Test your knowledge of medicinal chemistry

Make teaching and learning of medicinal chemistry easier with this self-assessment text.

‘Medicinal chemistry self assessment’, by Robin M. Zavod, Marc W. Harrold

Medicinal chemistry has always been a tough course to teach and a source of frustration for many students. This self-assessment text is the only publication of its kind and it has made both teaching and learning much easier. As an engaging way for pharmacy students to master the complexities of medicinal chemistry, it reinforces what was learnt in class with practice problems and review questions that are answered at the end of the book.

The book and its related online content are also handy teaching tools, as well as a source of new problem formats and strategies for exploring concepts from different perspectives. Zavod and Harrold’s approach provides a clear translation of organic chemistry concepts into medicinal chemistry language, and includes numerous clinically relevant examples, relating medicinal chemistry to therapeutic decisions.

The authors had two goals in mind when they wrote the book. The first was to help students to reinforce their basic knowledge and the second was to have students put all their evaluation skills together and assess all the functional groups within a given drug molecule.

The early chapters focus on eight fundamental types of evaluation: identification of functional groups that contribute to water and lipid solubility; the role of electron withdrawing and donating functional groups; identification of acidic and basic functional groups; the use of the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation to solve pH and pK problems; the formation of inorganic and organic salts of specific functional groups; interaction chemistry between drug molecules and biological drug targets; spatial orientation of functional groups; and metabolic routes of drug activation, inactivation and elimination.

Twenty drugs that span an equivalent number of drug classes have been selected as representative models for whole molecule evaluation. They include cetirizine, dabigatran, fluvoxamine, hydrocortisone and rivastigmine.

The questions challenge students to anticipate what could happen to a drug molecule (what metabolites could be formed), as well as to provide an explanation for an observed pharmacodynamic (mechanism of action) or pharmacokinetic (percentage orally bioavailable) parameter, based on the information gleaned from the structure evaluation process.

Although this book is designed to allow students to conduct self-assessment of their knowledge, other readers will also derive great benefit. Staff who teach organic chemistry to pharmacy students and other healthcare students will find the problem-solving approach useful in enhancing student engagement. The format of the workbook is readily amenable to modification.

As valuable enhancement to any medicinal chemistry text, this book will also be helpful for students learning organic chemistry or biochemistry, as well as for practitioners who want to renew their understanding of medicinal chemistry.


‘Medicinal chemistry self assessment’, by Robin M Zavod, Marc W Harrold. Pp ix+242. Price US$39. Maryland: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; 2015. ISBN 978 1 58528 464 1

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 5 September 2015, Vol 295, No 7878;295(7878):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20068878