Practical Aspects of Small Molecule Drug Discovery: At the Interface of Biology, Chemistry and Pharmacology

17–22 June 2018

Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton, UK


Increasingly, scientists across disciplines in leading research
institutions, and small and medium-sized companies are expanding from
their strength into early-stage drug discovery. However, this transition
requires successfully combining multiple disciplines including
biochemistry, medicinal and computational chemistry, pharmacokinetics,
pharmacology and project management, the breadth of which can present
organisational, knowledge and competence challenges for institutions and

This biennial lecture- and discussion-based course is highly interactive
and provides scientists of all disciplines with a broad introduction to
the theoretical, practical and organisational aspects of small molecule
drug discovery.

Each topic-based lecture mixes presentations with discussion sessions and
case histories to develop the key aspects highlighted in the talk.
Additional discussion-based practical sessions will build on the lectures
to illustrate the strategic planning of drug discovery programmes,
including the development of target product profiles, compound
progression criteria and scientific strategy.

Feedback from the 2016 course

“Great opportunity to meet participants from across the globe, some
of whom may become collaborators or colleagues!!”
“Thanks for a great course. My first at Wellcome and if all are run like
this I will be coming back for more!”
“Thank you for giving me the rare opportunity to learn from experts in
the field. The distilled wisdom gained from the life long experience of
the experts is highly beneficial for my future work and decision making
“Great, well run course. Thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a lot.”
“Wish to thank the organizers for providing me with this opportunity to
attend this fantastic course!”
“The course was outstanding and provided the perfect entry point into the
drug discovery process.”
“The course is beyond expectation.”
“Fantastic course — very well run with outstanding lectures.”


The week-long programme will include lectures and discussions covering
the following topics:

  • Project management and organisation of multi-disciplinary projects
  • Target discovery and validation
  • Hit discovery options
  • Fragment based drug discovery
  • Phenotypic screening and mode of action elucidation
  • Screening set selection, storage and quality control
  • Screening cascades, assay development and quality control
  • Data mining
  • Introduction to pharmacokinetics
  • Principles of compound optimisation and case histories
  • In silico approaches to drug design
  • Intellectual property strategy
  • Data packages required for out licensing and partnering
  • An introduction to preclinical and clinical development

Learning Outcomes
After attending the course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the overall drug discovery process and its relationship to the participants’ specific disciplines.
  • Explain the major technical aspects of the drug discovery process, starting with target selection to compound screening to designing lead candidates
  • Describe and evaluate current modern drug discovery concepts (which attempt to identify high quality drug candidates) using either a target-based or phenotypic approach to tackle the related disease
  • Compare  multiple drug discovery tools and methods used for finding, identifying and designing a new drug
  • Identify the pre-clinical steps to gain assurance that it is safe and appropriate to initiate clinical evaluation of the candidate
  • Assess and evaluate the processes, chemistry and formulation aspects which impact on early drug development
  • Explain the clinical development process
  • Recognise the commercial importance of intellectual property

Instructors and speakers

Course Directors
Paul Wyatt
Director of the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research, Head of the
Drug Discovery Unit, University of Dundee, UK
Mary Donnelly
MDPharmasolutions, ex-GSK

Guest Lecturers
Each course is presented by a prestigious panel of guest lecturers from
industry, academia and leading not-for-profit organisations. Guest
lecturers in previous years have included senior representatives with
experience of working for multiple major Pharma, Biotech and Contract
Research companies, including:

  • Pfizer
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • AstraZeneca
  • Astex Pharmaceuticals
  • Charles River Laboratories
  • European Bioinformatics Institute
  • Medical Research Council Technology
  • University of Dundee
  • Albany Regulatory Consulting Limited
  • Imperial College

How to apply

Applications are invited from academic or commercial backgrounds in
relevant fields, e.g:

  • new postdoctoral recruits to already established facilities
  • postdoctoral grade researchers in small or medium sized companies
  • senior investigators considering entering the field
  • recipients, and their staff, of Seeding Drug Discovery project funding
  • established investigators seeking further professional development

can be submitted online
. Places are limited and will be awarded on
merit. If you have any problems with the online application process,
please contact

Please note: Applications
must be supported by a
recommendation from a scientific or clinical sponsor (e.g. supervisor,
line manager, or head of department). A request for a supporting
statement will be sent to your nominated sponsor automatically during
the application process. Applicants must ensure that their sponsor
provides this supporting statement by the application deadline.
Applications without a supporting statement cannot be


Travel visas
Please contact the
event organiser if you require a letter to support a travel visa
application to the UK. Note that letters will only be provided to confirmed attendees.

Non-European Economic Area or Swiss nationals may be required to have a
visa to enter the UK.
Early application is strongly advised, as this process can take 6-8 weeks
or longer.

Please visit the following websites for further information:
UK Border Agency website and information for general visitors and business


The course is subsidised by the Wellcome Genome Campus Advanced Courses
and Scientific Conferences Programme. This is a residential course and
the fee is £640, including all accommodation and meals.

Limited bursaries are
available (up to a 50% reduction of the course
fee) and are awarded on merit. If you would like to apply for a
please complete the bursary section of the online application

Please note that both the applicant
and sponsor are required to provide
a justification for the
bursary as part of the application.

Additional funding opportunities
our Funding webpage
for additional funding opportunities currently


Bursary terms and conditions

UK Courses (held at the Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton,
limited number of bursaries are available for each course. These are
awarded by the selection committee according to merit. The bursary
covers a maximum of 50% of the course fee, though in exceptional
circumstances an application for the total course fee may be considered.
Where there are many bursary applications, the selection committee may
issue smaller amounts. We cannot assist with travel costs to attend UK

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