Department of Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal Chemistry Graduate Programs

Medicinal chemistry is an interdisciplinary field at the interface of chemistry and biology. It approaches important biological and health-related problems through application of fundamental principles of organic chemistry, biochemistry, natural product chemistry, and molecular pharmacology. Graduates are expected to be thoroughly familiar with the chemistry of organic compounds, including their synthesis and biosynthesis, their reactivity, and their interactions with and alteration by living systems. Research is at the heart of the program, and the department’s research activities encompass many areas of modern medicinal chemistry.

Currently, the department has 8 full-time faculty members, 15 - 20 graduate students on an average, about 10-15 postdoctoral associates, numerous undergraduate researchers, and an outstanding technical staff. The department is recognized nationally and internationally, and generally, our graduates pursue successful careers in the pharmaceutical industry and in academia.


The department is well equipped for both chemical and biochemical research and has research facilities for about 50 graduate students, postdoctoral associates, and research technicians.  Laboratory space in the department provides research laboratories for chemical synthesis and biochemical research. Faculty are housed in modern research buildings on west campus (Shankel Structural Biology Center) and main campus (Integrated Science Building). The department has an excellent complement of modern spectroscopic, biochemical, and chromatographic instrumentation, and other specialized research instrumentation is available through cooperative arrangements with other departments and core laboratories.

Advanced instrumentation and facilities are available through KU’s Molecular Structures Group (MSG). MSG laboratories include the Biochemical Research Service Laboratory (BRSL), the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Laboratory, the Molecular Graphics and Modeling Laboratory, the X-ray Crystallography Laboratory, and the Protein Structure Laboratory (dedicated to macromolecular X-ray crystallography) with more than $10 million in instrumentation.

The Shankel Structural Biology Center (SBC) offers new research opportunities for medicinal chemists interested in protein and nucleic acid structure and combinatorial synthesis; it also houses a 800-MHz NMR. The Analytical Proteomics Laboratory, which combines activities of the Mass Spectrometry Lab and BRSL to create a collaborative environment for protein handling, protein mass spectrometry, and bioinformatics, is in SBC. In the same building, the High Throughput Screening Laboratory has integrated and automated robotics equipment for carrying out biochemical and cell-based assays and a chemical library of more than 100,000 compounds with diverse structures and drug-like properties for biological screening. The service laboratories have professional staff that provides training in specialized research techniques in addition to their service functions.