Pharmacy Website

Department of Medicinal Chemistry


Edmond J. LaVoie, PhD
Professor and Chair

Medicinal Chemistry brings together the disciplines of chemistry and pharmacology in the design, synthesis, and development of pharmaceutical drugs. Our work in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry encompasses the transformation of new chemical entities into potential therapies as well as the study of existing drugs, their biological properties, and their quantitative structure-activity relationships. Medicinal chemistry is uniquely positioned to leverage recent scientific advances—in particular, the mapping of the human genome—into the discovery and development of novel drugs.

Faculty Research

Our faculty members teach undergraduate courses, mentor graduate students, and conduct innovative research in medicinal chemistry. Among the developments emerging from the research groups of our distinguished scientists are:

  • novel cancer chemotherapy agents, including G-quadruplex stabilizers and new lead compounds within the isozyme-specific topoisomerase II-targeting class
  • site-specific anticancer prodrugs that activate upon reaching tumor tissue, thus minimizing toxicity and maximizing efficacy
  • novel methods for using organometallic chemistry in the synthesis and preparation of biologically active molecules
  • a diverse set of chiral ligands that combine with transition metals to form effective catalysts for the synthesis of chiral molecules
  • and other important advances

The department also hosts visiting professors, who add much to the intellectual vitality of our work, and collaborates with research colleagues across Rutgers. Our research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Cancer Society, and the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research, among others. Attesting to the innovative nature of this research are several drug patents, investigational new drug applications, and commercial licensures of novel technologies.

Undergraduate Education

The department is committed to providing a thorough understanding of the factors influencing drug design to both pharmacy students and non-pharmacy majors at Rutgers.  Our faculty members teach five undergraduate courses:

Students are encouraged to further explore medicinal chemistry by conducting research with faculty. The department supports students’ endeavors by participating in available scholarship and fellowship opportunities, including the Summer Research Fellowship Program.

Graduate Education

Medicinal chemistry is an exciting, multidisciplinary field for graduate study in drug discovery. The Graduate Program in Medicinal Chemistry offers a PhD program as well as two options for pursuing a Master of Science (MS) degree. Graduate students study and conduct research under the close guidance of faculty members within the Department of Medicinal Chemistry as well as other Rutgers departments.

Two students in the Medicinal Chemistry Graduate Program have received fellowships from the Graduate School – New Brunswick.

  • Mr. Thomas Villani is an incoming graduate student with a B.S. in Chemistry from Worchester Polytechinc Institute.  He has been awarded a Celgene Fellowship in Drug Discovery from the university.  Tom will be studying towards a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry. 
  • Ms. Suzanne Rzuczek will be completing her Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry during the upcoming academic year.  Suzanne has been awarded a University and Bevier Dissertation Fellowship.

Both of these fellowships are highly competitive and are open to all graduate programs in the university.  For our students to win these is an indicator of the high caliber of our students.  Each fellowship provides one year of support.  In Mr. Villani’s case, he will be supported as a TA once he comes off of the Celgene fellowship.

Facilities and Instrumentation

Students have access to a wide range of modern instrumentation and equipment used in the design and synthesis of new therapeutic agents, both within the department’s facilities and nearby at the laboratories of our Rutgers affiliates. A detailed overview can be found on the facilities and instrumentation page.