Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal chemistry is thought by some to be a sub-discipline of chemistry and by others to be the most important area of chemistry. It is the area of chemistry that applies design and synthesis to the development of new drugs. In this way medicinal chemistry arguably differs from most other chemistry areas with the focus on access to novel compounds and evaluation of their biological properties.

Most commonly medicinal chemistry focuses on the synthesis of small organic molecules – those with a molecular weight < 500 daltons. It encompasses synthetic organic, natural product and computational chemistry with close links to chemical biology.

The aim of medicinal chemistry is to identify novel structures with interesting biology and then through an iterative sequence of synthesis and biological screening (and if possible computer assisted drug design) develop new therapeutic agents.


Current Medicinal Chemistry Programs

The programs in the McCluskey group concentrate on, where possible, simple synthetic approaches to focused compound libraries followed by rapid biological screening. The results from this screening then inform the design of the next generation of compounds. This iterative cycle continues until the desired compound properties have been developed.

Currently there are three major protein targets and four key drug discovery areas being pursued.


  • Dynamin GTPase
  • Clathrin
  • Serine / Threonine Protein Phosphatases

Drug discovery areas:

  • Epilepsy
  • Kidney Disease
  • Cancer
  • Anti-viral

In addition to the above the McCluskey team has a heavy focus in the area of Flow Chemistry and has established a state of the art Flow Chemistry Laboratory within the discipline of Chemistry.