Spring 2024 - CHEM 459 E100

Special Topics in Organic Chemistry (3)

Modern Medicinal Chemistry

Class Number: 1687

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Mon, Wed, 4:30–6:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2024
    Wed, 7:00–10:00 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    CHEM 380 with a minimum grade of C-, or permission of the instructor.



An advanced, in-depth treatment of a specialized area of organic chemistry.


Please note, this course outline was accurate at the time of publication but is subject to change.

Mode of Teaching:
3 lecture hours/week
Lecture: In-person at Burnaby campus

With lectures of 1.5 hours twice a week, the course will attempt to introduce students to the real world of drug discovery and the pivotal role that medicinal chemistry plays in the process. The course will be a mixture of theoretical background and real world illustrative examples. There will be a number of guest lectures from practicing medicinal chemists who will provide case histories of programs of drug discovery. All students will be expected to select an area of published research in medicinal chemistry and to prepare a written review synopsis of the field generally with particular emphasis on a key discovery paper or drug. Post-graduate students will be expected to also present their synopsis orally in one of two sessions during the course, either just after the midterm break an exam or in the last week at the end of the course. Reports should be comprehensive but concise with maximum of 5 pages (plus figures and references). Presentations should be 15 minutes and with 5 minutes for questions. Presentation times will be adjusted depending on enrollment.

Outline: Topics
1. Introduction:
1.1 What is a drug? A drug target; some history of drug discovery; natural products; selection of assignments
1.2 Elements of Drug Discovery: Models of disease; Reverse Pharmacology;
1.3 History of anti-inflammatories; Clinic to Models to genes.

2. Target Identification
2.1 Methods of identification and validation of Drug targets; genetic analysis; knockout mice, antisense and siRNA.
2.2 Affinity labeling; 2.3 Other drug targets: Ion channels; Transporters as Drug targets;

3 Lead Discovery:
3.1 Screening; assay design; high throughput screening;
3.2 Lead Modification: Pharmacophores; Bioisosteres; Libraries; SAR; QSAR; Combinatorial Chemistry.
3.3 Lead Modification: Binding Phenomena; Peptides to Peptoids; Conformational restriction

4. Receptors as targets for Drug discovery:
4.1 What are receptors and what do they do? Signal transduction; receptor kinetics; agonists and antagonists; receptor reserve; receptor substypes; opioids; prostaglandins;
4.2 Discovery of SingulairTM; an antagonist of the Leukotriene D4 receptor

5. Enzymes as Drug Targets:
5.1 Types of enzymes and types of inhibitors; mechanism based; irreversible; reversible; allosteric
5.2 Story of inhibitors of 5-lipoxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase activating factor.
5.3 Story of Inhibitors of Proteases such as Cathepsin K and Januvia

6 Pharmacokinetics, Distribution, Drug Metabolism and Toxicity:
6.1 Types of metabolism; primary and secondary; sites of metabolism
6.2 Issues of metabolism on drug viability, inter-individual variability, toxicity
6.3 Animal models and prediction of human kinetics; Oral absorption; Modeling pharmacokinetics
6.4 Prodrugs; enhanced absorption; tissue targeting
6.5 Transporters and biodistribution; The blood-brain-barrier.
6.6 Drug-drug interactions

7. The future of drug discovery
7.1 Personalized medicine
7.2 Targeted delivery
7.3 siRNA and micro RNA

Assignments: Students will pick a topic from a list provided or may suggest a topic on their own to be approved in advance by Prof. Young. Presentation dates may be chosen but if necessary will be assigned. Presentations must be posted to the course website before they are due or presented to the class and will be possible subject matter for the final exam.

Combined graduate course: CHEM 759 - Special Topics in Organic Chemistry (3)


  • Midterm Exam 20%
  • Final Exam 40%
  • Report Presentation 20%
  • Written Report 20%



Richard B. Silverman. The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action. 3rd Edition. 2014. Publisher: Academic Press.

Available free from the SFU Library: https://sfu-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/1u29dis/TN_cdi_askewsholts_vlebooks_9780123820310

Relevant Journals: Students should also read relevant journals available online. Presentations may be selected from the supplied list or from the journals.

  • Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0960894X)
  • Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09680896)
  • Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (http://pubs.acs/lournals/jmcmar/index.html)
  • European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/02235234)
  • Nature Reviews in Drug Discovery (http://www.nature.com/nrd/index.html)


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

A grade of C- or better is required for all prerequisite courses.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html