A Multidisciplinary Team-Based Classroom Exercise for Small Molecule Drug Discovery

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Industrial drug discovery teams encompass scientists from multiple specialties and require participants to communicate effectively across disciplinary boundaries. In this paper, we present an undergraduate or graduate classroom simulation of this environment. Over a series of five workshops, student teams of mixed scientific backgrounds perform five iterations of the chemistry cycle of small molecule drug discovery. Students analyze physicochemical, structural, and (fictional) assay data and use these to design new compounds for testing. Simulated assay results are returned to students who use the information in the design of subsequent compounds. After workshop 5, each team selects a single lead compound, supported by a potential synthetic route, a portfolio of assay data, and logical scientific decision-making. Our exercise provides students with opportunities for hands-on student-responsive data handing, team-building, and technical knowledge acquisition─all within an industrially relevant scientific scenario.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3320–3332
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number9
Early online date1 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding: The work in this paper was funded by the University of Bath and a CC-BY license is applied to the version of record arising from this submission.


  • Biochemistry
  • Decision Making
  • Drug Discovery
  • Drugs
  • Graduate Education/Research
  • Hands-On Learning
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Problem Solving
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Education


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