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Medicinal Chemist

A medicinal or pharmaceutical chemist researches and creates chemical compounds for use as drugs. By applying chemical research techniques to isolate natural healing agents or develop artificial ones, these chemists play a vital role in the pharmaceutical industry.



Medicinal chemistry is the application of chemical research techniques to the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. During the early stages of medicinal chemistry development, scientists were primarily concerned with the isolation of medicinal agents found in plants. Today, scientists in this field are also equally concerned with the creation of new synthetic drug compounds. Medicinal chemistry is almost always geared toward drug discovery and development.

The focus on development of new synthetic drug compounds has resulted in the incorporation of many other disciplines, such as biochemistry and molecular biology, into medicinal chemistry. "Medicinal chemistry involves working in teams with scientists from a variety of other disciplines," says James Kaminski, a senior principal scientist at Schering Plough. "There is a lot of collaboration between chemists and biologists while searching for a lead on a new drug or doing research on a preclinical drug candidate. Then, when you look into the drug safety profile, you work with toxicologists and pharmacologists."


Educational Requirements

Pharmaceutical chemists usually need a bachelor's degree or higher level of education, either in pharmaceutical or organic chemistry. For those without specific training in medicinal chemistry, organic chemistry coursework may enable them to get started in the industry, where they can gain the rest of the knowledge required. For those involved in graduate study, workshops such as one offered by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca offer a glimpse into the requirements of the profession.


Median Salary 2019

According to, the median salary of a Medicinal Chemist in 2019 was $91,129.


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Information retrieved from ACS: Medicinal Chemist and Chron: Medicinal Chemist.



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