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Pharmacology Vs. Medicinal Chemistry

Discussion in 'Pre-Pharmacy' started by Nocturne87, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. Nocturne87

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    Hey Guys,

    I'm new to this site and looking for some information. I am graduating with a B.S. in chemistry, minor in biology, next may and looking to apply to graduate schools in the fall for a PhD program in either pharmacology or medicinal chemistry. I'll first start with a little bit of my back round. As a chemistry student I really enjoyed most of my classes, in particular, I was very good at organic chemistry ( scored 95th percentile on the ASC exam), and I have a 4.0.. I already took physical chemistry I, II, and graduate level physical chemistry III (quantum). I also loved biology, I was genuinely interested in all the subject material. Anyway, I am really undecided about whether to study pharmacology or medicinal chemistry. I know I would really enjoy the synthetic organic chemistry of medicinal, and the drug/biological interactions of pharmacology. Is there a big difference in the job market and demand between the two? Is there a big difference in the average salary between the two? If i wanted to study med. chem. what kind of program would i be looking for? Would this program be under a chemistry PhD program, or a pharmacy PhD program? Does anyone know of any really good programs they could point me to? Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Dan
     
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  3. DrDrugs2012

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    Well, in my educated opinion, small-molecule chemistry is going the way of the dodo. The future of drug research is in more targeted therapies - biologics. So I would veer more towards proteins and antibodies than pure organic chemistry. A lot of the early stage research in this area is now done with computer modeling software, not benchtop. So if you're looking for the future, look for programs with those attributes.

    Coming out with a PhDs is entirely about who your mentor was and what sort of contacts can you leverage out of them. Age old problem, its not what you know, its who you know. So the key is to find the right mentor for you.

    As for how to find programs, two ways to go about it. Hopefully, anyone interested in a graduate program of any sort should be reading professional journals in their field. Read journals, if you find something interesting, look up the authors' other papers. If you're really interested, contact the person. Also, if you I would look at the list of the top pharmacy schools, most of them have sizable research departments with a littany of PhD programs. Start out by contacting those departments, figure out who the big shots in the dept are and whether the dept is going up or down. Age, for example, may be an issue. Some departments are fairly young but the ones that are old you worry about because though there is a lot of brain power there, who knows how much longer they will be around, then what? If they aren't getting new fresh faces, what does that tell you?
     
  4. chemnerd99

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    Umm NOOOOOOOO!!!! I have a PhD in medicinal chemistry and am going back to pharmacy school to get a job. There is virtually nothing out there and your competing against guys with 20 yr experience. Entire plants are shutting down and moving to India and China. 100,000 chemists jobs outsourced in the last 2 years. Don't Do It.
     
  5. LazyMooch

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    I just debated this with my undergrad advisor when I told him I was completing pre-reqs to enter a pharm school instead of finishing a chem degree and going to grad. When I brought up the job prospects, he had nothing to come back with.

    However, if it makes you happy, don't give up on it. Although, happy won't feed or house your family.
     
  6. Nocturne87

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    So, pretty much you guys are saying that a PhD in medicinal chemistry is a waste of time. Well, I'm really glad that you guys were honest and I didn't waste 4-5 years of my life. How is a PhD pharmacology? I take it that it is better than medicinal chemistry? thanks again.. this has definitely been helpful.
     
  7. chemguy79

    chemguy79 New Member
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    Better is such a relative term. Getting shot in the leg is better than getting shot in the head.

    As was stated in the thread, going into an alternate field is a preferred plan of attack. If you want to go into drug research, I would think about biotechnology/genomics because protein modification, genomics and such are the way of the future in drug research.

    I had the exact same plan of attack as you when it came to my career goals. A PhD does not offer job security; The two recent American-born graduates from my previous degree program are struggling to find post-docs and they don't have experience, therefore, they are struggling to get a job in pharma. This is sadly endemic to the entire field. :(
     
  8. harmonidrum

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    It sounds like you have a extremely strong chemistry scaffolding by which you could use to your advantage as a med chem major. As a pharmacology major myself, who opted for pharmacy after graduation, I'm not completely certain that there is a guaranteed job after getting a PhD. But I guess the same could go for any PhD, the job security just isn't there.
     
  9. RxMTM

    RxMTM Class of 2013

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    Do your degree in pure Organic chemistry or Physical chemistry. This opens up more options and you can still be hired for a medicinal position as long as you get a few years of experience with medicinal after you get your degree. Getting a medicinal chemistry degree limits you while getting an organic degree gives you more options. You will also need to go to a top-tier school. Preferably a top-10. Get with a famous adviser and complete your degree in 5 years. After that, do at least a 2 year post-doc at a prestigious school (top 10). Along the way, you will need to get some awards and high-caliber papers.

    At the end of this optimal journey, you will be marketable for different jobs.
     
  10. RxMTM

    RxMTM Class of 2013

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    You can get a job if you are strategic and have a passion for your subject. I really believe this. However, you have to make all the right choices along your path. Otherwise, you can really screw yourself. For example, if you go to a school that is ranked really low, you have killed your chances at getting a faculty job. For industry, you have to be really focused. If you want a job handed to you, it won't happen. You have to be outstanding. However, if you really want it, it will come to you. People that have harsh feelings about the market did not make the best decisions or the most strategic and are left out in the rain while the people that made the right moves are smiling at their desks. It is a harsh reality.
     
  11. RxMTM

    RxMTM Class of 2013

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    Be a sniper and not someone that fires in the dark. A disciplined sniper will kill their target just like a focused PhD student will position him/herself to get the job they want.
     
  12. chemguy79

    chemguy79 New Member
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    I disagree with your post and I have to question the experience that you have given the nature of your comments.

    You speak out of both sides of your mouth when you say that "If you want a job handed to you, it won't happen." and in the very next sentence ... "if you really want it, it will come to you." Regardless of your skills or ability, serendipity is just as important as being a skilled chemist. I work for a pharmaceutical company and frankly, the jobs are not there without having experience. It can definitely happen (I've been working in pharma for 3+ years after finishing grad school), but all of this vague talk about making "the right moves" and "if you really want it, it will come to you." is trite and implying that hard work will get you what you want which isn't always the case.
     
  13. doc toothache

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    Pharmacology and medicinal chemistry are world apart. There are not many chemistry majors that have taken courses in either. Medicinal chemistry are usually graduate programs that are offered within a college of pharmacy, whereas pharmacology may be found in both pharmacy or medical schools. Choosing a graduate program in either of the disciplines is going to be a function of your interests since the research will depend on the specialty of the professor(s) you choose. You will have to do your own research on the job market, but keep in mind that was long as there are pharmacy schools around there will always be a need for someone to teach medicinal chemistry. The same will hold for pharmacology but with a broader spectrum of health professional school (dental, medical, pharmacy, vet).

    The usual route is pharmacy, then Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry.
     
    #12 doc toothache, Aug 18, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011

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