Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research


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



Researchers within the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research contribute to several distinguished taught courses at UCL.
MSc Drug Design

MSc Drug Design

The post genomics era has brought a basic change in traditional drug discovery. This programme reflects the rapid changes in this subject in the last few years.

MRes Drug Design

MRes Drug Design

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.

MSc Precision Medicine

MSc Precision Medicine

This new MSc will equip you with state-of-the-art knowledge relating to mechanistic understanding of disease and technologies that detect, diagnose and specifically treat causal factors of disease. It is taught by research scientists, clinicians and industry experts. 

PhD wibr ucl


Most PhD places at UCL are now administered via 4-year PhD programmes with a taught element in the first year, plus three 3-month "rotation projects" in different labs, prior to the student's deciding on a lab and project for the final three years.


Georgia Denning


"The broad range of topics covered during the course gave me an intricate understanding of all aspects of drug discovery, consisting of a range of cutting edge skills and techniques in molecular modelling and chemoinformatics to bioinformatics and even evaluation of patenting within the pharmaceutical industry. These skills are reinforced with an even greater theoretical knowledge via the modules studied, with lectures being delivered from leading experts in their fields whether that be academia or industry.

"This course sets you up with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding that is essential to break into the world of pharma, I personally found myself drawn to the fast paced environment of industry and with much thanks due to the MSc in Drug Design at UCL I now work as a chemoinformatician for one of the worlds leading pharmaceutical companies.

"Having studied for a BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter I found that I was intrigued by the evolution and treatment of disease and the modules studied during the MSc in Drug Design at UCL gave me a fantastic opportunity to delve further into the drug discovery process." Georgia Dennin (2011) Cheminformatian at AstraZeneca

Lorcan Browne


"The course itself exposed me to a range of techniques and skills; including the use of Molecular Modelling software and Statistical analysis programmes. It also delivering a broad range of lecture topics; from stem cell research and pharmacogenomics to X-ray crystallography and NMR, from both lectures in UCL and experts from industry.

"I plan to continue on to do a PhD and feel that this master provides a comprehensive background in many of the tools and techniques that are employed at the frontier of research today.

"My background was primarily Organic Chemistry, but I was more interested in pursuing the Medicinal side of chemistry so the MSc in Drug design provided a great oppurtunity to devolop my knowledge and skills in this area. I chose UCL for its great reputation and for its role as one of the top research colleges in Europe." Lorcan Browne (2011)  PhD studentship at UCL, UK

Sami Jaffar


"Having read a first degree in Chemistry, the MSc in Drug Design at UCL was a fantastic opportunity to equip myself with the cutting-edge techniques that drive innovation at the forefront of Big Pharma and Biotech.

The comprehensive nature of the course allowed me to develop in-depth knowledge of aspects essential to Drug Discovery & Design. Modules covering Fragment Based Drug Design, Molecular Modelling and Cheminformatics were especially interesting, with specialist lectures being delivered by leading speakers from academia and industry, such as GSK, Cresset & Astex Pharmaceuticals - providing an invaluable insight into current industry opinion.

I believe the MSc Drug Design at UCL is essential for anyone looking to gain entry into a career in Pharma or Academia. It certainly sets you apart from the 'crowd'.Sami Jaffar (2011) PhD studentship at Oxford University, UK

Interview with Maximilian Liedtke (Winner of Dean's Prize 2014)

My experience of the MSc in Drug Design at the WIBR



I can say my experience at UCL MSc Drug Design was amazing. When I first joined the course, I was unable to attend the first few weeks due to complications with my undergraduate degree. However, through great support from our course director, Dr. Edith Chan, I could catch up and get up to speed with my course mates.  Although the course was fairly small, ranging up to roughly 14 students, the atmosphere was lively and welcoming. The vast diversity of cultures as well as scientific backgrounds of the participants, such as biochemistry, molecular biology, pharmaceutical sciences and so forth enabled the courses and lectures to be dynamic and interactive, as everyone had different knowledge to contribute to the topic at hand.

The course was well set up. By this I mean that the first two modules covered basic bio molecular knowledge that aimed to put all students at the same level thus forming a foundation upon which the remaining 6 modules could build on. Due to each lecture being held by a different professor as well as guest speakers from big companies such as GSK and Astra Zeneca, renowned for their field of expertise, the course was kept upbeat and interesting.  Additionally this gave us the chance to gain insight into the diverse fields awaiting us after our Masters.  Modules were usually set up with a range of different lectures accompanied by a practical or workshops that allowed us to reflect and use the knowledge gained. Furthermore, a wide scale of different tools and programs were taught making us experts within drug design.

In my opinion, what has to be addressed most importantly is the support. From day one until the very end, we could approach lecturers and course directors whenever needed and would obtain support, whether it be course related or course unrelated. We were always guided and kept on the right track. Roughly half way through the year we individually had a session to give feedback on the course while vice versa we were told what needed to be improved and how to best do so. I personally remember being told to increase my potential by adding extra effort as I was always slightly away from achieving best marks. As it might seem self-explanatory, this nevertheless indulged me to put in that extra 10% to break my boundaries.

I will never forget how surprised and astounded I was having learnt such vast amount of knowledge on drug design within such a short period of time. After handing in my thesis I was sure that I was ready for any challenge that would face me.  I am now well prepared for a future in drug design and would recommend this course to anyone looking to learn more or advance in this field.

Publications from Past Student-Project

Genome-wide analysis of multi- and extensively drug-resistabt ycobacterium tuberculosis.   Nat Genet 2018, 50, 307.... Stephanie Portelli , ...IF 27.15

Clinical, genetic, and structural basis of congenital adrenal hyperplasia due to 11 beta-hydroxylase deficiency.   PNAS 2017, 114, E1933.... Di Li , ...IF 9.58

Morphological changes in human serum albumin in presence of cationic amphiphilic drugs.   New J of Chemistry 2018, inpress. Z Yaseen, VK Aswal, Xuan Zhou, Kabir-ud-Din, S Haider. IF 3.01

An antibody that prevents serpin polymerisation acts by inducing a novel allosteric behaviour.   Biochem J 2016, 473, 3269. N Motamedi-Shad, AM Japper,  Maximilian Liedtke, ... JA Irving, DA Lomas. IF 2.95

Selective Inhibition of the Mitochondrial Permeability Transition Pore Protects against Neurodegeneration in Experimental Multiple Sclerosis.   JBC 2016, 291, 450. J Warne, G Pryce, JM Hill, Xiao Shi, ... AWE Chan, AR Coker, DL Selwood. IF 4.11

Two- and Three-dimensional Rings in Drugs.   Chem Bio & Drug Design 2014, 83, 450. Matteo Aldeghi, Shipra Malhotra, DL Selwood, AWE Chan. IF 2.26

The structure of endothiapepsin complexed with a Phe-Tyr reduced-bond inhibitor at 1.35 Å resolution.   Acta Crystallogr F Struct Biol Commun 2014, 70, 30. Jingxu Guo, JB Cooper, SP Wood. IF 0.65

Simple Fabrication of Robust Water-Repellent Surfaces with Low Contact-Angle Hysteresis Based on Impregnation.   Advanced Materials Interfaces 2014, 1, 1300138. A. Eifert, Dorothea Paulssen, et al. IF 4.71

Clostridium perfringens epsilon toxin H149A mutant as a platform for receptor binding studies.   Protein Sci 2013, 22, 650. M Bokori-Brown, Maria C Kokkinidou, ... AK Basak, RW Tiball. IF 2.74

Graduate Progression

PhD Studentships


  • Oxford University
  • UCL
  • Imperial College
  • Southampton


  • SEMM European School of Molecular Medicine, University of Milan, Italy
  • Institut Laue-Langevin, Grenoble, France
  • TUM - Technische Universität München, Germany
  • Pier Helmholtz Graduate School, Hamburg, Germany
  • European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany
  • University of Würzburg, Germany
  • ETH Zurich, Switerland

USA and others

  • Univeristy of Kanas, USA
  • Fudan University, China
Jobs in Industry
  • Cheminformatian, AstraZeneca, UK
  • Database Administrator, ACM Global, UK
  • Account Manager, Genesis Medical, UK
  • Sales Engineer , COMSOL, UK
  • Business development, DSGI, UK
  • Teaching positions, Universities, UK
  • Research Associates, Universities, UK and Overseas
UCL Careers

UCL Careers is a UCL department and is part of The Careers Group, University of London.  

They provide a wide variety of careers information, one-to-one guidance and events to current UCL students and staff and to recent UCL graduates. They are also able to support you at all stages of your career journey during and after your time at UCL.



Industry Support

 We are grateful with the support from our Industrial collaborators. They give us insightful lectures, offer us Research projects, and teaching software licenses. Thank you.

Astex Pharmaceuticals


Cancer Research Technology

European Bioinformatics Institute

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

JA Kemp (Patent and trade Mark Attorney)


Kirklees Biosciences




Codon usage database - Codon usage database

    DrugBank - Drug/Target information

        EBI - EBI home

                ExPASy - ExPASy proteomics server 

                NCBI - NCBI home 

                PDB - Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics (RCSB) 

                PDBsum - Summaries and structural analyses of PDB data files 

                Swiss-Prot - Protein sequence and function 

                Mobyle@pasteur - codon calculation 

                UniProt - Protein sequence and functio


                  Here is a list of commercial and academic software, databases and programs that we use in our degree programme. We are grateful that these organisations and their scientists grant us the permission to use them.

                  MOE (CCG) - Comprehensive computational software for Drug Discovery process

                  Molecular Modeling/Cheminformatics:
                  Pipeline Pilot (Accelrys)- Comprehensive cheminformatics tools 
                  Cresset Field Technolgy - molecular Field technology 
                  GOLD (CCDC) - Protein-Ligand Docking 
                  YASARA (Yasara) - Modeling and SImulation 
                  Accelrys Draw (Accelrys) - Chemical structure drawing tool, Tutorial
                  COOT - Crystallographic Object-Oriented Toolkit

                  BioEdit - Biological sequence alignment editor 
                  PyMOL - Open-source molecular graphics visualisation, PyMOL examples
                  RasMol - Molecular graphics visualisation 
                  Swiss-Pdb Viewer - PDB viewer

                  Origin (OriginLab) - Data analysis, publication-quality graphing, and programming. 

                  Web programs

                  NCBI Blast - Similarity between biological sequences

                      Optimizer - Optimize a DNA or protein sequence 

                      phyre - Protein Homology/analogY Recognition Engine 

                      RaCC - Rare Codon Calculator 

                      Rare codon search (Bioline) 

                      Studentships and jobs
                      Reading Materials

                      Please do not feel obliged to buy all these books as together, they will be expensive.

                      You can find some of these in the UCL Library.

                      Access Biomedical & Life Sciences Lectures by leading world experts.

                      Another good resource is the NCBI Bookshelf.

                      More importantly, read research articles and reviews from E-journals which are free from UCL Library Services.

                      Throughout the course, lecturers will also provide PDFs of specialized materials from Journals.

                      Drug discovery
                      Discovery and development of sorafenib
                      A New Class of Raf Kinase Inhibitors
                      Fragment-Based Drug Discovery Applied to Hsp90
                      A Novel Inhibitor of the Molecular Chaperone Hsp90 by Fragment Based Drug Design
                      Can the pharmaceutical industry reduce attrition rates?
                      Rebuilding big pharma's business model
                      Applied Bioinformatics: An Introduction, Selzer et al
                      Essential Bioinformatics , Xiong
                      Bioinformatics (Advanced Texts) , Orengo et al
                      Understanding Bioinformatics, Zvelebil et al
                      Structural Bioinformatics, Gu, Bourne (eds)
                      Structural biology
                      Protein Structure and Function (Primers in Biology), Petsko et al
                      Cheminformatics / modelling of drugs
                      An Introduction to Chemoinformatics
                      An Introduction to Medicinal Chemistry
                      Fundamentals of Medicinal Chemistry
                      Chemistry of Drugs (New Chemistry)
                      Biological molecules as therapies
                      Computational Structural Biology: Methods And Applications
                      Biology of drug discovery programmes
                      Calorimetry and thermodynamics in drug design
                      The rise of fragment-based drug discovery
                      The benefits of constructing leads from fragment hits
                      Design of HSP90 inhibitors
                      Target selection
                      Target selection in drug discovery