This is the transcript for the video Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry – Course Info

Hello and welcome to our video on chemistry and medicinal chemistry here at UTS. My name is Tristan Rawling I’m a senior lecturer at UTS and I am the program director for medicinal chemistry.

My name is Paul Thomas. I’m also a senior lecturer at UTS and I am the program director for the chemistry major of the Bachelor of Science degree.

So in this session, we’re going to have a little introduction then we’re going to talk about, why UTS? So why study UTS? We’ll talk about the unique features of UTS and why it’s such an excellent place to learn and study. Then we’re going to talk about the two degrees, the chemistry, the medicinal chemistry degrees. We’ll talk about basically what chemistry, medicinal chemistry are about, the structure of our degrees and the subjects that you would do and how we teach them. Then, of course, we talk about career opportunities, where our employees go after their degrees and then how to apply. So, Paul.

Thanks Tristian, so basically we’re the University of Technology and so you would expect that the way that we teach is through technical skills. We will give you some real world skills from real world experiences. And the idea is, is that we’ll provide these in our laboratories using state of the art instrumentation, which you’ll find in research labs around the country and in industrial labs, R&D labs, development labs, and so on. You’ll learn from the best because we’re all researchers, we’re all experienced practitioners in our field, we’re experts in our field, and we incorporate the research that we do into undergraduate programs. You always get a feel for what we do in each of our undergraduate programs. We have world class facilities, we have specialised laboratories, we have large state of the art super labs for undergraduate teaching and all of our chemistry laboratories. So from second year onwards, you will have access to research grade facilities. And of course, there are plenty more facilities, including all the state of the art learning facilities, state of the art learning facilities that are available at UTS. We’re industry connected, we’re University of Technology, so you’d expect us to be industry connected. Most of our research is in collaboration with industry partners, and that also means that our research has significant impact. It’s applied research. It has real world applications, and so it has significant impact and we bring that impact back to our undergraduate courses. So what are our degrees? Well, in chemistry, we do two degree courses, we have the chemistry major as part of the Bachelor of Science, the Bachelor of Science being a generic degree course, where when you do a major, it provides you with a specific study plan, which will go through in a minute.

And the second chemistry course is, the medicinal chemistry course, which is a name, degree, course. So it has a much more fixed structure because essentially it has components from, it’s an interdisciplinary area and it has components from both life science and chemistry, which must be incorporated in the degree course. We will go through the structure of that in a few minutes.

So I guess the first question is we should ask, why chemistry? Well, chemistry is one of what we might call the enabling sciences. It’s basically a pivotal, it’s a pivot science, which gives you the opportunity to work in almost any area. And the examples I’ve got here are from an engineering type area where it’s really important to understand the materials chemistry if you’re trying to develop a sustainable building, construction materials. And the only way to do that to optimise these materials is to understand the chemical processes and the students you can see working in these images, are chemistry students studying the chemistry of the processes that are involved in these engineering, these engineering pictures. Of course, they collaborate with engineers and that’s because chemistry is part of an interdisciplinary series of fields. In the lower examples, we have a cultural heritage example where we’re looking at conserving rock art sites in Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory. We take microscopic samples, we bring them down to laboratories and in this case, the microscopic samples were taken to Melbourne, where the synchrotron is situated. And the PhD student who was a chemistry undergraduate and is doing a chemistry PhD is doing analysis on those samples. So chemistry has a fundamental role to play and you could be a part of changing the world by being a chemist. So what is chemistry? Chemistry is an enabling science that links with all the sciences around it, from life sciences to the physical sciences or to physics, chemistry, of course, is a physical science, to engineering. And I’ve got some examples here on the bottom right hand corner we have, again, it’s a cultural heritage example. In this case, it’s the pigments on bark paintings of PNG, artefacts. We were looking at the white pigment and there was splatters of the white pigment across the artefact. So we started to investigate those. And it turned out by doing the investigation that these white splatters were actually bullet proof. So it helped to advance the understanding of this particular artifact and we were misdirected by identifying the white splatters. These flashes of colour here are due to the structure of the opal. So this got this macro structure where we’ve got these spheres which are about the right size to diffract visible light.

This is an SEM image where we’ve used hydrofluoric acid, which is a pretty nasty material, to etch the structure out. If you don’t use hydrofluoric acid, you don’t see all these spheres and hydrofluoric acid is the only material you can do it with. But you can see that there’s an order structure which if you do some diffraction, this is a small angle X-ray diffraction, which was done in the synchrotron in Melbourne. And up here is a neutron diffraction, which is done at ANSTO at Lucas Heights in Sydney. And they all show this characteristic, what this characteristic structure is from these images, we can work out the structure of how these spheres of silica are packed together. So until that application of chemistry with chemistry, which is all linked to physics, so there’s a transdisciplinary approach to research there. Then on the left hand side, in the left hand corner, bottom left corner we’ve got an example from one of our undergraduate subjects. This is a subject called molecular nanotechnology, where the experiment is to make an organic light emitting diode, an organic LED. You make it and then you fabricate the diode itself. And here you can see a student is demonstrating the technology of light emitting diode. So this is a link between chemistry and engineering technology. So chemistry has a relationship with many other fields and it’s an important component of any new development is an interdisciplinary interaction between a variety of people and chemists are an important part of that interaction.

So that’s an example of why chemistry and what we do with chemistry. So this is a basic description of the course. In first year you get a solid foundation, a solid general foundation, so you do a bit of chemistry, a bit of mathematics, a bit of physics, and there’s also some generic skills put in. Writing, scientific writing, precision and accuracy, those sorts of ideas. When you come to second year you do more specific chemistry courses, more detailed chemistry courses, so we separate up the different fields. So you do a few courses in organic chemistry, physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry. And we also take you through professional skills, which are specifically associated with chemistry and its practitioners and its practice. In the third year, we’re going to take it into a little bit more detail. Do a little bit more inorganic chemistry and then you have a choice of which stream of advancement you want to take. You want to do a bit more analytical chemistry, a bit of physical chemistry in the form of surface chemistry or some more organic chemistry. And then finally, once you’ve finished, your undergraduate program, at the end of year three, you have the option to do an Honours year and that Honours year is a research project in an area that you’re interested in. And this is, you have a single supervisor. So it’s basically a one on one research practice oriented program where you will study alongside in collaboration with a researcher and you do a research project with the facilities available in the laboratories at UTS.

Here is a brief description of the study plan you can find the study plan in the UTS Handbook and in the UTS website. Essentially, it demonstrates that in the first year you do chemistry with the two subjects in chemistry, you do some mathematics due two subjects in mathematics. You do a bit of physics, again two subjects. You know, this subject called principal scientific practice, which is a generic skills subject. And then there’s an elective block which you can choose to do a life, science subject, a biology type subject or a more physical science type subject. In second year, you can say that there’s organic chemistry, physical chemistry and analytical chemistry and inorganic chemistry and some professional skills. And then we take that through to third year where you do a completely inorganic chemistry course and then you have that elective choice of subjects and you decide whether you want to do some more physical science, some more physical chemistry type subjects or some more organic chemistry type subjects. One thing you’ll notice at the end of the third year, there are four electives. Now, these four electives are free electives. What that means is that you can choose any subject that you want to do and it can be any subject across the university. It can be even subjects outside UTS, it could be subjects at UNSW or University of Sydney, for example, if it is outside, the university has to be accredited.

And there’s an approval process, of course, but you could also use these four electives as internships in industry so you can do a semester in industry and use academic credit for that internship so it can be part of your undergraduate course. Or alternatively, you can use that for a study abroad semester so you can go overseas and study and use those electives as part of your courses as well. So that’s a brief description of the chemistry major of the Bachelor of Science. I’m sorry, I’ve got another step to go. What can you do? Well, of course, there’s a variety of things you can do with a chemistry degree. I just want to point out that we don’t only use test tubes. Here’s a student who is doing some autoclaving of some calcium silicate materials. So we do a variety of experiments in a variety of ways. And this is mirrored by the industry. So as a chemist, you cannot be a research scientist or technical consultant or advisor, and you can apply that in an industry, in industrial chemistry so manufacturing chemicals in the materials or mining technology industries, in agriculture and food chemistry, analytical, environmental chemistry, pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, of course, and occupational health and safety and education. And I’d just like to point out a couple of chemists who have taken a different, have chosen a different path for themselves, and they’ve achieved the position of Prime Minister, which was a very well known Prime Minister in the UK, Margaret Thatcher in the 80s was a chemistry graduate. And you may be more familiar with Angela Merkel, who is the current chancellor in Germany. She has a PhD in quantum chemistry. So what that means is that chemistry can take you in many, many different directions. It gives you opportunities as far as the industries go, so we’re talking about materials, mining, petroleum, agriculture, pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics, environmental conservation, academic governance, research, patent law, financial. The list is endless, of course, and we’re diverting away from specific science type science and engineering type opportunities, because towards the end, that because a chemistry degree provides you with a lot of generic skills. There are a number of companies in Australia where you can get employment from the chemical companies, Nufarm and Orica and Quizno’s. Johnson Johnson is a pharmaceutical company, Boral Cement, Australia’s cement companies, BHP, Rio Tinto, mining companies. And there are a few other examples. Fonterra is a food company and Polders is the new name for Caltex. So there’s a variety of opportunities within Australia as well for chemists. And all of these companies employ chemists and employ chemists from UTS. There are also research institutes, CSIRO, ANSTO and of course, our universities and there are also regulatory authorities. So, now, I think I can pass over to this to Tristian.

So, medicinal chemistry that’s the degree we’re talking about. Medicinal chemistry is all about drugs. So when you think of drugs, you know, obviously you’ll think of pharmaceutical drugs, but a drug can be anything. It could be an illicit drug because of a toxin from a snake or spider. They’re all drugs. So to a medicinal chemist, a drug is a chemical entity that can elicit a biological response. And so the way drugs do this is they interact with proteins or DNA or some part in the cell, that causes of the behaviour of that cell to change and you see a response from the drug. And so the medicinal chemistry subject covers all of these topics, and because of that, it’s a it’s a multidisciplinary subject. So as shown in the central graphic medicinal chemistry incorporates chemistry, biology and pharmacology. So pharmacology is a study of how your body, how your body treats a drug, what happens to a drug when it’s in your body. So usually in a typical drug discovery program, you would start by synthesising molecules. So here is just some structures of some different drug-like molecules that we’ve made. So we go and make those drugs, so chemistry is a core part, obviously, of medicinal chemistry, but then we need to know whether our drugs work, whether they do anything. So we have to test them. This is where the biological angle comes in. So in my research, I’m interested in making anti-cancer drugs. So we will synthesise the molecules in the lab and then we go and test how will they’ll kill cancer cells so we can also grow cancer cells in the lab.

We grow them in petri dishes. So this is what cancer, these are breast cancer cells. This is what they look like when we grow them in the lab. You can see the outlines of them. They adhere to the bottom of the culture dish and they spread themselves out. So they’re nice healthy cells. Then we go and treat them with our drug and we watch what happens to the cells to see if they’ve had an effect. So these are some images I’ve taken from my research, so these are cancer cells, the same breast cancer cells that we’ve treated with our drug. And as you can see, they’ve started to round up and that’s a sign of them dying. So that’s good for us. That means we’ve made a molecule that kills cancer cells, but there’s one other trick with making a drug. It has to not kill the host, which is something Donald Trump learned when he suggested injecting bleach to treat COVID. So this is where the pharmacology part comes in. So once we’ve designed a drug that looks pretty good, we need to see how it interacts with the human body. We want our cancer drug to kill cancer cells and not the non-cancerous cells. So this is where we look at pharmacology. We look at how the, what happens to the drug in the body, how it’s metabolised. Is it toxic? How is it toxic? How is it excreted? How is it distributed to all the organs in the body? All those aspects, so they are all the core skills a medicinal chemist needs to conduct drug development research, and this is what you’ll learn in the degree.

So if I just go through this quickly, this is the basic outline of medicinal. So year one you get a sort of a solid foundation in chemistry, mathematics and biology. You also get one elective, then in second year, we really hone in our skills on chemistry, so organic chemistry, physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry as well as analytical chemistry, and then we get into our medicinal chemistry. Specific subjects are drug development. We also have in middle, in second year, some biology based subjects, because, again, we need to learn how the body works. Then in third year, we get into the very advanced subjects so as well, so advanced biology, biology subjects, pharmacology, strategies and drug synthesis. And like the chemistry degree we also have at the end of the fourth year, if you have a credit average, you have the option to do Honours research project. So same as the chemistry as Paul described, it’s one on one you working with a supervisor to undertake a small research project, and that’s how you sort of get to see whether you’re interested in research. And then who knows from there, maybe PhD. So the study plan for the medicinal chemistry degree is laid out like this. So, as I was saying before, in the first year you do your basic chemistry subjects, chemistry one, chemistry two, cell biology and genetics, where you start to learn the basics of cell function, then, as I was saying, second year, some more in-depth chemistry and third year, those really advanced subjects.

And we also have three electives at the end of the degree and you can do any electives you want. I guess it’s important to point out you don’t necessarily have to structure your degree like this. You can move the order of the subjects around or how many subjects you do per semester. But that’s something you can talk to your program director about before you can change the order too much. So what do  medicinal chemist graduates do? So we have drug development obviously is the most obvious job for medicinal chemists, so working in a pharmaceutical company trying to develop drugs. There’s also research scientist, technical sciences and advisors or analytical chemists and organic chemists. So the medicinal chemistry degree, although we do touch on pharmacology and in biology, it’s a very chemistry orientated degree. And you get all the skills you need out of that degree to take on jobs that a chemist would do. So the analytical chemist and things like that. You know, there’s other jobs like laboratory and quality control and also importantly for the medicinal chemistry degree. It’s also a pathway into a few other courses. So UTS offers a Master of Pharmacy degree. So that’s a master’s degree. So that’s a two year program where at the end of it, you can, you would be a licensed pharmacist.

So to do the master of pharmacy, you have to do a certain mixture of subjects. And we do that in the medicinal chemistry degree so that, if pharmacy is something that interests you, you can complete your medicinal chemistry degree and go into master pharmacy. And another option, again, at UTS is we have a master of intellectual property. So if you combine that with the medicinal chemistry degree, you’d be on track to becoming a patent attorney, which is an excellent employment opportunity. So who employs our graduates? We’ve got graduates working in pharmaceutical companies right now in Australia. So there’s Pfizer, they have an AstraZeneca in Australia. They’re the international pharmaceutical companies. We have small Australian pharmaceutical companies, including Pharmaxis here in Sydney. Then, of course, there’s the research institutes. So as well as working at universities in academic research, there’s CSIRO, WEHI, Garvan Institute, those medical type of research institutes and government regulatory authorities. So what’s it like, so what does the week look like for a typical science student or chemistry student? So we deliver our subjects through a mixture of on campus lectures and tutorials as well as labs. So labs are a big part of all our degrees. From the very first you step in, every subject will have a lab component to it where you will come into the labs for three hours and do some hands on chemistry. So typically a week for a typical student doing four subjects a semester will be about 30 hours of activities per week.

Third, I’d say 30. So the idea is for four subjects, five hours of contact per week would be normal process. And then you should be doing at least five hours of work at home for each of those hours of contact. So you’re talking about.

Yes. So for every subject you have about every subject has about two or three hours of lectures and prac.

And also, so that covers the regular subjects. We also, something that’s a nice feature of UTS, we offer science internships. So this is where you saw those elective blocks in your in the study plans, you can use those electives to do an internship. So this is like a mini research project or an internship. You can do that with academics here in UTS, where you work with some of our students on a research project. Or you could take those internships, in an external company, if you can find someone who will sponsor you. But that’s part of the credit point mix, so that’s another option as well.

There are a reasonable number of levels of the internship. So you can take anything from a six point internship, up to twenty four credit point internship. And the twenty four credit points, of course, takes up for your full four electives, whereas a six point internship takes only one of your electives. You can do research projects, which is scaled all the way from six credit points to twenty four credit points. The twenty four credit point internships tend to be carried out outside of the university. So as industrial training places, what you need to do is, if you’re interested in doing a research internship or an industrial training internship, you need to contact your program director. So that would be either Tristian or myself and will point you in the right direction, we’ll give you the websites for enrolling in those subjects, because there is not a direct entry into the internship program. There are some other external opportunities as well. There’s the Beyond UTS, the leadership program, a BUILD program that will also be explained to you by other groups when you come to UTS I think the one other point to point out there, is that when you come to UTS, well, a lot of it’s about doing your study, but there’s also the opportunity to socialise and interact with your peers. And there are a number of ways of doing that. One of those is through the Science Society. So that’s the UTS Society and the UTS Medical and Health Society, where you meet other people from the Faculty of Science, doing other courses and doing social activities from quizzes in the pub through to invited lectures on topics of current interest. Also, don’t forget that UTS has a vibrant sports community and there are a variety of other clubs which you can join through ActivateUTS.

So thank you very much for watching. You can email us at or follow us on our socials, you won’t find us there. But yes, we hopefully will get to speak to you at the live Q&A on September one, although I hope to see you at the start of semester of 2012.

And I will just add one final point. And that is, don’t forget that the UTS handbook is a very useful resource for letting you know what the courses, what constituent, what subjects you need to do in each of our courses. So with that. Thank you.

All right. Thank you all. Bye bye.