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PHAL221 Drug Discovery and Development

In-depth exploration of critical decision points in the development of new medicines, from discovery and refinement, to preclinical assay selection, clinical trial design, and societal, ethical and regulatory challenges.

Paper title Drug Discovery and Development
Paper code PHAL221
Subject Pharmacology
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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Two of (BIOC 192, BIOL 112, BIOL 123, CELS 191, CHEM 111, CHEM 191, HUBS 191, HUBS 192) and 54 further points
Schedule C

Course Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Lyn Wise (

Teaching staff

Associate Professor Lyn Wise
Dr Jonathan Falconer
Dr Greg Giles
Professor Paul Smith
Professor Debbie Hay
Dr Sarah Baird

Paper Structure

Lecture Modules:

  • The Drug Pipeline
  • Nature is the Best Medicine
  • Drug Safety
  • Drug Design & Refinement
  • Drug Action
  • Studying Drug Effects
  • Clinic & Beyond
  • Challenges for the Future

Practical Series:

  • Industry Research Contract: to extract, characterise and test the anti-microbial efficacy of a NZ-derived natural product.
  • Drug Refinement Challenge: to use in silico tools to modify a drug structure and to predict changes in its safety and efficacy.
  • Regulatory Panel: to simulate the processes involved in approving drugs for human use.


  • Industry Lab Report - 10%
  • Drug Critique and Proposal - 10%
  • Panel Participation (oral presentation and written opinion) - 10%
  • Mid-term test - 10%
  • Final exam - 60%

No textbooks required.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who sucessfully complete this paper will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the critical steps and decision points in drug discovery and development
  • Explore the laboratory, computer and clinical models and tools used to assess drug safety and efficacy
  • Develop an awareness of the societal, ethical, and regulatory challenges associated with developing medicines
  • Demonstrate the principles of good laboratory practice and experimental design
  • Develop skills to identify, use and critically evaluate information from appropriate and reliable sources
  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively, through written and oral means, to scientific and non-scientific audiences

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


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


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Thursday 14:00-15:50 29-34, 36-40
A2 Thursday 16:00-17:50 29-34, 36-40
A3 Friday 14:00-15:50 29-34, 36-40
A4 Friday 16:00-17:50 29-34, 36-40