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PSCI301 Chemical Biology

The study of biomolecules as medicines and the use of chemistry to design better medicines and diagnostics. Includes synthesis, targets, development, manufacture and use of biomolecules.

Chemical Biology describes the use of chemistry to probe complex biological processes under normal and disease states, so that new diagnostics and medicines can be developed.

The aim of this paper is to introduce students to cutting edge chemical biology techniques and technologies including, the design and synthesis of biologics for therapeutic use (DNA, RNA, peptides, antibody-drug-conjugates, proteins, lipids), and the use of small molecules to probe complex biological processes in living systems. Students will learn how bioorthogonal chemistry (2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) is used in chemical biology, diagnostics and drug development.

Paper title Chemical Biology
Paper code PSCI301
Subject Pharmaceutical Science
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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(PSCI 201 and PSCI 202) or (Two of CHEM 202, CHEM 205, BIOC 221, BIOC 222, MICR 221, MICR 223, PATH 201, PHAL 211, PHAL 221)
Recommended Preparation
HUBS 191, HUBS 192, CHEM 202

This paper can complement BSc degrees with a chemistry, pharmacology, biochemistry or biology focus.


Dr Allan Gamble

Teaching staff

Paper Co-ordinator: Dr Allan Gamble

Teaching staff: Professor Sarah Hook

Paper Structure

PSCI301 will be taught through lectures, laboratories and tutorials covering the following general topics,

  • Chemical Biology.
  • Bioorthogonal Chemistry.
  • Biologics.
  • Chemical modification of drugs – targeted and responsive medicines.
  • Chemical modification of drugs – prodrugs.
  • Chemical modification of drugs – imaging and diagnostics.

Textbooks will be available through the library. Titles to be confirmed.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

By completion of this paper students will be able to,

  1. Describe how the different types of biological medicines are designed and made, including specific challenges associated with these types of medicines.
  2. Explain the general mechanisms of action for biological medicines, and the advantages and disadvantages associated with these types of medicines.
  3. Discuss how chemistry can be used to probe biological processes (chemical biology)
  4. Describe how to use chemical biology information to design new medicines and diagnostic tools.
  5. Apply chemical, biological, and analytical laboratory skills.
  6. Communicate knowledge in an appropriate scientific manner.
  7. Continue to develop skills in finding, assessing and evaluating relevant scientific literature.

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 13:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41
Tuesday 09:00-09:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 13:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 09:00-12:50 29, 32, 36, 38-39, 41


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Friday 09:00-09:50 30, 32, 34, 37, 39, 41