Academic Drug Discovery

Academic Drug Discovery is a fully virtual, self-paced course designed to introduce you to the exciting world of Drug Discovery. The course is a collaboration between Fast Forward Medical Innovation and Michigan Drug Discovery, with support from Innovation Partnerships.

As you progress through each unit, you will learn the individual steps and critical stages for any drug discovery project, with a particular focus on projects being conducted within the academic environment at the University of Michigan. The lessons in this course – developed by 18 different subject matter experts – focus primarily on small molecule therapeutics, however, many of the points illustrated apply equally to other kinds of drugs, including antibodies and RNA.

Course Goals:

  • Define consistent academic drug discovery terms, concepts, and strategies
  • Outline and describe the critical stages and individual development steps within the academic drug discovery process
  • Identify and access relevant drug discovery resources, including for development, funding, and mentorship

Target Audience:

  • Physician-scientists
  • Basic scientists
  • Postdoctoral and other trainees

Course Completion and Obtaining Your Certificate:

This course has up to 20 hours of instruction, which can be navigated freely, allowing you to select individual lesson topics or units that are especially pertinent to your research today. You are not required to take the whole course, but if you are engaged in drug discovery, it is recommended that you become cognizant of all the different aspects and considerations involved in the discovery of a novel therapeutic agent.

If you wish to obtain a certificate of completion, you must complete the entire course. Completion includes passing each end of lesson quiz with a score of 80% or higher. Once completed, you will find your certificate available for download/print within the Canvas course.


Course Outline

Unit 1: Introduction to Drug Discovery

Overview of Drug Discovery
U-M Drug Discovery Ecosystem

Unit 2: Assessing Commercial Potential

Unmet Clinical Need
Market Dynamics
Intellectual Property
Target Product Profile
Commercial Pathway

Unit 3: Advancing Drug Discovery Projects

Target Identification and Validation
Assay Development and Finding Chemical Matter
Lead Selection
Lead Optimization
In Vivo Assays
Candidate Selection (Pharmaceuticals/Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls)
Pre-IND Studies

Unit 4: Entering the Clinical Phase

Filing an IND
Clinical Trials

U-M users log in using your Level 1 password and the course will appear on your dashboard. Non-U-M users can log in using the Guest Social option.


Contact Jon Servoss, Director of Commercialization Education, at

November 18, 2022