The Oncology Drug Discovery MSc (Res) course is designed to provide an insight into how existing and future drug targets are identified from biological samples isolated from the cancer clinic. This will include an industrial viewpoint into what makes an interesting target and how, through an iterative process, this target is validated. In addition, lectures will be provided to discuss how ‘hit’ compounds are identified, in both the academic and industrial setting, using compound screen assays and fragment-based screening technologies. We will also provide an insight into computational methods for generating chemical ‘hits’. The module will also cover how these ‘hit’ compounds are prosecuted into tool compounds or Lead Optimisation candidates (LO), both historic and modern, that are used to further validate a potential drug target.
During this second module, we will provide an insight into the challenges of moving a compound from an LO candidate to a pre-clinical candidate. How bio-marker companion tests are developed, validated and are used to underpin clinical trials. The lectures will also provide a keen insight into novel formulation strategies currently under development within Queen’s University Belfast. In addition, we will also provide an insight into the development of biotherapeutics, such as antibodies, that are proving to be a powerful alternative to small molecule-based therapeutics.
The strong links between us and the biotech and bio-pharmaceutical sectors provide a stimulating translational environment, while also expanding your career opportunities.
The partnership with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the School of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomedical Sciences provides an opportunity to study in the USA. This 4-year Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) provides students with the opportunity to undertake a postgraduate taught programme in Year 1 at QUB, followed by a PhD at NCI in Years 2-4.
Research projects will be provided by both academic staff and local biotech companies in ground-breaking research areas with a strong focus on clinical applications.
The Oncology Drug Discovery course will be taught and mentored within the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology: a purpose-built institute at the heart of the Health Sciences Campus, boasting state-of-the-art research facilities.
Internationally Renowned Experts
We have an international reputation in this area, achieved through high-impact peer-review publications significant international research funding, the establishment of successful spin-out companies.
Learning and Teaching
Learning opportunities associated with this course are outlined below:
At Queen’s, we aim to deliver a high-quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable students to achieve their full academic potential.
On this course, we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners.
Class times vary throughout morning, afternoon and evening, and through a combination of course lectures, practical experiences and Self-directed study to enhance employability.
Students perform their research project throughout the programme, which may necessitate working (under supervision) at out-of-hours times, including weekends.
Assessment is by a combination of oral presentations, lab book writing and written assignments. The research project is also written up as a dissertation thesis.