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CHE 362: Drugs and Toxicology

This has been one of the most exciting years of chemistry classes for me.  I was finally able to take a few major electives specific to the type of chemistry I’m interested in (chemistry with biological or medicinal applications).  Fall quarter I took chemical biology where we read many papers in the field about the development of chemical methods for studying biological systems.  Winter quarter I took medicinal chemistry where we learned the fundamentals of drug discovery, design, metabolism, and a few other aspects of how drugs work on their target and what our body does to the drugs to get rid of them.

This quarter’s elective is no disappointment.  Drugs and toxicology (CHE 362) is a continuation of medicinal chemistry where we are learning the specifics of the major classes of medicines and therapeutic drugs.  It’s incredibly exciting.  We started the class focusing on the metabolism of drugs, making sure that we understood the detoxification mechanisms that exist in our body.  Speaking of mechanisms, we learned arrow pushing mechanisms for how scientists think the enzymes in our body are modifying the drug for excretion (in urine or feces).  The picture with the crazy arrows shows how P450s (detoxi​​​fying enzymes)​ in our body modify drugs.    

The class is taught by Dr. Justin Maresh​.  I had him for biochemistry 2 and 3 as well as a proteins course.  His teaching style is fantastic and it really shows that he cares about students learning the material, not just for a test, but so that we are more informed citizens and scientists who can apply concepts to specific problems.  He’s certainly one of my favorite professors that I’ve had.  

We just spent a couple of weeks focusing on the major classes of antibiotics (drugs that target bacteria).  Of particular interest is knowing the target of the drug (for instance, pen​icillins​ disrupt the formation of the peptidoglycan, the protective layer of protein/sugars that bacteria have), the structural features characteristic of that class, and the ways that bacteria develop resistance to those antibiotics.  The content is highly relevant for anyone interested in health and medicine!  There are non-chemistry majors in the class as well, it’s that neat!  The picture below summarizes the major ways that different antibiotics target bacteria.​

 Don't get caught up in the specifics of what I've said above.  What I'm trying to say is that waiting for my elective classes has been well worth the wait.  Looking at my class list freshman year, it seemed like it would take forever until I got to the elective classes for my major.  But, the content I learned in those general classes was crucial for my electives, and I've really enjoyed getting to focus in on the type of science that I'm most interested in.  ​
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