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HMX Pro Pharmacology
Drug Discovery

Learn how various therapeutic modalities are discovered.

The field of drug discovery and development is multifaceted and evolving quickly, allowing researchers to continually expand their toolkit of therapeutic modalities to treat and manage diseases.

This course offers a comprehensive exploration of various drug modalities, including small molecules, cell therapies, and protein and nucleic acid therapeutics, and provides learners with the tools to navigate the foundational and cutting-edge methodologies in developing novel therapeutics.

This advanced course offers a unique way for professionals to learn from leading Harvard Medical School faculty and experts in the field about the processes of drug discovery.

Course Topics

Overview of Drug Discovery

  • The Promise of Drug Discovery

Discovery of Small Molecule Drugs

  • In Focus: How TPP and IND Guide and Frame Drug Discovery
  • Local Administration for Systemic Effect
  • Local Administration for Local Effect
  • Systemic Administration for Systemic Effect
  • Systemic Administration for Local Effect
  • Clinical Linkage: Closed Loop Systems
  • In Focus: Spectroscopy Methods
  • Clinical Linkage: Discovery of Small Molecule Protein Degraders

Discovery of Biologics and Nucleic Acid Therapeutics

  • Naturally Occurring Proteins
  • Step-by-Step: Protein Purification
  • Discovery of Monoclonal Antibodies
  • In Focus: Phage Display
  • Pharmacokinetics of Protein Therapeutics
  • Creative Proteins
  • Overview of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics
  • Discovery of siRNA Therapeutics
  • Discovery of PMO Exon Skippers
  • Discovery of mRNA Therapeutics
  • Clinical Linkage: Discovery of Protein and Nucleic Acid Therapeutics

Discovery of Cell Therapies

  • Background
  • Toolkit
  • Cell Modifications
  • Toxicology and Specifications Unique to Cell Therapies
  • Measuring Bioactivity in a Pre-clinical Setting
  • Ongoing Challenges
  • Clinical Linkage: Cell Therapy Manufacturing


  • The Future of Drug Discovery

Download the Drug Discovery course outline

Course Instructors

Liza Wick.

Liza Wick, PhD

Research Associate in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School
Pharmacology Curriculum Lead, HMX

Lyn Jones.

Lyn Jones, PhD

Research Associate, Harvard Medical School
Director of the Center for Protein Degradation, Dana–Farber Cancer Institute

Art Krieg.

Art Krieg, MD

Professor, RNA Therapeutics Institute, UMass Chan Medical School
Founder and former CSO, Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Marcela Maus.

Marcela Maus, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Paula O-Keeffe Endowed Chair, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
Director, Cellular Immunotherapy Program and Attending Physician, Bone Marrow Transplant and Cell Therapy Division of Hematology/Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Jeffery Way.

Jeffrey Way, PhD

Lecturer, Harvard Medical School

More Information

Frequently asked questions

Who should take this course?

This course is designed for professionals in health care, life sciences, and related industries who want to have a better understanding of drug delivery for their work.

What do participants need to know to succeed in this course?

We recommend basic knowledge of chemistry, biology, and physics, as well as an understanding of key pharmacology concepts. If you need further background in pharmacology, we also offer an introductory course, HMX Pro Pharmacology – Essentials.

Not sure? Take this short quiz to gauge your knowledge of pharmacology concepts.

What is the time commitment?

Most people can expect to spend around 15–20 hours total, but this depends on your baseline knowledge, how carefully you take notes, and how seriously you take the assessments. New course material is released periodically, and remains available until the course period ends, so participants can work at their own pace. There is a final exam at the end of each course that can be taken any time during the final exam period.

Can participants earn certificates from Harvard Medical School?

There are two certification levels, based on participant scores:

  • Certificate of Achievement
  • Certificate of Completion