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Education Initiatives

The education of students, from undergraduates to post-graduates, is an integral part of the Saint Louis University Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation’s mission.

IDBI members teach classes, mentor students, and welcome graduate and undergraduate students into their labs, expanding classroom education into real-world research experience. They also create opportunities for SLU undergraduate and graduate students to participate in drug development, including projects in chemistry, biology, pharmacology, computational and business development.

The IDBI, in conjunction with SLU Career Services, welcomes the opportunity to discuss with potential partners the recruitment of SLU students into internships, co-ops and full-time employment.

Undergraduate Programs and Opportunities

Saint Louis University offers several degree paths to students interested in drug and biotherapeutic discovery and development. A list of relevant degree programs is shown below.

Saint Louis University Degree Programs Relevant to Drug and Biotherapeutic Discovery and Development:
Bachelor's and Accelerated Programs
Degree Program B.A. B.S. M.A. M.S. Ph.D.
Chemical Biology and
Chemical Biology -
Accelerated B.S./M.S.
  Biochemistry or
Molecular Biology and
Biological Chemistry (Conc)
Pharmacy Scholars Program (3+4)   Biology or
Health Science
Biomedical Engineering     ✔ (Conc) ✔ (Conc)
Engineering Accelerated
  BME   BME (Conc)  
Computer Science    
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Accelerated BS/MS   Biology or Computer Science    
B.S. degrees generally require more STEM coursework than B.A., including laboratory classes
M.S. degrees generally require laboratory thesis research
M.A. Degrees are generally non-thesis

Research careers in drug and biotherapeutic discovery and development can be pursued with a degree in one of four related fields of study: chemical biology, biochemistry, chemistry, or biology. A comparison of these degree requirements is below. 

Accelerated Bachelor’s, Master’s (ABM) Programs

SLU undergraduates may also wish to consider enrolling in an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s (ABM) program that enables them to complete an M.A. or M.S. in chemical biology with only one additional year following the bachelor’s degree.

ABMs are available for students majoring in biology, biochemistry and engineering ; details can be found at the websites for the respective programs: Biology B.S. to Chemical Biology M.A. or M.S. /science-and-engineering/academics/undergraduate-programs/biochemistry-chemical-biology-accelerated.phpBiochemistry B.S. to Chemical Biology M.A. or M.S.

General information about applying for the accelerated bachelor’s/masters programs can be found in this student guide. SLU also offers a combined B.S.-M.S. program in engineering. Advanced degrees in engineering offer concentrations in the specific area of interest (eg. B.M.E., Mech.E., A.E., etc).

Opportunities to Get Involved in Research

Most of the B.S. degree programs discussed on this page include a research requirement, and descriptions about finding a laboratory to work in are on departmental websites. Many of the faculty members who are principal investigators (PIs) in the IDBI provide opportunities for undergraduates to work on projects in their laboratories.

Information about the PI and their area of research can be found at the IDBI website, and a partial list of available openings is maintained at the Department of Biology Undergraduate Research Google site. Students interested in research in any PI's laboratory are encouraged to reach out to inquire about openings.

Pharmacy Scholars Program

Students working toward a Bachelor of Science in biology or health sciences at SLU can apply for admission at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy (UHSP) in St. Louis after three years of undergraduate study (formerly St. Louis College of Pharmacy). Courses taken as part of the first professional (P1) year of study at UHSP in St. Louis will also satisfy senior-level degree requirements for the bachelor’s degree.

Additional Information:

Graduate Programs and Opportunities

Saint Louis University offers several master’s and doctoral programs to students interested in drug and biotherapeutic discovery and development. The most relevant programs are below.

Saint Louis University Degree Programs Relevant to Drug and Biotherapeutic Discovery and Development:
Master's and Doctoral Programs
Degree Program B.A. B.S. M.A. M.S. Ph.D.
Chemical Biology - Accelerated BS/MS   Biochemistry 
or Biology 
Chemical Biology      
Pharmacy Scholars Program (3+4)   Biology  or
Health Science 
Computer Science    
Software Engineering        
Artificial Intelligence        
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology        
BCB Accelerated B.S./M.S.   Biology  or Computer Science    
Engineering (BME concentration)      
Pharmacology and Physiological Science        
Molecular Microbiology and Immunology        
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology        
School of Medicine/Clinical Training         M.D.

Information about admission and degree requirements for these programs can be found on pages for each degree program.

Many Ph.D. Programs within the Saint Louis University School of Medicine are entered through the core Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences. More information on the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences can be found on the program website.

Suggested Interdisciplinary Coursework

Drug and biotherapeutic discovery and development is a highly interdisciplinary area of study. Undergraduates and graduate students in all programs are encouraged to enroll in courses outside of their primary field of interest. Some relevant advanced coursework is below. The current University course catalog can be found at:

BME 4320/5320: Drug Delivery (Syllabus and Schedule)
(Offered periodically)
This course will cover various modes and engineered vehicles for drug delivery, including nano- and micro-spheres, transdermal drug delivery systems (DDS), implant drug delivery, targeted delivery, and hydrogels for controlled delivery. The class will also cover mass transport fundamentals: especially diffusion, but also convection and basic pharmacokinetics models.

BIOL 4520/5520: Biochemical Pharmacology (Syllabus and Schedule)
(Offered Spring Semester)
This course is designed to give students a good understanding of fundamental principles of pharmacology. Specifically, the course will focus on how drugs interact with various targets in the body and how body affects these compounds. The course begins with basic principles of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics such as sites of drug action, agonists and antagonists, receptor theories and dose response relationships, drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination. It also covers GPCR, cell excitation, nitric oxide, eicosanoid meiators and related drugs, intermediate metabolism and related drugs, chemotherapy of infectious diseases and tumor, RNA as new drug targets, and pharmacogenomics.

BIOL 4420: Antibiotic Discovery
(Offered Spring Semester Starting 2025)

CHEM 4470/5470: Principles of Medicinal Chemistry (Syllabus and Schedule)
(Offered Spring Semester)
This course examines the relationship between chemical structure and biological activity with an emphasis on drug design and modification. Specific drug classes which will be sued as illustrative of this relationship include, cardiovascular drugs, anti-inflammatory agents, steroid hormones, and chemotherapeutic agents (antibiotics), among others.

PPY 4410/5410: Molecular Pharmacology (Syllabus and Schedule)
(Offered Spring Semester)
This course will provide the students with a comprehensive introduction to molecular pharmacology. Topics will include fundamentals of receptor biology, binding theory and efficacy, allosteric binding, principles of drug pharmacokinetics and assays/techniques used in modern pharmacology. Each student will participate in a group literature presentation highlighting some aspect of a course topic. Case studies will be used to illustrate these and related topics.

Other Courses of Interest

BME 4400/5400: Tissue-Material Interfaces
(Offered Spring Semesters)
This course will expand on the concepts introduced in the typical undergraduate biomaterials sequence. In particular, the response of tissues to implanted materials will be studied extensively.

Off-Campus and Online Courses

BIOL 5014 Biotech Industry Innovators (Washington University)

More information can be found here.

Training Materials

A short course on molecular modeling drug design from Schrodinger Software can be found here.