Pfizer. He will give a METX/Chemistry joint seminar at 12:00, and a Q&A workshop for the class during scheduled class time. 

 ** Steve Chamow, Ph.D. is with S. & J. Chamow, Inc., a Biopharmaceutical Consulting firm.

***Christopher Smith, PharmD, Esq. Dr. Smith was an IP lawyer with Telek and then Amgen.


Updated April 28th, 2011

Instructors and Assistants

  • Staff