Master's Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences: Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry

The Master's Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences – Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry specialisation track equips you with theoretical and practical skills in drug screening, identification, design and targeting.

How to find, identify, design and target new drugs?

The programme provides you with strong knowledge on one or more of the following topics that covers the chemistry of drug development from slightly different perspectives: bio-organic chemistry, radiopharmaceutical chemistry and natural compound chemistry. In addition, you will learn to master the state-of-the-art methods needed for the full identification of drug molecules and for their quantitation from different types of tissues and metabolite mixtures. Our approach gives you strong hands-on knowledge on medicinal chemistry, since practical laboratory work forms the soul of our programme.

Programme in brief


The specialisation track Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry is a two-year programme of 120 ECTS credits. The curriculum is comprised of:

  • Core Courses (20 ECTS) and laboratory project (20 ECTS) in Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Thematic specialisation in either Bioorganic Chemistry, Natural Compound Chemistry or Radiochemistry (20 ECTS)
  • Master’s thesis and related courses (40 ECTS)
  • Other studies including mandatory language studies and selectable studies in different thematic areas and special themes (20 ECTS)

Major subject studies are track-specific but can be offered as selectable studies for all the study tracks of MDB in Biomedical Sciences. Each student makes a personal study plan which helps to select the courses that best suit for personal interests and background of the student.

Click on images to enlarge them. 


Programme Structure

Figure 3. The core courses are shared between the three thematic modules, but they all have their own thematic courses. Students choose one of the thematic modules, but may take courses from other themes as optional courses as well.

Programme structureFigure 2. The timing of studies in Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry. All students take the same core courses and select one specialisation area with the thematic courses and related laboratory projects. Master’s thesis is made under the same thematic research area.




Our approach on medicinal and radiopharmaceutical chemistry is a unique combination of research areas that are closely related, but that require different type of expertise. All of the three options are represented by well-established, top of the line research groups: Bioorganic GroupRadiopharmaceutical Chemistry Group, and Natural Chemistry Research Group.

The main target in studies of Bio-organic Chemistry is to master the key concepts of organic reactions, stereochemistry and physical organic chemistry. This way the student can design and execute organic syntheses and understand chemical biology. The Bioorganic Group is specialized into the synthesis of biopolymers (oligonucleotides, oligosaccharides and peptides), their interaction mechanisms at the molecular level and to the application of this knowledge into solving medicinal problems.

Students of Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry can specialize into radiochemistry, i.e. the synthesis and use of short-lived, isotopically labelled positron emitting organic tracers. These tracers are used in positron emission tomography (PET) that enables imaging of biochemical processes in vivo in both health and disease. The synthesis of radiotracers involves both low molecular weight small molecules as well as macromolecules, typically peptides, proteins and their fragments. Teaching of radiopharmaceutical chemistry takes place in close collaboration with the Turku PET Centre, a National Institute jointly owned by the University of Turku, the Åbo Akademi University and the Hospital District of Southwestern Finland.

With Natural Compound Chemistry you learn to master numerous chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques together with other methods used for characterization and activity measurement of plant-derived biomolecules. The Natural Chemistry Research Group is specialized into the screening of the plant kingdom for bioactive molecules, especially large polyphenols such as ellagitannins. The screening phase can be accompanied by purification of active substances and measuring their structure/activity relationships, or developing new activity methods.

The facilities of Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry are state-of-the-art. We have direct access to the Turku PET Centre preclinical and clinical groups. The PET Centre has four cyclotrons for radionuclide production and 25 hot cells for radiotracer synthesis. At the Department of Chemistry we have recently updated NMR facilities with modern 500 and 600 MHz magnets with cryo-probes that facilitate operation at low drug concentrations. We have direct access to UPLC-MS/MS instruments with both triple quadrupole and high-resolution mass spectrometry detectors. An efficient ECD spectrometer complements the equipment needed for the accurate identification of the produced and purified drug candidates. To know how to master these equipment and techniques is a true advantage to the chemist who graduates from our programme.


The Master’s Laboratory Project will form the basis for your Master’s Thesis. This laboratory project is a part of a true research project taking place in the department and made under the guidance of a supervisor. The Master’s thesis will be written based on the results from the laboratory project and a review of relevant background literature.

It is possible to conduct he laboratory project in some other University or in industry as well.

Examples of thesis topics:

  • Fluorescent oligonucleotide probes for screening high-affinity nucleobase surrogates
  • Solution-phase synthesis of short oligo-2′-deoxyribonucleotides using clustered nucleosides as a soluble support
  • Production of 11C-methylated radiopharmaceuticals
  • New quantitation methods for and screening of anthocyanin-tannin adducts in 300 red wine varieties
  • Enhancement of anthelmintic activities of plant metabolites by chemical modifications

Turku has longstanding research traditions in the field of biomedical sciences. Especially the areas of drug discovery, diagnostics, and biological and medical imaging represent the top-level expertise of the University of Turku.

The Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry specialisation track is part of the Master's Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences. The close co-operation of four specialisation tracks forms a unique educational combination of biomedical sciences in Finland and worldwide. Other specialisation tracks of the Master's Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences are:

The Master's Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences is organised in collaboration with two universities, the University of Turku and the Åbo Akademi University and managed together by the Faculties of Medicine, and Science and Engineering at the University of Turku.

The offered education is based on the true research strengths of the participating units:

  • Department of Chemistry at the University of Turku
  • Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Turku
  • Department of Biochemistry at the University of Turku
  • Department of Biosciences at the Åbo Akademi University



Career options


After completing the studies, depending on your specialisation, you will

  • know how to design and execute multistep synthesis routes to produce organic compounds
  • know the special requirements to work in the radiopharmaceutical chemistry laboratory
  • know the basics of bioimaging
  • know how to design and execute synthesis routes for compounds used in bioimaging
  • know how to isolate and purify organic compounds
  • know how to characterize structures of organic compounds
  • understand how reactivity and bioactivity is related both to the structure and reaction conditions
  • know the chemical properties, functionality and biological significance of biopolymers and their structural units
  • know the classes of plant bioactive compounds, their biosynthesis routes and chemical properties and their most important structure/activity-relationships
  • be able to use and develop liquid chromatographic and mass spectrometric methods
  • know how to measure different types of bioactivities for pure compounds and compound mixtures, and to develop new types of activity methods

Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry track has close connections to the pharma industry at the Turku region and international collaborative networks. These provide the students with opportunities to do the Master’s Laboratory Project in their facilities or in collaboration. They may offer internships and job opportunities for the graduates as well.

You will be equipped with skills that provide you with multiple career options. You will be able to join the industry in Finland or abroad, or to enter the public sector, for example, in various authoritative duties.

The studies in Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry provide excellent possibilities for a career in life sciences. For example, you can:

  • continue as a postgraduate student to pursue a career as a scientist
  • work in industry as a researcher or quality manager
  • work in a core facility management taking care of e.g. the mass spectrometers
  • work in science administration nationally or internationally
  • work in hospital research laboratories
  • be a product manager or a project coordinator

The Master of Science degree completed in the Programme qualifies the graduates for PhD studies in Turku, elsewhere in Finland or universities worldwide.

Graduates from the programme are eligible to apply for a position in the University of Turku Graduate School, UTUGS.  The Graduate School consists of  doctoral programmes, which cover all disciplines and doctoral candidates of the University.

Together with the doctoral programmes, the Graduate School provides systematic and high quality doctoral training. UTUGS aims to train highly qualified experts with the skills required for both professional career in research and other positions of expertise.

Several doctoral programmes at University of Turku are available for graduates:

Entry requirements


General Requirement

You are an eligible applicant for Master’s-level studies if

  • you have a nationally recognized first cycle degree – normally a Bachelor’s degree – from an accredited institution of higher education,
  • your degree corresponds to at least 180 ECTS (European credits) or to three years of full-time study,
  • your degree is in a relevant field for the Master’s degree programme that you’re applying to. Please check the programme page for detailed degree requirements.

Language Requirements

Applicants must have excellent English language skills and a certificate that proves those skills. You can indicate your language skills by taking one of the internationally recognized English language tests. 

Applicants must reach the minimum required test results to be considered eligible to the University of Turku. No exceptions will be made. Read more about the language requirements here.


The degree on basis of which you are applying to the MDP in Biomedical Sciences must be in a relevant field of study. For the Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry track such fields are

  • chemistry
  • molecular biosciences
  • biochemistry
  • biomedical sciences
  • bioengineering
  • other life sciences
  • pharmacology
  • pharmacy
  • medical sciences

The applicants should also be familiar with the basics of laboratory practice.

You may apply to maximum two of the four specialisation tracks offered at the Master’s Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences. The choices must be prioritized. 


The contents of formally eligible applicants' previous degrees do not always correspond to the academic level of the programme. Therefore admitted students can be advised or required to complete up to 60 ECTS of additional, Bachelor level studies while studying for the Master's Degree. The extent and contents of the supplementary studies are defined individually for each student when a personal study plan is formulated in the beginning of the studies. The supplementary studies may be part of the Master's Degree only up to 20 ECTS and they may therefore extend the targeted study time.

Since the language of instruction in Bachelor’s level at the University of Turku is Finnish, an applicant needing supplementary studies available only in Finnish can be required to submit proof for Finnish skills during the application process. In case such proof is not submitted, the applicant needing supplementary studies must be rejected.


Yearly 40 students will be admitted to the Master's Degree Programme on Biomedical Sciences.

Applications are evaluated by the admission committee of the Master’s Degree Programme. The applicant is scored separately for each track s/he is applying to. The admission committee also may interview the best scoring applicants in each specialisation track. The interview invitations will be sent by e-mail. If the applicant cannot be reached for the possible interview, the application will not be processed further.  

The admission committee scores the selected applicants by following application components: 

  • Compatibility of the background studies 0-5 p. (0 p. = insufficient, 1p = sufficient relevance, 2 p. = good relevance, 3 p. =  very good relevance, 4 p. =excellent relevance, 5 p. = outstanding relevance) 
  • Previous academic success and study history 0-4 p. (0 p. = insufficient/not suitable, 1 p. = sufficient, 2 p. = good, 3 p. = very good, 4 p. = excellent. Here it should be noted, that if the applicant has already an MSc degree(s) or higher, or is already studying at University of Turku, it is not necessarily considered to be beneficial.)
  • Laboratory working experience 0-4 p. (0 p. = no experience, 1 p. = laboratory course work as part of previous studies, 2 p. or 3 p. = additional experience which is not directly included in the previous studies, e.g. internships, summer projects, other working experience), 4 p. = extensive experience (e.g. worked many years in the lab)
  • Motivation letter 0-4 p. (0 p. = insufficient, 1 p. = somewhat motivated, 2 p. = sufficient and well-justified motivation, 3 p = good motivation, 4 p. = excellent motivation) (max. 4000 characters in the application form)
  • The interview performance and the English skills during the interview are both scored on scale 0-4 p. (0 p. = insufficient, 1 p. = satisfactory, 2 p. = good, 3 p. = excellent, 4 p. = outstanding).
  • Completing a possible pre-assignment task during the interview (0-4 p.)
  • First priority track selection (0.5 p.)

Motivation letter should include answers to the following questions:

  • Please tell us why are you interested in the Master's Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences and the particular track(s) you are applying to?
  • What kind of career plans do you have?
  • Why are you interested in applying to Turku, Finland?
  • Expected living expenses in Finland are minimum 560€/month. How do you intend to finance your studies at the University of Turku?

If the applicant scores 0 p. in any of the components, the application will not be processed further. In the case of the same amount of points, all of the applicants with the same score will be selected. The admission committee reserves a right to decide into which university the applicant will be admitted, if the applicant has applied to both universities, ÅAU and UTU in Biomedical Imaging. The preferred choice of the applicant will be taken into account when possible.

In the application form, an applicant should include name, affiliation, full address and e-mail address of two referees, who are willing to give information about the applicant, if needed.

It is possible to have only one Bachelor’s or Master’s study right at the Faculty of Science and Engineering. Therefore, when accepting an offered study place, the student will lose any previous BSc. or MSc. study right at the Faculty of Science and Engineering.