Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development (MDD)

The Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development (MDD) is a pharmaceutical sciences thesis-based research program offered in collaboration with top-universities in the US including University of Arizona. The master’s program focuses on three major disciplines associated with preclinical drug development including drug design and synthesis, drug delivery, pharmacology, and pharmacogenomics.

The program outcomes are constructed to address the required competencies for researchers in pharmaceutical sciences wishing to pursue a career in academia, research and development, or join a PhD program in pharmaceutical sciences or other relevant fields. Graduates of relevant undergraduate programs other than pharmacy may join the program after taking bridge course(s) if required by the graduate committee. The study plan of the program is structured to deliver 33 credit hours over 4 semesters.

The Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development (MDD) is accredited by the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), Ministry of Education, Higher Education Affairs, UAE. The master’s program in Drug Discovery and Development is the newest addition to the college with three main research areas:

  1. Drug Design and Medicinal Chemistry.
  2. Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics.
  3. Drug Delivery and Targeting.

Program Highlights:

  1. The program is accredited by the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), Ministry of Education, Higher Education Affairs, UAE.
  2. Pharmaceutical sciences thesis-based research program offered in collaboration with top-universities in the US including University of Arizona.
  3. Opportunities for research placements at the University of Arizona.
  4. Offered to graduates of Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry, Biomedical Sciences, Science and other relevant degree programs.
  5. Two-year program with three major research areas including drug design and medicinal chemistry, pharmacology and pharmacogenomics, and drug delivery and targeting.
  6. State of the art research facilities in areas of drug design, pharmaceutical analysis, pharmaceutics, pharmacology, and pharmacogenomics.

Goals

The goals of the Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development:

  • Advance knowledge in the field of drug discovery and development including design and synthesis of drugs, pharmacological models, formulation techniques and drug delivery systems.
  • Build-up research capabilities in the most recent and advanced pharmaceutical aspects.
  • Specialize knowledge and skills to develop new biologically active compounds and/or advanced drug delivery systems.
  • Manage complicated issues in research ethics, multidisciplinary team dynamics, critical appraisal of research articles.
  • Demonstrate self-directed learning and innovation in their industrial/entrepreneur/academic practice and research.

Program Learning Outcomes

Knowledge

  • A1: Explain different strategies in drug design, synthesis techniques and identification of the synthesized compound(s).
  • A2: Analyze different pharmacological models used for in vivo drug characterization.
  • A3: Assess physicochemical characteristics and in vivo performance of active ingredients.
  • A4: Discuss pre-formulation and formulation techniques used for development of conventional and advanced drug delivery systems.

Skills

  • B1: Design and synthesize different compounds of pharmaceutical interest with proper characterization.
  • B2: Evaluate the current and new pharmaceutical compounds using different pharmacological and tissue-based models.
  • B3: Formulate and evaluate conventional and advanced drug delivery systems.
  • B4: Suggest ideas and write research proposals in the assigned area of pharmaceutical sciences.
  • B5: Perform pharmaceutical research both independently as well as in a team.
  • B6: Read, write, understand, interpret and criticize research articles.
  • B7: Analyze sets of data and findings using different statistical methods and software.

Competencies

  • C1: Demonstrate respectful and responsible attitudes in professional practice.
  • C2: Manage self-directed and lifelong learning in advancing one’s own competencies.
  • C3: Play efficient roles either as an independent researcher or part of a research team.

Program Coordinator:

Dr. Ahmed Thabet Negmeldin
Chair Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Study Plan

Name of the Program Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development
Credit Hours 33
Semesters 4 Semesters
Duration 2 Years
In Collaboration with University of Arizona

 

The program is composed of 33 credit hours spread over 4 semesters. The program study plan is shown below:

Semester 1
Code Course CH* LH** NLH*** Pre/Co-requisite
MDD 611 Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity 2 2
MDD 612 Research Methodology and Applied Biostatistics 2 2
MDD 613 Drug Discovery and Development 3 3
MDD 614 Research Techniques 2 1 2
MDD 615 Seminar I 1 2
  Total 10 8 4  

 

Semester 2
Code Course CH LH NLH Pre/Co-requisite
MDD 621 Elective course I 3 3
Elective course II 3 3
Elective course III 3 3
MDD 622 Seminar II 1 2
MDD 623 Directed Research 2 4
  Total 12 9 6  

 

Semester 3
Code Course CH LH NLH Pre/Co-requisite
MDD 711 Thesis I 4 8 MDD 612 -MDD 615 & MDD 623
MDD 712 Seminar III 1 2
  Total 5 10  

 

Semester 4
Code Course CH LH NLH Pre/Co-requisite
MDD 721 Thesis II 5 10 MDD 612 -MDD 615 & MDD 623
MDD 722 Seminar IV 1 2
  Total 6 12  

*CH: Number of credit hours, **LH: Number of lecture hours, ***NLH: Number of non-lecture hours.

Total Credit Hours: 33

 

Elective Courses

A student shall take three courses after discussion with the supervisor and approval of the program director. Elective Courses are displayed in the table below:

Code

Course Name

CH

LH

NLC

MDD 621-1 Drug Design

3

3

MDD 621-2 Advanced Drug Synthesis

3

3

MDD 621-3 Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

3

3

MDD 621-4 In Vivo Pharmacological Models

3

2

2

MDD 621-5 Advanced Pharmaceutics

3

3

MDD 621-6 Drug Delivery and Targeting

3

3

MDD 621-7 Spectrometric Identification of Organic Compounds

3

2

2

MDD 621-8 Pharmacogenetics and Pharmacogenomics

3

3

MDD 621-9 Novel Drug Carriers

3

3

*CH: Number of credit hours, **LH: Number of lecture hours, ***NLH: Number of non-lecture hours.

 

Bridging Courses:

Graduates from colleges other than pharmacy who lack the basic knowledge in organic chemistry, pharmacology, or pharmaceutics may have to take non-credit bridging course(s). Students may take one or more bridge courses based on the decision of the program committee. Non-credit bridging courses are shown in the table below:

Code Bridging Course LH
MDD BR1 Organic Chemistry 3
MDD BR2 Pharmacology 3
MDD BR3 Pharmaceutics 3

MDD611 Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity

This course describes the general rules and ethics in scientific research in terms of designing experiments, executing experiments, reporting to mentors, collaborating with other researchers, publishing data and managing potential competing interests. On completion of this course, candidates should be aware of the proper ways for research conduct.

MDD612 Research Methodology and Applied Biostatistics

This is an advanced course in biostatistics and research methodology. This course focuses upon organizing and summarizing data; sampling methods and statistical distributions; estimation and hypotheses about means, proportions and variances base on large and small samples; analysis of variance; regression analysis (simple and multiple); Chi-square-tests; nonparametric methods; and correlation coefficient, bio statistical data and other statistics relevant to pharmaceutical sciences research.

MDD613 Drug Discovery and Development           

The course provides an overview on drug discovery, screening and preformulation studies. It covers step-by step the process of lead discovery and its screening using different in vitro and in vivo pharmacological models. Also, the course includes the determination of the drug physicochemical and pharmacokinetic characteristics. Finally, the students will have a general overview of the clinical trials protocols and designs.

MDD614 Research Techniques

Introduction to laboratory work employing modern techniques available in computational medicinal chemistry, organic synthesis, purification, and identification; application of basic principles to graduate study and research. Moreover, the techniques used for determining physicochemical properties of new drug delivery systems are summarized. The course emphasizes specifically on qualitative methods, engaging in a wide range of research techniques in pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, and related fields.

MDD 615 Seminar I, MDD 622 Seminar II, MDD 712 Seminar III and MDD 722 Seminar IV

In the seminar course series, students will be exposed to a broad range of research in the fields of drug discovery, development and delivery.  Presentations will be given by students, internal and external expert speakers and researchers from the region and affiliated Universities in the US.

MDD621-1 Drug Design

This course includes detailed studies of different classic and modern drug design approaches, lead modifications and applications from the literature. In addition, molecular interactions in drug discovery and their importance, fundamentals of theoretical and computational medicinal chemistry, virtual screening and molecular docking are also discussed in this course.

MDD621-2 Advanced Drug Synthesis

This course focus on scope and limitations of important synthetic methods of organic chemistry and applications to drug synthesis with a close look at the structural concepts and mechanistic patterns that are fundamental to organic chemistry. Retrosynthesis, several disconnection approaches, and multistep syntheses are also discussed as important tools in drug synthesis. Several examples of the synthesis of different drugs from the literature are covered in the course as well.

MDD621-3 Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology

This course describes the basic principles of molecular pharmacology with emphasis on drug receptor interaction, types of receptors, secondary messengers, DNA response elements and intracellular signal transduction. In addition, this course focuses on some molecular phenomena, such as cell cycle distribution, apoptosis, autophagy, methuosis and necrosis. On completion of this course, candidates will be familiar with many essential aspects of molecular pharmacology.

MDD621-4 In Vivo Pharmacological models

This course describes the general principles of animal handling and the use of animal models in researches related to pharmacology and drug discovery with emphasis on behavioural animal models, CNS animal models, endocrine diseases related animal model, cancer animal models, NSAID related animal model and autoimmune disease animal models. On completion of this course, candidates will be able to select the suitable animal model for each particular discipline of pharmacological research.

MDD621-5 Advanced Pharmaceutics

The course discusses the principles of advanced pharmaceutics: physicochemical principles to pharmaceutical systems like-solubility and distribution phenomena, significance of complexation and their impact on pharmaceutical preparation/processing; Identify specific rheological behavior with their corresponding rheograms. The solution kinetics of drugs degradation, rate processes and reaction order for simple and complex reactions are discussed. This course is designed to familiarize students with both physiological factors and physicochemical characteristics of the drug that influences the drug absorption from gastro-intestinal tract. The students also study the biopharmaceutics of oral and non-oral medication, factors affecting bioavailability of drugs including pharmacokinetic variability, and biopharmaceutics of modified release and new drug delivery systems.

MDD621-6 Drug Delivery and Targeting

This course teaches students the recent advances in the drug delivery systems. The course allows students to be up to date with the novel formulation and their applications in brain, tumor, hepatic and lymphatic targeting. Moreover, new aspects of vaginal dosage forms and vaccine delivery systems are covered in this course.

MDD621-7 Spectrometric Identification of Organic Compounds

This course covers basic principles and theories of different spectrometric techniques used in the structural elucidation of organic compounds and drugs such as IR, 1HNMR, 13CNMR, mass spectrometry, and UV spectroscopy. It also includes applications of these spectrometric techniques in the identification of organic compounds, with emphasis on interpretation of spectra, especially NMR. In addition, the chemical identification and structural elucidation of different compounds and drugs from literature using several spectroscopic techniques will be covered as a direct application for this course in the chemical synthesis of drugs and organic compounds.

MDD621-8 Pharmacogenetics and Pharmacogenomics

This course will provide a general understanding of the molecular approaches to genotyping, genotype/phenotype relationships and gene-environment interactions as determinants of disease susceptibility, response to treatment and incidence/severity of adverse drug reaction. It will examine the molecular basis for inter-individual variability in drug disposition and application of that information for individualized medicine. It will also cover the application of gene-array, gene-sequencing and gene editing (CRISPR) technologies for the identification/modification of disease susceptibility and drug response pharmacology.

MDD621-9 Novel Drug Carriers

This course introduces students to the novel drug delivery system carriers; such as nanoparticles, nanovesicles and micelles. The course covers the fundamental principles, the strategies and techniques used for preparing various nanoparticulate drug delivery carriers. Recent advances of nanoparticulate carriers and its physical properties, physicochemical characterization methods, challenges and applications in the field of drug delivery will be discussed.

MDD623 Directed Research

This course will be in the form of one-to-one meetings between the student and the supervisor. It will focus on developing the research idea, research question, research methods. At the end of the semester, the student will write and present a research protocol that describes the study objectives, subjects, design, variables and measurements that will be made and the way in which it will be analyzed.

MDD711 Thesis I and MDD721 Thesis II

Individual research under the direction of faculty supervisor(s) leading to preparation, completion, and oral defense of a thesis. The student must report on progress to the program director via the main supervisor, at the end of each thesis course. The thesis evaluation committee is composed of the main supervisor, an internal examiner and an external examiner. In order to ensure quality and meet international standards, the external examiner will be from one of the western universities such as Virginia Commonwealth University, Wayne State University, Kingstone University, University of Arizona, University of Iowa, or University of Saint Joseph with which we already have Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) and/or existing collaboration.

Admission Requirements Academic Year 2020-21

General Admission Requirements

  • All applicants shall meet all criteria for admission into each program offered by the University as laid down in the Standards for Licensure and Accreditation published by the Ministry of Education (MOE)
  • All applicants shall first be screened for eligibility for the program applied for before being interviewed by the Program Director or the Department Chair.
  • The applicant shall be a graduate of an accredited Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry, Biomedical Sciences, Science or any other relevant discipline.
  • The Admission Committee shall interview the individuals for their readiness, ability, aptitude, academic credentials, communication skills, motivation and integrity.
  • No applicant shall be discriminated on the basis of sex, race, age, religion, color, national origin or disability status.
  • The University shall require the submission of official transcripts of credit earned from all institutions of higher education previously attended.
  • Students from outside the country are required to complete the following steps in their countries where they completed their bachelors before submitting the application to the Ministry of Education in UAE;
    • Ministry of Education attestation stamped on their original documents: Bachelor or undergraduate degree.
    • Ministry of Foreign Affairs attestation stamped on their original bachelor.
    • UAE Embassy attestation stamped on original bachelor.
    • In the UAE, students from outside the country are required to attest their original bachelor from Ministry of Foreign Affairs before submitting their application to the Ministry of Education in UAE.

Specific Admission Requirements

Qualified candidates are welcome to apply to GMU for the Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development Program. GMU provides the highest standards of education to all students irrespective of the financial aspects. Applicants should satisfy certain standards to be admitted to GMU.

The following are the minimum requirements for admission into the Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development Program at GMU.  The candidate must show capability to pursue an academic career and research. Minimum requirements include:

  • A bachelor degree of Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry, Biomedical Sciences, Science, or any other relevant degree from a University/Institute recognized by the ministry of education, UAE
  • Distinct undergraduate performance of GPA of 3 on a 4-point scale, or equivalent grade (“B”)
  • English language proficiency test score of 1400 for EmSAT, 550 for TOEFL or 6.0 for IELTS.

Full Admission Requirements

  • All applicants for Master programs offered by the University shall have a recognized bachelor degree in Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry, Biomedical Sciences, Science, or any other relevant degree earned in a discipline appropriate for the prospective graduate study with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or its established equivalent.
  • All applicants admitted into programs delivered in English as a medium of instruction shall have demonstrated proficiency in English, for example, having attained a minimum EmSAT score of 1400, TOEFL score of 550  (213  CBT,  79  iBT)  or  its  equivalent  in  a  standardized English language test such as 6.0 IELTS or another standardized, internationally recognized test that is approved by the Ministry of Higher Education, UAE. Students who have completed undergraduate education in an English-medium institution might be allowed admission into a graduate program without demonstrating TOEFL score of 550 (or equivalent). This exemption can be applicable only to those students who undertook all their schooling (K-12) plus a Bachelor’s degree in English in a reference English speaking country (e.g. UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand).

Conditional Admission Requirements Read More

  1. A student with a recognized bachelor degree in Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry, Biomedical Sciences, Science, or any other relevant degree and a minimum TOEFL score of 530 on the Paper based test, (197 CBT or 71 iBT), 5.5 IELTS academic, or its equivalent on another standardized test approved by MOE may be admitted conditionally to a Master’s program. This student must meet the following requirements during the period of conditional admission or be subjected to dismissal from the program:
    1. Must achieve an EmSAT score of 1400 or equivalent, by the end of the student’s first semester of study.
    2. may take a maximum of six credit hours in the first semester of study, not including intensive English courses.
    3. The student must achieve an overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0-point scale or its established equivalent, in the first six credit hours of credit-bearing courses studied for the graduate program.
  2. A student with a recognized bachelor degree of Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry, Biomedical Sciences, Science, or any other relevant degree with a CGPA between 2.50 and 2.99 on a 4.0-point scale, or its established equivalent, and who meets the English language requirements for general admission requirements may be admitted conditionally. This student can take a maximum of 9 credit hours out of 12 in the first semester. The student must meet the following requirements during the period of conditional admission or be subjected to dismissal from the program:

The student must achieve an overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0-point scale or its established equivalent in the first semester of the master program.

Specific Completion Requirements of the Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development Program includes:

  • Completion of 33 credits
  • A minimum CGPA of 3.0
  • A minimum pass mark of 70% (Grade C) for each course
  • A minimum attendance of 80%
  • Submission of a thesis is mandatory in the prescribed format

Thesis evaluation and publication of research work:

  • The thesis evaluation committee is composed of the main supervisor, an internal examiner, and an external examiner. In order to ensure quality and meet international standards, the external examiner will be from one of the western universities such as Virginia Commonwealth University, Wayne State University, Kingstone University, University of Arizona, University of Iowa, or University of Saint Joseph with which we already have Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) and/or existing collaboration.
  • The College advises its students to publish their research in indexed peer-reviewed journals. They are also encouraged to publish short articles in scientific and literary newsletters or magazines. For the master students, every student should publish or at least write and submit a manuscript in an indexed journal before graduation.
  • Students must also publish or present their data at scientific conferences during the study period to increase their level of professionalism and to get engaged with the scientific community and learn more from those experiences.
  1. Join academia as a lecturer in higher education institutions.
  2. Pursue a PhD in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences.
  3. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries:
    • Research and development
    • Quality control
    • Quality assurance
  4. Intellectual property and Regulatory affairs.
  5. Governmental regulatory authorities related to pharmaceutical industry.

Khaled Barakat

  • Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada
  • PhD in biophysics, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada

Yin Chen

  • Associate Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, University of Arizona, Arizona, US
  • PhD, Genetics, University of California, California, US

Mohamed Elsawy

  • Senior lecturer in pharmaceutical sciences, Leicester School of Pharmacy, De Montfront University, Leicester, UK
  • PhD, Pharmacy (medicinal chemistry), School of Pharmacy, Queen’s University of Belfast, Belfast, UK

Rania Hathout

  • Head of Pharmaceutics Department and Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt
  • PhD, Pharmaceutics and Drug Design, University of Bath, Bath, UK

Amany Kamel

  • Vice Dean and Professor of Pharmaceutics and Industrial Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt
  • PhD, Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt

Thanga Mariappan

  • Director, Head, Pharmaceutical Candidate Optimization (PCO), BBRC, Bristol Myers Squibb, India.
  • PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Punjab, India

Steve Shnyder

  • Senior Lecturer in Chemical Biology, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences (Faculty of Life Sciences), University of Bradford, UK
  • PhD in cancer medicine, University College London, UK

Name: Reham Khaled Abu-Hijleh
PharmD Year of Graduation: 2016
Research Project: Phytotherapy and natural remedies of marine origin for the treatment of solid tumors
Research Supervisor: Dr. Ahmed Al-Abd
A word from Reham: “As GMU is considered a second home, it was of no surprise that I would choose to pursue higher education in the same institution. MDD is serving as a bridge linking the present to the future by providing the necessary guidance for exploring more opportunities that makes me more confident about my future plans through the welcoming and pleasant learning environment with the support of the well experienced faculty and the presence of other MDD students”

Name: Samiullah Shabbir Ahmad
PharmD Year of Graduation: 2016
Research Project: Lysosomal membrane permeabilization involvement in cancer treatment.
Research Supervisor: Dr. Ahmed Al-Abd
A word from Samiullah: “What I like about MDD is the collaborative environment between different fields of Science. The professors are easily accessible, providing individual attention to every student. We also enjoy a robust collaboration with prestigious universities around the world”

Name: Dalia Al Saeedy
PharmD Year of Graduation: 2020
Research Project: The project’s main aim is determining the underlying mechanisms and genetic polymorphisms that are responsible for toxicity in chemotherapeutic regimens utilized in the treatment of colorectal cancers.
Research Supervisor: Dr. Ahmed Al-Abd
A word from Dalia: “I chose this program because GMU is the only university in the UAE that offers my preferred program of choice. In addition to that, the extensive and wide-ranging lab facilities offered allows you to explore your options before committing to one area of research”

Name: Hesham Mohammed Elashmouny
PharmD Year of Graduation: 2020
Research Project: Developing and Optimizing Targeted Multi-layered Muco-adhesive Nano-formulation.
Research Supervisor: Dr. Ibrahim Elsayed
A word from Hesham: “I chose MDD because this program is flexible where I can have work life balance as well as demonstrate self-directed learning and innovation in research”

Name: Sharrol Jesmine
PharmD Year of Graduation: 2020
Research Project: The project’s main aim is to integrate rational drug design techniques with computer-aided drug design simulation to design and synthesize a series of compounds as novel EGFR inhibitors.
Research Supervisors: Dr. Ahmed Thabet & Dr. Eman El-labbad
A word from Sharrol: “As I am very interested in the field of research, I believe that joining MDD will provide me with a strong foundation to pursue my career in research. One of the most interesting aspects of this program is to be surrounded by the professors’ expertise in the field who are always encouraging and ready to help and go the extra miles for us, they definitely provide a comfortable atmosphere. I also enjoy working with my classmates who are very friendly, enthusiastic, and supportive”

April, 2021

GMU MDD Candidate Reham Abu Hijjleh Participates in the 4th AUE Student Research Competition

April 12, 2021

On April 12, GMU Master in Sciences of Drug Discovery and Development, Reham Abu Hijjleh, participated in the 4th AUE Student Research Competition with a project titled...

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GMU’s Samiullah Shabbir Presents his Research at DUPHAT 2021

April 7, 2021

On April 7th, 2021, Mr. Samiullah Shabbir, Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development student, and Teaching Assistant, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences,...

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GMU’s Reham Abu Hijjleh Presents her Research at DUPHAT 2021

April 7, 2021

On April 7th, 2021, Reham Khaled Abu Hijjleh, Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development student, and Teaching Assistant, Department of Pharmaceutical...

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GMU’s Sharrol Jesmine Presents her Research at DUPHAT 2021

April 7, 2021

On April 7th, 2021, Ms. Sharrol Jesmine, Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development student, College of Pharmacy, GMU participated in DUPHAT 2021, by...

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March, 2021

GMU Masterclass for the Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development Program

March 18, 2021

The College of Pharmacy hosted a masterclass for the Master of Science in Drug Discovery and Development Program on Wednesday, March 18th. The objectives of the...

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