Track II: Drug Development

There is continuous development of new chemical substances that act effectively on their targets, such as brain receptors. However, most of them are useless as drugs because they will never reach their target in the organism. They may be degraded or metabolized too quickly, or they cannot penetrate biological barriers and reach the tissue they need to affect, such as brain tissue.

Here is where pharmacy comes into the picture. When pharmaceutical scientists know the chemistry of substances, how they interact with the body, how they are metabolized and eliminated, they can develop drugs that release the right amount of active substance at the right point in the right place in the body. Advanced analytical chemistry is an integral part of drug development work.

Professional profiles

The Drug Development track provides the opportunity for various professional profiles, such as:

1. Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery

Within pharmaceutics and drug delivery you focus on the development of the drug formulation. Many drug substances cannot be absorbed directly in the body. Others are absorbed, in a therapeutic context, in the wrong places and therefore have no effect or perhaps even a harmful effect. Here is where formulation experts enter the picture with their knowledge about relevant drug formulations, their understanding of drug chemistry and their knowledge about how the body absorbs different substances. Interdisciplinary work involves the areas of chemistry, physiology and pharmacology in order to find a formulation – a composition – that can put the substance on the right track in the organism. 

Examples of electives:

2. Biopharmaceuticals

The active ingredient in biopharmaceuticals is in general a biological macromolecule and imitation of endogenous compounds with high activity and specificity combined with low toxicity. Macromolecules have distinct physical and physicochemical properties compared to small molecules. Hence, understanding the pharmaceutical development of biopharmaceuticals requires specific skills and a different way of thinking. Do you want to learn how biopharmaceuticals are formulated as solutions, suspensions and freeze thawed preparations? In this profile you will also gain insights into new promising ways to administer these drugs non-parenterally. Moreover, hands-on experience on how to produce, analyse, identify, handle and work with proteins in the correct way is in focus.

Examples of electives:

3. Drug Metabolism and Pharmaceutical Analytical Chemistry

You focus on investigating how the active substance is released from the drug, absorbed and distributed in the body, and how it is eliminated. Very rapid elimination or conversion to metabolites can mean that a potential drug must be abandoned in the development process. Detailed knowledge of metabolism and metabolites is a prerequisite for optimizing the properties of the drug and selecting the ideal formulation. Investigations are most often done by determining metabolites in biological material such as blood, serum or urine samples from animals and humans. This detective work requires advanced analytical chemical techniques able to separate and identify the metabolites. 

Examples of electives:

Study plan

Year 1 Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4
Drug Discovery and Development Pharmaceutics and Drug Development Pharmaceutical Analytical Chemistry Research Project in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery
Principles of Pharmacology Medicinal and Biostructural Chemistry Elective Course
Year 2 Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4
Elective Course Elective Course Master Thesis

Course information

University of Copenhagen course catalogue - MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences