Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research


Scanning electron micrograph of the dendrites of a cerebellar Purkinje cell - Hausser Lab


MRes Drug Design

This programme is designed for the more research-oriented student, complementing the Drug Design MSc.


Director: Dr Edith Chan
Email: edith.chan@ucl.ac.uk
Tel: 020 7679 6710

Drug design is an integral part of the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and the  UCL Division of Medicine and Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research are particularly well equipped to train the next generation of drug discovery biologists and chemists in the field, especially in Drug Discovery projects. This new programme complements UCL's existing Drug Design MSc and is designed for the more research-oriented student.

What will I learn? 

This new programme teaches students the latest methodologies and approaches and covers all aspects of drug design - drug discovery, computational and structural biology, screening, assay development, medicinal chemistry, and most importantly the industrial practices involved in modern drug design technology.

View prospectus and apply

Quick glance

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Availability: Full-time 1 year


Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of five taught modules (75 credits), and a research/dissertation (105 credits).

Complusory Modules 

MEDC0084: Research project (105 credits - start January).

Optional Modules

Students will select five from the following modules (15 credits each):

Term 1

MEDC0075: Bioinformatics and Structural Biology as applied to Drug Design
MEDC0076: Target Identification, Pharmacology and High Throughput Screening
MEDC0077: Cheminformatics and Modelling for Drug Design
MEDC0078: Biological Molecules as Therapeutics - Antibodies, siRNA, and Stem Cells

Term 2

MEDC0079: Biophysical screening methods, X-ray crystallography, protein NMR and phenotypic screening.
MEDC0080: Fragment-based Drug Design
MEDC0081: Target Selection - Scientific Grounds
MEDC0082: Target Selection - Commercial and Intellectual Property Aspects
MEDC0066: Practical Laboratory Research Skills

Research Project and Dissertation

MEDC0084 - 105 credits - start January.

All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 to 20,000 words. Research project - minimum 5 months and can be selected from expert groups in UCL - e.g. Cancer Institute, Royal Free Hospital, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Medicine, etc. Examples of research projects are as follows:

Screening, Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry
Optimization of small molecule drug inhibition of a kinase targets for therapy of Polycystic Kidney Disease
Towards novel antibiotics: small molecule inhibitors of the serine/threonine protein kinases of Gram positive bacterial pathogens
Probing host-HIV interactions using small molecule inhibitors
Medicinal Chemistry
Exploration of a new scaffold as a potential new class of a kinase inhibitor
Modified analogues of an established scaffold with potential for the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions
Computational, Cheminformatics, Bioinformatics, and computer-based literature projects
Drug repositioning using internal technology
Fragment-based design of peptidomimetic drugs
Natural hormones and neurotransmitters as drug leads
Structural and Molecular Biology
Crystal structure determination of protein-ligand complexes
Cloning and NMR study of Drug protein target
PK/ADME, Assay development
Development of PK/ADME assay for a Cancer project

Teaching and Learning 

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and problem classes, critical journal clubs and research project. Assessment is through coursework, practicals, laboratory work, examination, dissertation and oral presentation.


Programme Director - Professor David Selwood

Professor Selwood is a medicinal chemist with 12 years experience in big pharma at the Wellcome Foundation latterly Glaxo-Wellcome. Whilst at Wellcome Prof Selwood worked on the successful anti-migraine drug zolimitriptan (over $1 billion dollars in sales) and also invented GW4991W94 a compound which completed phase 2 clinical trials.

Prof Selwood moved to UCL in December 1995 to become head of the chemistry group at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research. He founded several spin out companies: ProAxon Ltd, NCE discovery (now Domainex) and Canbex Therapeutics, a spin-out company focussed on MS Therapies.

Programme Director - Dr Edith Chan

Dr Chan has over 17 years pharmaceutical and biotech experiences in the area of molecular modeling, cheminformatics, structure/ligand-based drug design, and bio-computing.

She worked in big phama and biotech: Sanofi Aventis and Inpharmatica, which involved all spectrum of drug discovery program. While working in Sanofi Aventis, she helped design ICE inhibitors, one of which has achieved Phase II status. She joined UCL in 2009 and her research is focused on computational drug design.

Graduate Tutor - Dr Andrei Okorokov

Dr Okorokov's research interest is in cell, molecular and structural biology of the protein machineries and signalling pathways controlling and maintaining the integrity of our chromosomes.

  • A minimum of upper second-class (2.1) Honours degree in a relevant discipline (for example, life sciences, medicine, chemistry, biomedicine) from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, or an appropriate professional qualification or a minimum of three years' relevant work experience. Click this link to see if you meet the requirement.
  • English requirement:

    • IELTS - Standard level: Overall grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the subtests.
    • TOEFL - Standard level: Overall score of 92 with 24/30 in reading and writing and 20/30 in speaking and listening.
  • Maximum number of students accepted onto the programme is 5 per annum.

How to apply

You may choose to apply online or download application materials, for details visit http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/degrees/drug-design-mres

Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines. The deadline for application is 31 Julyt 2017. (Wording for this para - additional how to apply statement - can be altered up to maximum of 100 words)

Who can apply?

This MRes is ideal for suitably qualified graduates who wish to obtain a broad understanding of the drug design process, either to establish a career in drug discovery, or to undertake further research in this field. It is also suitable for industry professionals wishing to refresh their existing knowledge and skills and become familiar with cutting-edge research and developments.

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Drug Design at graduate level
  • why you want to study Drug Design at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver. Applicants who have a portfolio are strongly recommended to submit it when they apply.

Contact: Dr Edith Chan 

Email: edith.chan@ucl.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 6710

UK  2021/22Overseas 2021/22
 £14270 (FT) £27170 (FT)

For those students working to organize scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants), early application for admission is strongly encouraged (preferably by May 1st for the following academic year).

Links to UCL information for prospective students on scholarships and funding.

Goverment loan

Key Facts

Research Assessment Rating

75% rated 4* (world-leading) or 3* (internationally excellent)

Admitting Department 

UCL Division of Medicine