Book on the History of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry

Book on the History of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minnesota: From Digitalis to Ziagen

The book, From Digitalis to Ziagen, covers the history of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry.

Authored by Professor Yusuf Abul-Hajj and Richard Broderick, the book covers everything from the establishment of the College of Pharmacy and the department, to profiles of notable faculty members and the leadership role the department and its faculty played in drug development.

Abul-Hajj has long had an interest in writing a comprehensive history of Medicinal Chemistry beginning with the founding of the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy in 1892 until today.

"The period of time covered in this book — 1892 to 2012 — represents the most revolutionary era in the history of the entire discipline of medicinal chemistry, witnessing the transformation of the field from an artisanal, trial-and-error approach to isolating and testing therapeutic elements in natural elements to today’s high-tech, computer-assisted discovery and design of new, targeted drugs.

Abul-Hajj said, "Since its founding in 1892, the department has mirrored the breathtaking changes that have taken place in the analysis, discovery, and — increasingly — the design of effective drugs for the treatment of some of humanity’s most deadly and crippling disorders. And it has more than mirrored those changes, in many cases, playing a critical role effecting those changes."

More Information

If you would like to learn more about From Digitalis to Ziagen, contact Abul-Hajj at

Dr. Abul-Hajj
University of Minnesota
Department of Medicinal Chemistry
8-101 Weaver Densford Hall
308 Harvard Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Medicinal Plant Garden Played Major Role

The medicinal plant garden played a major role in the early days of the department. 

students planting medinical garden

Students did most of the work of indoor and outdoor planting, harvesting, garbling, drying, milling, assaying, and converting plant parts into medicinal preparations.

Greenhouse interior of the department

Greenhouse interior showing a variety of medicinal plants ready to be transplanted outdoors.