Curriculum & Course Descriptions


BS3013 Drug discovery & development, biotechnology

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor LIU Chuan-Fa (email:

Academic Unit: 3 AU

Availability: Semester 2

Pre-requisite: BS2004

Course Type: BS-Major-PE, BMS-Major-PE

Language of instruction: English

Teaching hours: Lectures: 24 hours; Projects: 12 hours

Learning Objective: This course is designed to tackle one of the most important issues in healthcare – the discovery and development of safe and effective drugs against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders and viral infections as well as for disease prevention and health improvement. It aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills that are in great need in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.

Content: This is an interdisciplinary course module, combining chemistry with biology and pharmacology and dealing with both small-molecule drugs and biologics.  It covers the basic concepts and principles of the three phases of drug action (pharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics), the techniques and methods used in drug discovery and development (target identification and validation, lead discovery and optimization, preclinical and clinical trials), and specific topics on drugs acting on different classes of drug targets.

Learning Outcome: Students are expected to understand the mechanisms underlying the action of a drug in the body and master the principles and concepts of the various methods that are used in drug discovery and development. Students should be able to predict the “druggability” of a novel target based on its implications in a disease pathway and assess a novel molecule’s druggability by analyzing its ADMET properties. Students should know, for example, the rationales behind each of the Lipinski’s rules from the pharmaceutical, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic perspectives. In particular, as biological science-majored students, they should also know the currently used technologies for and major issues in the development of protein-based drugs. At the end of the study of this course, students will have the knowhow and essential skill-sets to work effectively on a drug discovery project should they be employed by a pharmaceutical or biotech company.


  • Thomas L. Lemke, David A. Williams, Victor F. Roche, and S. William Zito, “Foye's Principles of Medicinal Chemistry”, 6th edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2008
  • Povl Krogsgaard-Larsen, Kristian Stromgaard, and Ulf Madsen, “Textbook of drug design and discovery”, 4th Edition CRC 2009

*Prerequisites for Incoming Exchange Students: Equivalent of Year 2 or Higher Biology or Biotechnology Major