MNPC Graduate Curriculum

student holding pipette

The PhD degree in Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry is based on interdisciplinary study in courses offered by the disciplines of Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology. A major emphasis is put on completing the majority of coursework during the first two years while simultaneously gaining a mastery of research in the laboratory. The Ph.D. is granted only after completing and defending an original research based thesis project, typically in four to five years.

The Division of MNPC requires students to complete 24 credits of didactic coursework, of which a minimum of 15 credits must be divisional courses. The remaining credits may be fulfilled by selecting from the list of interdisciplinary elective courses. Entering students who do not have basic knowledge in all subjects will be advised to complete one or more prerequisite electives during years 1 and 2. Most students will be advised to follow the plan of study indicated below to complete the divisional requirements during the first two years. Students entering with an M.S. may apply to the Division for exemption of up to 6 credit hours of equivalent coursework.

Many of the MNPC faculty and their students are also affiliated with various interdisciplinary degree and training programs including Toxicology, Biotechnology and Pharmacological Sciences

First Year

Fall Term Spring Term
Perspectives in MNPC Research (1 sh) MNPC Divisional Courses (3-6 sh)
MNPC Divisional Courses (3-6 sh) Interdisciplinary Electives (3-6 sh)
Interdisciplinary Electives (3-6 sh) MNPC Research (1-3 sh)
Principles of Scholarly Integrity (1sh) MNPC Seminar (1sh)
MNPC Research (1-3 sh)  
MNPC Seminar (1 sh)  
Total: 9-12 sh Total: 9-12 sh


Second Year

Fall Term Spring Term
MNPC Divisional Courses (3-6 sh) MNPC Divisional Courses (3-6 sh)
Interdisciplinary Electives (3-6 sh) Interdisciplinary Electives (3-6 sh)
MNPC Research (1-3 sh) MNPC Research (1-2 sh)
MNPC Seminar (1 sh) MNPC Seminar (1 sh)
Total: 9-12 credits Total: 9-12 credits


MNPC Divisional Courses

Course Offering Schedule
PHAR:5515 (46:135) Perspectives in MNPC Research (1) (Staff): Contemporary research in medicinal chemistry and natural products. Fall, every year)
PHAR:5537 (46:137) Enzymatic Basis of Drug Metabolism (3) (Duffel): Current literature on catalytic and physical properties, distribution, and substrate specificity of enzymes involved in mammalian drug metabolism. Spring 2016, 2018, 2020
PHAR:5550 (46:150) Synthetic Strategies in Medicinal Chemistry (3 ) (Olivo): Modern chemical methods for construction of carbon-carbon bonds commonly used in synthesis of natural products; strategic disconnections for the syntheses of these molecules. Fall 2016, 2018, 2020
PHAR:5512 (46:209) Drug Discovery and Mechanisms (3) (Roman): Process of modern drug discovery, focus on high throughput screening strategies, target validation, pharmacological characterization of new compounds; mechanism of drugs targeting G protein coupled receptors, ion channels and transporters, targets in biological systems. Fall 2015, 2017, 2019
PHAR:5541 (46:211) Total Synthesis of Natural Products (3) (Jin): Total synthesis of natural products; use of strategies, tactics, efficiency, selectivity, synthetic maneuvering. Consent of instructor required. Spring 2017, 2019, 2021
PHAR:6501 (46:214) Principles and Mechanisms of Chemical Toxicology (1) (Doorn): Principles and mechanisms of chemical toxicology related to drugs and environmental agents. Modern methods used to conduct toxicological research. Fall 2015, 2017, 2019
PHAR:6502 (46:214) Toxic Agents and Concepts in Toxicology (1) (Doorn): Specific classes of toxicants and non‑organ directed toxicity, including chemical carcinogenesis, oxidative stress, teratogenesis; clinical toxicology, antidotes, methods and models in toxicology. Fall 2015, 2017, 2019
PHAR:6503 (46:214) Target-Organ Toxicity (1) (Doorn): Role of drugs/toxicants in systems toxicity (target organ); hepatotoxicity, neurotoxicity, cardiotoxicity, and toxic responses of immune system. Fall 2015, 2017, 2019
PHAR:5545 (46:215) Current Medicinal Chemistry (3) (Kerns): Modern techniques used in drug discovery; important drug classes, their chemical mechanism of action. Fall 2016, 2018, 2020
PHAR:5549 (46:219) Analytical Biochemistry (3) (Rice): Application of modern chromatographic and detection methods used to isolate, characterize, and quantify drugs and macromolecules. Spring 2017, 2019, 2021
PHAR:5566 (46:266) Enzyme Kinetics and Enzyme Mechanisms (1) (Spies): Examination of chemical mechanisms of pharmaceutically relevant enzymes. In addition to classical methods for elucidating enzyme chemical mechanisms, the course material also incorporates principles of structure-based and computer-aided drug design and discovery. Spring, every year

PHAR:5521 High Throughput Screening for Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences (1) (Wu): Broad introduction to high throughput screening (HTS) and its application in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences; HTS as a modern technology platform integrated with robust detection systems and robotic liquid handling instruments; use of HTS platforms to identify biologically active small organic molecules to validate drug targets, screen compound libraries; identification of biologically active small molecules for use as probes, tool compounds, drug leads; systematic, unbiased, and/or focused hypothesis‑based approaches for mechanistic studies in biological and medical sciences. Recommendations: bachelor degree in biochemistry, chemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, or equivalent.

Spring, every year