Drug Discovery: Treating Human Disease Through Medicine

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

The main objective of this course is to introduce students to the way that diseases are treated on a physiological level and how drugs are discovered and created. Students will gain an understanding of how the pharmaceutical industry approaches drug discovery, balancing patient quality of life and treatment regimen, as well as how drugs interact with the human body to elicit changes to reverse or halt damaging processes.

What makes a drug work? Why are some diseases easier to treat than others? Why do you suck on a cough drop but swallow a Claritin? This course will challenge students to act as pharmaceutical researchers by first building a foundation for the drug discovery process and an understanding of disease states, and then applying that knowledge to understand how current drugs work and how future drugs might be discovered for currently untreatable diseases. These skills will be developed through case studies of particular well-characterized diseases including Alzheimer's disease, depression, microbial infections, and cancer. Coursework will include a discussion of the current therapies each disease employs as well as the pitfalls and potential novel roads for improvement that exist in each disease state. This course will pave the way for future studies in medicine, chemistry, biology, and research-based careers, highlighting the multitude of applications drug discovery entails.

By the end of the course, students can expect to:
1. Understand the basic pharmaceutical drug discovery and development process
2. Be able to describe mechanisms of disease states and potential targets for intervention
3. Understand the concept of personalized medicine as a prominent factor in the future of medicine and why this is necessary for the treatment of certain diseases
4. Be able to evaluate prescribed medications and their advantages over other options
5. Be able to explain the mechanism by which drugs affect the human body and how the changes drugs elicit can lead to both positive and adverse effects

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course, but a strong interest or some background in the subject material is expected.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI0958
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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