Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal Chemistry structures

Medicinal Chemistry at the U of M

Department of Medicinal Chemistry Faculty work with diverse graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and researchers at the interface of Chemistry and Biology.  Learn more

Medicinal Chemistry is a dynamic, multifaceted scientific discipline that is dedicated to the improvement of human health through research leading to new concepts for the design and development of safe and effective therapeutic, diagnostic, and environmental agents. Research in Medicinal Chemistry involves the application of both chemical and biological principles to investigations between molecular structure and biological activity.

We Are Committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We aspire to create an atmosphere that welcomes and celebrates diversity, fosters learning, and promotes creativity and innovation, while encouraging understanding, integrity, equity, and justice. Learn more about the Med Chem DEI Task Force.

Learn More About Us

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Students receive diverse chemical and biological training to solve academic and industrial problems. Learn more about our PhD Graduate Program

Elizabeth Ambrose

Eminent Faculty

Our faculty solve problems at the interface of Chemistry and Biology.

Downtown Minneapolis

Diverse Campus

Learn more about how our culturally diverse metropolitan campus enhances our research. See graduate faculty research interests

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Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal Chemistry is a dynamic, multifaceted scientific discipline that is dedicated to the improvement of human health through research that leads to the design and development of safe and effective therapeutic, diagnostic, and environmental agents.

Read more about the department

Students working in lab

Research Areas

Biosafety/ biosecurity, cancer and neurological drug discovery, chemical neuroscience, chemoprevention and carcinogenesis, combinatorial biosynthesis, computer-aided drug design, drug metabolism, gene therapy, high-throughput screening, immunology, NMR, non-hormonal contraception, peptidomimetics and X-ray crystallography.

Read more about our research


A Researcher working in a lab

Institute for Therapeutics Discovery & Development

The ITDD carries out interdisciplinary research, helps educate the next generation of scientists, and enhances the biomedical research infrastructure by creating opportunities for drug discovery and early pre-clinical drug development.

Read more about the institute

A Researcher working in a lab

Research Facilities

Make use of the Department's over 50,000 square feet of modern research laboratory space located within the Academic Health Center and the Biomedical Discovery District.

Read more about our facilities

Faculty and Student Spotlights

Courtney Aldrich headshot

Faculty Spotlight:
Courtney Aldrich

Dr. Aldrich received a $3.8 million NIH grant for the project "Siderophore Inhibitors for Tuberculosis that Block Mycobactin Biosynthesis" on which he is the sole PI.  Also, his collaborative research was the focus of a LA times article.

Natalia Tretyakova headshot

Faculty Spotlight:
Natalia Tretyakova

Dr. Natalia Tretyakova has been named a Distinguished McKnight University Professor.

Gunda Georg headshot

Faculty Spotlight:
Gunda Georg

Dr. Gunda Georg’s research towards male contraceptives was featured on several broadcast news outlets including the front page of the Star Tribune.

Jian Tang headshot

Student Spotlight:
Jian Tang

Graduate student Jian Tang of the Harki Laboratory received a 2020-21 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.

Erik Faber headshot

Student Spotlight:
Erik Faber

Erik Faber was selected to receive the 2021 Abul-Hajj/Hanna Exceptional Graduate Student Award in Medicinal Chemistry.

Mission of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry

  • Education and training of scientists of the highest caliber
  • Providing future pharmacy practitioners with the basis for understanding the relationship between molecular structure and the therapeutic, dispositional, and toxicological aspects of drug action
  • Improvement of human health through chemical and biological research

PhD Graduate Program

A diverse education in chemistry and biology that prepares students for the evolving multidisciplinary research of the pharmaceutical industry and academia.

Learn more about PhD Graduate Program

Department News

Carston “Rick” Wagner

Over the past decades we have learned that cancer is a very complex disease. There are many forms of cancer arising from organ specific malignancies that can further metastasize to other organs. Tumors themselves are now recognized to not just be one type of cell but a community of many different types of cells, including many types of tumor cells. Key among these cells are what are being called cancer stem cell like cells or CSCs.

Michael A. Walters

High-throughput screening is a reliable method for discovering compounds that interact with novel therapeutic targets to improve human health. “Nuisance compounds” interfere with drug discovery by confounding screening results.

Courtney Aldrich

Mycobacterium abscessus is an opportunistic pathogen that causes severe lung infections, particularly in patients with underlying lung disorders such as cystic fibrosis or chronic pulmonary disease and is intrinsically resistant to most antibiotics. The high pH in the airway lumen environment serves as a natural barrier, in