Education and Training

Resources Developed at UCSD

The CDDI contributes to the development of new educational and training programs in drug discovery. For exampe, we have helped establish the new Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Discovery track in UCSD's Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, a cross-campus program providing students with a visionary perspective on the drug discovery and development process.

As part of this effort, the CDDI's Dr. Vivian Hook has led development of a new class in Principles of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Development (SPPS 263 A/B) which opens in Winter Quarter 2018.  SPPS 263A covers target discovery, lead discovery and early preclinical drug development, and is taught by Drs. Anthony O'Donoghue, Larissa Podust, and Ruben Abagyan of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SSPPS). SPPS 263B covers lead optimization, late stage preclinical development, regulatory affairs, and clinical trials, and is taught by Drs. Carlo Ballatore, Conor Caffrey, and Vivian Hook of SSPPS. Graduate students may take both 'A' and 'B' quarters of the course, or one quarter ('A' or 'B'). 

In addition, the CDDI's Dr. William Ettouati has developed leading MOOCs in Drug Discovery, Drug Development and Drug Commercialization, and has furthermore, working with Drs. Jan Hirsch and Jeremiah Momper, established a new Masters program in Drug Development and Product Management.

UC San Diego also offers manyother  classes related to drug discovery. The UC San Diego Extension, which is open to all members of the San Diego community offers relevant certificates and programs, including: Drug Discovery and Development, Clinical Trials Design and Management, Clinical Trials Administration and the Medicinal Chemistry Intensive Program. Students enrolled in one of UC San Diego's many degree-granting programs have access to a broad array of classes related to drug discovery, some of which are summarized below, by department.

The CDDI's education and training initiatives are led by Dr. Haim

Other Resources

The CDDI has arranged to make two drug development classes developed jointly by Yale University and Merck Pharmaceuticals available without charge to us at UC San Diego:

  1. Drug Development and Pharmacology
  2. Principles of Clinical Research and Design

Each link opens a Main Menu page for the corresponding course, showing all the individual module and lesson titles for that course. If you select the Start button to the left of each module title on the Main Menu, this will launch a module introduction where you should be able to gather a quick summary of the material covered. Both courses are freely available for your viewing. They are not currently organized to track progress to allow one to get credit for taking them.

Please review the usage guidelines before getting started. We’d welcome your feedback on these courses:


BICD 145. Laboratory in Molecular Medicine (4)

This course focuses upon a molecular and immunological approach to study problems in modern medical research. The emphasis will be on novel approaches in medicine, including lymphocyte biology, cancer biology, and gene transfer. Prerequisites: BIBC 103, BIMM 100. Attendance at the first lecture/lab is required. Nonattendance will result in the student's being dropped from the course roster.

BIMM 118. Pharmacology (4)

Basics of pharmacology such as drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination. Concepts in toxicology and pharmacognosy are used to survey the major drug categories. Prerequisites: BIBC 100 or BIBC 102; BIPN 100.

Chemistry & Biochemistry

113/213. Physical Chemistry of Biological Macromolecules (4)

A discussion of the physical principles governing biological macromolecular structure and function, and the physicochemical experiments used to probe their structure and function. Chem. 213 students will be required to complete an additional paper and/or exam beyond that expected of students in Chem. 113. Prerequisites: Chem. 140C or 140CH; and Chem. 127 or 131 (113); or graduate standing (213).

118. Pharmacology and Toxicology (4)

A survey of the biochemical action of drugs and toxins as well as their absorption and excretion. Prerequisites: Chem. 140C or 140CH; and Chem. 114A and 114B, or consent of instructor. Priority will be given to Pharmacological Chemistry majors. (S)

143D. Molecular Design and Synthesis (4)

Advanced organic synthesis. Relationships between molecular structure and reactivity using modern synthetic methods and advanced instrumentation. Stresses importance of molecular design, optimized reaction conditions for development of practically useful synthesis, and problem-solving skills. Prerequisites: Chem. 140C and Chem. 143B. A materials fee is required for this course. (S)

155/255. Synthesis of Complex Molecules (4)

This course discusses planning economic routes for the synthesis of complex organic molecules. The uses of specific reagents and protecting groups will be outlined as well as the control of stereochemistry during a synthesis. Examples will be selected from the recent literature. Chem. 255 students will be required to complete an additional paper/exam. (May not be offered every year.) Prerequisite: Chem. 152 or 252 or consent of instructor.

157/257. Bioorganic and Natural Products Chemistry (4)

A comprehensive survey of modern bioorganic and natural products chemistry. Topics will include biosynthesis of natural products, molecular recognition, and small molecule-biomolecule interactions. For Chem. 257, students will be required to complete additional course work beyond that expected of students enrolled in Chem. 157. Prerequisite: Chem. 140C or 140CH (157); or graduate standing (257).

151. Molecules that Changed the World (4)

A look at some of nature's most intriguing molecules and the ability of man to discover, synthesize, modify, and use them. The role of chemistry in society, and how chemical synthesis—the art and science of constructing molecules—shapes our world. Prerequisite: Chem. 140A or equivalent.

185/285. Introduction to Computational Chemistry (4)

Course in computational methods building on a background in mathematics and physical chemistry. Brief introduction and background in computational theory, molecular mechanics, semi-empirical methods, and ab initio-based methods of increasing elaboration. Emphasis on applications and reliability. Chem. 285 students will be required to complete an additional assignment/exam beyond that expected of students in Chem. 185. Prerequisites: Chem. 126 or 133 and Math. 20C or 21C. (May not be offered every year.)

216. Chemical Biology (4)

A discussion of current topics in chemical biology including mechanistic aspects of enzymes and cofactors, use of modified enzymes to alter biochemical pathways, chemical intervention in cellular processes, and natural product discovery. Prerequisite: graduate standing or consent of instructor. (May not be offered every year.)

221. Signal Transduction (4)

The aim of this course is to develop an appreciation for a variety of topics in signal transduction. We will discuss several historical developments while the focus will be on current issues. Both experimental approaches and results will be included in our discussions. Topics may vary from year to year. Prerequisites: biochemistry and molecular biology. (May not be offered every year.)

246. Kinetics and Mechanism (4)

Methodology of mechanistic organic chemistry: integration of rate expressions, determination of rate constants, transition state theory; catalysis, kinetic orders, isotope effects, substituent effects, solvent effects, linear free energy relationship; product studies, stereochemistry; reactive intermediates; rapid reactions. (May not be offered every year.)

259. Special Topics in Organic Chemistry (2–4)

(Formerly Chem 249.) Various advanced topics in organic chemistry. Includes but is not limited to: advanced kinetics, advanced spectroscopy, computational chemistry, heterocyclic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, organotransition metal chemistry, polymers, solid-phase synthesis/combinatorial chemistry, stereochemistry, and total synthesis classics.

Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

204. Evolution of Modern Concepts in Pharmacology (2)

This course details the evolution of modern principles of pharmacology from first evidences to the present level of knowledge. The course will be independent of but compliment general principles of pharmacology courses for medical and graduate students. Prerequisite: prior or concurrent Principles of Pharmacology, or equivalent course.

228. Modern Drug Discovery Technologies (2)

Drug discovery is an emerging science available to academic investigators. This course provides an overview of these drug discovery techniques, including high through-put screening, cell-based screening, computational methods of lead compound discovery, and chemical methods of optimization. Prerequisite: Graduate student status or consent of graduate program director.

229. Methods in Pharmacology (3)

A combination of lecture and lab exercises presented by the faculty of the Group in Biomedical Sciences, designed to introduce biomedical science graduate students to the essential techniques employed in molecular and cellular pharmacology. Prerequisites: BMS 212, OP, CBB, biochemistry, molecular biology, biomedical sciences or consent of instructor. (S)

230. Structural and Quantitative Pharmacology (4)

This course is essentially biophysical pharmacology. Two-thirds will be didactic, covering protein structure, thermodynamic stability, receptor-ligand binding, enzyme kinetics, biophysical methods, visualization of structures/docking, mathematical analysis of data. The last section will involve student presentations of topics in biophysical pharmacology. Prerequisite: knowledge of graduate or undergraduate biochemistry is recommended.

234. Practical Histopathology and Mouse Models of Human Diseases (2)

The course is designed to introduce or reintroduce histology and histopathology of the various organ systems to those who need to analyze mouse tissues as an essential part of their research. Prerequisites: standard undergraduate biology courses.

235. Pharmacogenomics (3)

The pharmacogenetics course is designed to introduce graduate students, medical students, and pharmacy students to this emerging area of interest, indicting how hereditary mechanisms influence drug responses in humans. The lectures, examples, discussions, and journal presentations will provide the students with a working knowledge of the domains of pharmacology, how heredity influences any response traits, and the ways that advances in genome technologies support our emerging understanding of how polymorphic genetic variants determine inter-individual differences in drug responses. The course will include lectures, discussions, and journal article presentations by students. Prerequisite: admission to a UCSD graduate program, School of Medicine, or School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

255. Drugs and Disease (3)

Examines physiological and pathological basis for diseases by exploring normal and dysregulated molecular mechansisms controlling tissue and organ functions. Considers how alterations can be translated into therapeautic interventions and probe unexplored questions regarding human disease etiology and novel drug targets. Prerequisites: BIOM 200A-B, 201. Limited to BMS graduate students except by consent of instructor (BS 75, BS 77).

264. Molecular and Cellular Basis of Disease (2)

Lectures on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of pathogenesis. Topics will include Alzheimer's disease, cell surface and unclear receptors in disease, signal transduction by oncogenes in cancer cells, AIDS, human diseases affecting glycosylation pathways, rheumatoid arthritis, and arteriosclerosis. Prerequisite: graduate students. (W)

Clinical Research

CLRE 250. Patient-Oriented Research I (2)

This course will develop and apply the theory of clinical trials design and analysis, discuss the practical issues of financing and implementing clinical trials, and describe issues of monitoring trials and working in cooperative groups. The scholar will design and present to a group of peers a concept sheet for a phase I/II and phase II/III clinical trial.

CLRE 252. Health Services Research (2)

Scholars will evaluate relevant outcomes in patient-oriented research from the patient (quality of life) and societal (economic) perspectives and locate potential resources for assessing the relevant outcomes in a wide variety of study designs. They will also be able to describe the relative strengths of different health services research approaches to a clinical problem. Finally, they will understand the components of clinical practice guidelines, including patient preferences, and how these guidelines both depend upon as well as inform patient-oriented research.

CLRE 253. Biostatistics I (2)

Scholars will understand principles of measurement of clinical data, recognize data types, and correctly identify statistical methods appropriate for analysis of a given clinical data set. They will gain experience in assembling a clinical dataset in formats suitable for analysis by STATA or other comparable statistical packages. They will learn skills to conduct graphical and numerical exploratory data analysis, comparative tests of categorical, ordinal, and continuous data, linear and logistic regression analysis, and survival analysis by life table and Kaplan-Meier techniques.

CLRE 254. Biostatistics II (2)

Scholars will understand and conduct advanced biostatistical analyses including: multiple linear and logistic regression, survival analysis, and Cox and extended Cox regression. The scholar will also be familiar with person-time rate analysis with Poisson regression and longitudinal data analysis in the presence of missing values and varying measurement times. Prerequisites: Biostatistics I, CLRE 253.

CLRE 256. Patient-Oriented Research II (2)

This course will review the ethics and basic regulatory issues for research involving human subjects; the principles of data management for clinical research, including architecture, access and confidentiality, and integrity of databases; and skills in graphic and verbal presentation of research data. Scholars will prepare a mock submission to an IRB for peer review and practice presenting graphic and tabular data. Prerequisites: Patient-Oriented Research I, CLRE 250.


277. Neuropsychopharmacology (4)

An examination of the molecular and biochemical bases of drug and transmitter action. The course is devoted to receptor mechanisms, neuropharmacology, and drug action on excitable tissues. Prerequisite: graduate standing. (S)

285. Clinical Trails: Issues and Dilemmas in Clinical Trials (3)

This course provides a methodological perspective on clinical trials. Topics will include ethics, design of Phase I–IV trials, randomization/blinding, bias, and sample-size power. Lectures will also cover "application" with eminent UCSD trialists describing conduct, design, and statistical issues of specific studies. Prerequisites: medical or graduate student standing.


PATH 220. Drugs and Disease: Nervous System Disease and Therapy (4)

This course will explore the molecular pathology associated with various diseases other than cancer. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the abberant cellular processes, caused by mutation or environmental factors, that are associated with the disease state. Cardiovascular, neurological, immunological, and other diseases will be investigated.

PATH 228/PHAR 228/BIOM 228. Modern Drug Discovery Technologies (2)

Drug discovery is an emerging science available to academic investigators. This course provides an overview of these drug discovery techniques, including high through-put screening, cell-based screening, computational methods of lead compound discovery, and chemical methods of optimization. Prerequisite: graduate student status or consent of graduate program director.


172/272. Biophysics of Molecules (4-4)

Physical concepts and techniques used to study the structure and function of biological molecules, the thermodynamics and kinetics of biological activity, and physical descriptions of biological processes. Examples from enzyme action, protein folding, photobiology, and molecular motors. Three hours lecture. Prerequisites: Physics 100A and 110A, BILD 1, Chemistry 6C and Physics 130A; and graduate students, consent of instructor. The graduate version, Physics 272, will include a report at the level of a research proposal. (W)