Master's Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences: Chemistry of Drug Development
The Master's Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences – Chemistry of Drug Development 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: bioanalytical chemistry, bio-organic chemistry and radiopharmaceutical 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 Chemistry of Drug Development is a two-year programme of 120 ECTS credits. The curriculum is comprised of:
- Core Courses (20 ECTS) and laboratory project (20 ECTS)
- Thematic specialisation in either Bioanalytical Chemistry, Bio-organic Chemistry or Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry (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)
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 download them as pdf.
Figure 1. 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.
Figure 2. The timing of studies in Chemistry of Drug Development. 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 Chemistry of Drug Development 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 Group, Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry Group, Bioanalytical Chemistry together with Detection Technology 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 radiosynthetic chemistry and applications of short-lived, isotopically labelled positron emitting radiotracers. 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.
Students of Bioanalytical Chemistry will learn the most prominent (bio)analytical detection and separation techniques and are capable of applying the techniques to medicinal chemistry and drug discovery. Student knows how to design bioanalytical assays and separation methods for the identification, quantification and property mapping of potential drugs and target molecules – also in practice. Courses are provided by the Natural Chemistry and the Detection Technology Research Groups. Content of the courses is considered to meet the needs of neighbouring industry for bionanalytical chemistry.
The facilities of Chemistry of Drug Development 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
- Synthesis of 11C- and 18F-labelled 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
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
- develop diagnostic and drug discovery methods for protein and cell-based targets
- understand the basics of widely applied methods such as luminescence techniques in high throughput screening
Chemistry of Drug Development 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 Chemistry of Drug Development 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:
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.
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 Physical and Chemical Sciences must be in a relevant field of study. For the Chemistry of Drug Development track such fields are
- or similar
The applicants should also be familiar with the basics of laboratory practice relevant to the applied track.
You may apply to only one of the five specialisation tracks offered at the Master’s Degree Programme in Physical and Chemical Sciences.
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 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 amount of required supplementary studies cannot exceed 60 ECTS.
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.
Applications are evaluated by the admission committee of the Master’s Degree Programme. The decision for admission will be based on:
- the relevance of the applicant’s awarded degree(s)
- the amount, relevance and grades of the courses in the degree(s)
- the language test result (see Language requirements)
- the motivation letter
- possible answers to the optional questions included in the application
- possible interview
It is possible to have only one Bachelor’s or Master’s study right at the same faculty. Therefore, when accepting an offered study place, the student will lose any previous BSc. or MSc. study right at the same faculty.