Professor Bruce Turnbull

In the fast moving world of scientific research the most exciting and important discoveries are made at the interfaces of traditional disciplines. For those of us teaching on the MSc in Chemical Biology and Drug Design that means the interface between chemistry, biology and medicine. My original training was as a chemist, learning to make new molecules in the lab, but I never wanted to hand them over to other people to test their biological activity – I wanted to do it myself! So I moved into biophysics to learn how to measure the strength of interactions between small molecule drugs and their protein targets. This experience made want to learn how to use bacteria make the proteins, and then I realised I could turn full circle and start to make chemical modifications to the proteins at specific positions and give the proteins new functions.

All this took me years to learn, but you will find all of these topics in the MSc course and many more explaining how we can use chemistry to study biological systems and then apply that understanding to drug design to cure diseases. The course starts with the theoretical methods and then in the second half of the year you get a chance to apply your new knowledge in your research project which can involve designing and making new drug candidates, developing drug delivery systems or using chemical and biochemical methods to pick apart the molecular basis of complex biological processes.

Many of our students move on to interdisciplinary PhD projects in the UK and abroad, while others move into the pharmaceutical or chemical industry. Some even enter science publishing and public policy development, educating and informing governments on science policy.