BIOTECH 7001 - Drug Discovery and Development

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2024

Societies across the world are looking to combat a greater range of human diseases but at the same time contain spiralling healthcare costs. This, together with global competition and increasing regulatory standards, puts enormous pressure on the pharmaceutical industry to discover and develop a greater number of therapeutic candidates even faster and cheaper than ever before. This course develops the key themes in the drug discovery and development pipeline and highlights the multi-disciplinary nature of the research and development process. Topics include: Target identification and validation, Hit discovery, Hit-to-lead optimisation, pre-clinical and clinical testing, regulatory and manufacturing considerations.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code BIOTECH 7001
    Course Drug Discovery and Development
    Coordinating Unit Molec & Biomedical Science
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 4 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Assumed Knowledge BIOCHEM 2500 or equivalent
    Restrictions Available to Graduate Certificate & Graduate Diploma in Biotechnology (Biomedical), Master of Biotechnology (Biomedical), Master of Biotechnology (Biomedical) (Advanced) and Master of Biopharmaceutical Engineering students only
    Assessment Essay, written assignment, tests, and group presentation
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Kate Wegener

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    A successful student should be able to:

    1 Demonstrate an awareness of the current approaches to global drug discovery and their advantages and limitations.
    2 Demonstrate an understanding of the steps involved in the drug discovery and design process
    3 Demonstrate an awareness of the important contributions the different discipline areas make to the drug discovery and development process.
    4 Critically analyse biological pathways for their potential as drug targets for a given disease.
    5 Demonstrate the ability to use evidence-based approaches to guide decision making during the drug discovery and development process.
    6 Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of strict quality control and regulation in the drug development process, and an awareness of issues associated with the manufacturing of medicines such as good manufacturing practice.
    7 Critically analyse and integrate information from the scientific literature.
    8 Present to an audience in summary the critical evaluation of the scientific literature and experimental data
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.

    2, 3, 4, 7, 8

    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Molecular Graphics Software
    Access to the free molecular grpahics software "Chimera" is required for the drug design workshops
    Recommended Resources
    Course resources as provided including video/audio recording of lectures and copies of PowerPoint slides, as well as additional reading/recommended texts

    As specified during the course
    Scientific literature and journal articles
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be delivered by the following means:
    1 or 2  x 1 hour lectures per week
    1 x 2 hour workshop/tutorial per week


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Contact Hours (45 hours)
    Lectures 18 x 1 = 18 hours
    Workshops 12 x 2 = 24 hours
    Exam 1 x 3 hours = 3 hours

    Non-contact Hours (110 hours)
    Weekly reading/other study hours per lecture = 36 hours
    Preparation for workshops 2 hour per week = 24 hours
    Preparation for presentations = 6 hours
    Major essay = 20 hours
    Exam preparation= 24 hours

    Total = approximately 155 hours
    Learning Activities Summary
    The topics covered in the course and supported by online resources are as follows:
    • Introduction to drug discovery and target product profiles
    • High throughput screening methods.
    • Medicinal chemistry
    • Pharmacology and ADME toxicology
    • Clinical Trials
    • Fragment- and Structure-based Drug Design
    • Biological therapeutics
    • Case studies in drug discovery.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Due Weighting Learning Outcome
    Quizzes Formative and Summative


    5% 1-6
    Target Product Profile Presentation Formative and Summative

    Week 6

     15% 1-8
    Written Assignment Formative and Summative Week 10 25% 4,7
    Drug Design Workshop Portfolio Formative and Summative Week 13 15% 1-3,5
    Mid-Semester theory test Summative Week 7 20% 1-6
    End of semester theory test Summative Week 13 20% 1-6
    Assessment Detail
    Quiz (5%) - A short quiz testing the students on what they have learned from the first series of lectures.

    Target Product Profile Presentation (15%) - This is a group assignment where a small group of students (4-6) investigates the drug discovery opportunities for a particular disease and develop a plan for how they would produce a therapeutic for treatment. The group presents their findings as an oral presentation.

    Essay (25%) - In this individual assignment, students select a current drug discovery publication (from a provided selection) and write an essay discussing where and how the research fits into the drug discovery pipeline.

    Drug Design Workshop Portfolio (15%) - In the workshops, students learn how to visualise and manipulate protein structures, as well as the basics of in silico molecular docking, using simple software on their own devices. Students then complete an online assignment, providing details about how they completed each step of the procedure and what they learned.

    End of Semester Theory Exam (40%) - Students complete a three-hour exam on the theoretical concepts they have learned in lectures, as well as the application of this knowledge to the analysis of a provided research paper.

    Late Submission
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
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