Rational Drug Design

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
21 May 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Drug design is an important science that aims to develop new and improved therapeutic agents. Rational drug design identifies enzymes and receptors for which drug molecules may be designed and developed to bind with high affinity and high specificity. Consideration of structure for both the drugs and protein targets plays an important role in rational drug design. Biophysical and computer-based methods have a vital role to play in the molecular design of new drugs. The methods will be illustrated by reference to some of the cutting-edge biotechnology companies that have introduced particularly interesting and effective approaches to drug design. This course covers all these issues and provides practical experience in aspects of computer-aided drug design. The material will also be illustrated by reference to case studies of particular drugs.

Module aims

This course aims to cover issues in drug design and provides practical experience in computer-aided drug

Module learning outcomes

To pass this module, students will need to be able to:

1. discuss the process of drug design from initial research through to the clinic;
2. discuss hydrophobic and solvation effects in drug design;
3. discuss bioisosteres;
4. discuss prodrugs;
5. discuss fragment-based drug design;
6. evaluate the role of molecular modelling in drug design;
7. discuss practical aspects of computer-aided drug design, including sequence retrieval, structure building, molecular graphics, docking, assessment of docked structures and quantitative structure activity relationships;
8. discuss the role of bioinformatics in drug design;
9. discuss case studies of drugs, e.g. drugs that target G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) systems and their use in therapy;
10. discuss modern approaches to drug design introduced by cutting-edge biotechnology companies.

Module information

Coursework deadlines advised in module handbooks.
Exam assessment: 3 hour paper in Summer Term.

Learning and teaching methods

Workshop (10 x 1 h; the workshops will be based on 'lectures' delivered by audio-enabled PowerPoint presentations that should be studied in advance of the workshops) Practical PC sessions (9 x 1 h supervised, each followed by 5 x 2 h unsupervised) Discussion classes (1 h) Revision class(es) (if requested). Student managed learning (121 hours/module) Total: 150 hours


  • Hansch, Corwin; Klein, Teri E. (1986-12) 'Molecular graphics and QSAR in the study of enzyme-ligand interactions. On the definition of bioreceptors', in Accounts of Chemical Research. vol. 19 (12) , pp.392-400
  • Congreve, Miles; Chessari, Gianni; Tisi, Dominic; Woodhead, Andrew J. (2008-07) 'Recent Developments in Fragment-Based Drug Discovery', in Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. vol. 51 (13) , pp.3661-3680
  • Smith, H. J.; Williams, Hywel. (2006) Smith and Williams' introduction to the principles of drug design and action, Boca Raton: CRC Taylor & Francis.
  • Congreve, Miles; Murray, Christopher W.; Blundell, Tom L. (2005-07) 'Keynote review: Structural biology and drug discovery', in Drug Discovery Today. vol. 10 (13) , pp.895-907
  • Yuriev, Elizabeth. (2014-01) 'Challenges and advances in structure-based virtual screening', in Future Medicinal Chemistry. vol. 6 (1) , pp.5-7

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
0% 100%


Coursework Exam
0% 100%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Chris Reynolds
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

Dr Clive Butler
The University of Exeter
Associate Professor of Microbial Biochemistry
Available via Moodle
Of 28 hours, 13 (46.4%) hours available to students:
15 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

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