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Drexel University College of Medicine Launches Unique Drug Discovery and Development Program

September 9, 2011

Drexel University College of Medicine is launching a new master of science degree program in Drug Discovery & Development that provides students the opportunity to understand, evaluate and engage with the entire process of drug discovery and development. This unique degree is being offered through the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology and prepares graduates for a sustainable career with a biotechnology firm, pharmaceutical company, contract research organization or academic research laboratory.

Drug discovery is the identification of a compound that has the potential to be effective against a specific disease target; drug development is the subsequent testing and refinement of that compound until the United States Food and Drug Administration finally approves it for patient use. These two discovery processes fuel the $745 billion dollar global pharmaceutical industry.

"There is a tremendous need for students to be prepared to hit the ground running and to understand the complex nature of how a new drug eventually makes it to the market," said James Barrett, PhD, co-director of the program and chairman and professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine. "Scientists must have a working knowledge of corporate culture, systems management, project planning, regulatory mandates, manufacturing and marketing. These are not skills routinely taught in research-based academic culture."

Drug discovery and development can be almost impossibly complex involving multiple elements. Biomedical researchers may not be aware of fiduciary limits that can constrain a company; business executives may not comprehend the differences between clinical trials phases; and both groups may not be well versed in how governmental regulations can impact research and bottom lines. This new Drexel University College of Medicine program will "bridge-the-gap" between these different groups to help streamline the process. It will provide students with a core focus on the many facets that make up drug discovery and development, while simultaneously providing those students with multiple options to pursue related areas of interest.

"Students are often naïve but considerably interested in the difference between a career in academia versus a career in the industry," said Janet Clark, PhD, co-director of the program and associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology. "This program provides in-depth exposure to the complex processes with the pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology sector, allowing them to fully evaluate either path. Most importantly, is that this program offers sound, scientific training that will be of immediate benefit, both to the students, as well as to the industry."

Applications to the program are currently being accepted. Learn how to apply to the Drug Discovery and Development program.