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PhD in Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry

Chemical biology and medicinal chemistry is a dynamic, multifaceted graduate program of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. CBMC is dedicated to improving human health through research leading to new concepts for the design and development of therapeutic and diagnostic agents.

The CBMC graduate program seamlessly blends chemistry and biology, which distinguishes it from traditional graduate programs. We develop and exploit novel chemical tools relevant to the fields of biochemistry, biology, pharmacology, and medicine. Research in CBMC is directed toward biomedical and pharmaceutical discovery by applying both chemical and biological principles to interactions between molecular structure and biological activity.

Our program’s degree recipients are well prepared for scientific careers in academia, industry, government, and research institutes. All of our graduates have been successful in finding desirable positions. An important measure of the success of our program is whether students are obtaining their first-choice postdoctoral positions. To a large extent, our recent graduates are receiving multiple offers from top labs. Our recent graduates have taken postdoctoral positions in prestigious labs at Harvard, Duke, Scripps, and MIT, to name a few.

Historically, the majority of our graduates have taken positions in the pharmaceutical industry. In recent years, as the pharmaceutical industry has changed and biotech and biopharma companies have emerged, there has been a growing demand for our graduates in the latter. In addition, our graduates are increasingly considering careers in academia.

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  • Generally, each student takes seven courses. Each of these courses emphasizes concepts, unsolved (or partially solved) problems and novel technology along with an understanding how and why chemical approaches can drive new experiments and deliver novel insight. Didactic coursework facilitates both breadth and depth in each student’s fund of knowledge. The course breakdown:
    • Three courses in medicinal chemistry (one of which emphasizes molecular modeling)
    • One course in pharmacology
    • One course in organic chemistry
    • Two electives in the student’s area of specialization
  • There are a series of monthly examinations on current research topics from the literature. These exams are designed to help students initiate the process of self-education and to encourage them to read the current literature.
  • Students participate in two one-semester laboratory rotations to help learn techniques and find a mentor and research home.
  • Each student has the opportunity to present three seminars to the faculty and students and to prepare a written research proposal (in the NIH postdoctoral fellowship-style) to help develop her or his communication skills.
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You can begin your graduate studies in biological or biomedical sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill without initially committing to a specific program through the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program. Within the School, this option is available to students interested in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry or the Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics.

Learn more about BBSP at UNC

Our application information includes instructions on applying through the BBSP.