Biomedical Sciences: Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry - UTU Masters
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Master's Degree Programme in

Biomedical Sciences: Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry

Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Turku

HOW TO FIND, IDENTIFY, DESIGN AND TARGET NEW DRUGS?

THE MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAMME IN BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES – MEDICINAL AND RADIOPHARMACEUTICAL CHEMISTRY SPECIALISATION TRACK EQUIPPES YOU WITH THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL SKILLS IN DRUG SCREENING, IDENTIFICATION, DESIGN AND TARGETING
THE APPLICATION PERIOD FOR THE STUDIES STARTING IN AUTUMN 2019 IS 3 DECEMBER 2018 – 31 JANUARY 2019.

The programme provides you with strong knowledge on one or more of the following topics: design and synthesis of new drugs, radiolabelling and enhanced targeting of drugs, or screening, isolation and modification of new drug candidates from bioactive plants. In addition, you will learn to master the state-of-the-art methods needed for the full identification of drug molecules and for their quantitation from different types of tissues and metabolite mixtures.

Our programme offers you three options, all covering the chemistry of drug development from slightly different perspectives: bio-organic chemistry, radiopharmaceutical chemistry and natural compound chemistry. You can either choose to learn to synthesize drugs and drug components yourself, or let them be produced by plants first and then learn how to isolate and perhaps modify the plant-derived compounds to enhance their activity. Radiochemistry is then needed to developed techniques for labelling of drug candidates so that their distribution can be first monitored in vivo by positron emission tomography (PET) techniques and then the targeting optimized by further modifications. Our approach gives you strong hands-on knowledge on medicinal chemistry, since practical laboratory work forms the soul of our programme.

PROGRAMME IN BRIEF

Programme structure

Figure 1. Students of Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry choose one of the three Thematic Modules for their specialization, but they may take courses from all the modules as optional courses.

Figure 2. The timing of studies in Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry. All students take the same core courses, and specialize by studying the thematic courses and related laboratory. projects and by making the master’s thesis under the same thematic research area (Bio-organic Chemistry, Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry, or Natural Compound Chemistry). Optional courses may be taken from the other thematic modules or from other spesialisation tracks, such as Drug Discovery and Development.

Figure 3. The core courses are shared between the three thematic modules, but they all have their own thematic courses. Students choose one of the thematic modules, but may take courses from other themes as optional courses as well.

Academic excellence & experience

Our approach on medicinal and radiopharmaceutical chemistry is a unique combination of research areas that are closely related, but that require different type of expertise, if you really want to master one of the areas. All of the three options we offer you are represented by well-established, top of the line research groups: Bioorganic Group, Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry Group, and Natural Chemistry Research Group. You need to choose your orientation between these groups, but you may take courses from all of them. This way you are able to specialize, but at the same time acquire wide enough knowledge on the relevant topics related to the chemistry of drug development.

The main target in studies of Bio-organic Chemistry is to master the key concepts of organic reactions, stereochemistry and physical organic chemistry. This way the student can design and execute organic syntheses and understand chemical biology. The Bioorganic Group is specialized into the synthesis of biopolymers (oligonucleotides, oligosaccharides and peptides), their interaction mechanisms at the molecular level and to the application of this knowledge into solving medicinal problems.

Students of Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry can specialize into radiochemistry, i.e. the synthesis and use of short-lived, isotopically labelled positron emitting organic tracers. These tracers are used in positron emission tomography (PET) that enables imaging of biochemical processes in vivo in both health and disease. The synthesis of radiotracers involves both low molecular weight small molecules as well as macromolecules, typically peptides, proteins and their fragments. Teaching of radiopharmaceutical chemistry takes place in close collaboration with the Turku PET Centre, a National Institute jointly owned by the University of Turku, the Åbo Akademi University and the Hospital District of Southwestern Finland.

With Natural Compound Chemistry you learn to master numerous chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques together with other methods used for characterization and activity measurement of plant-derived biomolecules. The Natural Chemistry Research Group is specialized into the screening of the plant kingdom for bioactive molecules, especially large polyphenols such as ellagitannins. The screening phase can be accompanied by purification of active substances and measuring their structure/activity relationships, or developing new activity methods.

The facilities of Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry are state-of-the-art. We have direct access to the Turku PET Centre preclinical and clinical groups. The PET Centre has four cyclotrons for radionuclide production and 25 hot cells for radiotracer synthesis. At the Department of Chemistry we have recently updated NMR facilities with modern 500 and 600 MHz magnets with cryo-probes that facilitate operation at low drug concentrations. We have direct access to UPLC-MS/MS instruments with both triple quadrupole and high-resolution mass spectrometry detectors. An efficient ECD spectrometer complements the equipment needed for the accurate identification of the produced and purified drug candidates. To know how to master these equipment and techniques is a true advantage to the chemist who graduates from our programme.

Master's thesis & topics

Studies in Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry combine theory and practise in an optimal manner so that you have ample chances of gaining hands-on knowledge on different aspects of chemistry of drug development. This is obtained by many courses having lab practicals and by the Oriented Laboratory Project that is a five-week period of laboratory work on some specific challenge related to one of the three thematic research areas.

 

After the Oriented Laboratory Project you have an excellent chance to use your gained knowledge and expertise in the Master’s Laboratory Project that will form the basis for your Master’s Thesis as well. This five months lasting laboratory project is a crucial and customized part of a true research project taking place in one of the thematic research groups. Alternatively, you have a chance to do the Master’s Laboratory Project in some other Finnish University or abroad, depending on the project details and collaborators available for the project.

After the Master’s Laboratory Project is finalized, you will prepare the Master’s Thesis on the very same or similar topic as the lab project. All this is naturally done under the guidance of a supervisor. Your thesis writing process will benefit from the simultaneous Thesis Seminars, where students discuss of challenges related to their projects, and will present their results both orally and via poster presentations.

Examples of thesis topics:

  • Fluorescent oligonucleotide probes for screening high-affinity nucleobase surrogates
  • Solid-supported NOTA and DOTA chelators useful for the synthesis of 3′-radiometalated oligonucleotides
  • Solution-phase synthesis of short oligo-2′-deoxyribonucleotides using clustered nucleosides as a soluble support
  • 18F-labelled nitrogen-fluorine-bond containing radiolabeling precursors
  • Production of 11C-methylated radiopharmaceuticals
  • New quantitation methods for and screening of anthocyanin-tannin adducts in 300 red wine varieties
  • Isolation, purification and structure/activity studies on rare ellagitannins of the Onagraceae plant family
  • Enhancement of anthelmintic activities of plant metabolites by chemical modifications

 

BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES AT TURKU UNIVERSITIES

BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES AT TURKU UNIVERSITIES

Turku has longstanding research traditions in the field of biomedicine. Especially the areas of drug discovery, diagnostics, and biological and medical imaging represent the top-level expertise of the University of Turku.

The Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry specialization track is part of the MSc Programme in Biomedical Sciences, which is a collaboration of two universities, the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University. The close co-operation of four biomedical programmes forms a unique educational combination of biomedical sciences in Finland and worldwide.

The programme in Biomedical Sciences is managed together by the Faculties of Medicine, and Science and Engineering at the University of Turku.

The offered education is based on the true research strengths of the participating units:

  • Department of Chemistry at the University of Turku
  • Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Turku
  • Department of Biochemistry at the University of Turku
  • Department of Biosciences at the Åbo Akademi University.

Other specialisation tracks of the Master´s Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences are Biomedical Imaging, Drug Discovery and Development, and Molecular Biotechnology and Diagnostics. Major subject studies in each are track-specific but can be offered as selectable studies for all the study tracks. Each student makes a personal study plan which helps to select the courses that best suit for personal interests and background of the student.

Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry track has close connections to the pharma industry at the Turku region. The companies provide the students with opportunities to do the Master’s Laboratory Project in their facilities or in collaboration. They may offer internships and job opportunities for the graduates as well. In addition, all the three research groups included in the Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry have large collaborative networks in Europe and elsewhere globally. These can be utilized just like the local pharma companies for the Master’s Laboratory Project, if such collaboration is seen to offer clear benefits for the student.

CAREER OPTIONS

Competence description

After completing the studies, depending on your specialization, you will

  • know how to design and execute multistep synthesis routes to produce organic compounds
  • know the special requirements to work in the radiopharmaceutical chemistry laboratory
  • know the basics of bioimaging
  • know how to design and execute synthesis routes for compounds used in bioimaging
  • know how to isolate and purify organic compounds
  • know how to characterize structures of organic compounds
  • understand how reactivity and bioactivity is related both to the structure and reaction conditions
  • know the chemical properties, functionality and biological significance of biopolymers and their structural units
  • know the classes of plant bioactive compounds, their biosynthesis routes and chemical properties and their most important structure/activity-relationships
  • be able to use and develop liquid chromatographic and mass spectrometric methods
  • know how to measure different types of bioactivities for pure compounds and compound mixtures, and to develop new types of activity methods
Job options

You will be equipped with skills that provide you with multiple career options. You will be able to join the industry in Finland or abroad, or to enter the public sector, for example, in various authoritative duties.

The studies in Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry provide excellent possibilities for a career in life sciences. For example, you can:

  • continue as a postgraduate student to pursue a career as a scientist
  • work in industry as a researcher or quality manager
  • work in a core facility management taking care of e.g. the mass spectrometers
  • work in science administration nationally or internationally
  • work in hospital research laboratories
  • be a product manager or a project coordinator
Career in research

The Master of Science degree completed in the Programme qualifies the graduates for PhD studies in Turku, elsewhere in Finland or universities worldwide.

Graduates from the programme are eligible to apply for a position in the University of Turku Graduate School, UTUGS.  The Graduate School consists of 16 doctoral programmes, which cover all disciplines and doctoral candidates of the University.

Together with the doctoral programmes, the Graduate School provides systematic and high quality doctoral training. UTUGS aims to train highly qualified experts with the skills required for both professional career in research and other positions of expertise.

Several doctoral programmes at University of Turku are available for graduates:

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

General degree requirements

A BSc degree that formally qualifies the applicant to access Master’s level studies in the country where it has been completed. This degree should correspond to at least 180 ECTS (European credits) or to a minimum of three years of full-time study.

OR

A polytechnic degree from a Finnish University of Applied Sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu). Students with such degree might however be required to complete additional studies while studying for the Master’s degree to qualify for Master’s degree studies (see Additional studies).

Track-Specific Requirements

The degree on basis of which you are applying to the MDP in Biomedical Sciences must be in a relevant field of study. For the Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry track such fields are

  • chemistry
  • molecular biosciences
  • biochemistry
  • biomedical sciences
  • bioengineering
  • other life sciences
  • pharmacology
  • pharmacy
  • medical sciences

The applicants should also be familiar with the basics of laboratory practice. Both Finnish and foreign students can apply to the programme.

The applicants will have to put the specialisation tracks they are applying to into an order of preference upon application.

Additional studies

The contents of formally eligible applicants’ previous degrees do not always correspond to the academic level of the programme. Therefore admitted students can be advised or required to complete additional, Bachelor level studies (see language requirements) while studying for the Master’s Degree. These studies are not part of the Master’s Degree and may extend the targeted study time. The extent and contents of the additional studies are defined individually for each student when a personal study plan is formulated in the beginning of the studies. The amount of required additional studies cannot exceed 60 ECTS.

Since the language of instruction in Bachelor’s level at the University of Turku is Finnish, an applicant needing additional studies can be required to submit proof for Finnish skills during the application process (see Language requirements). In case such proof is not submitted, the applicant needing additional studies must be rejected.

Scoring

Applications are evaluated by the admission committee of the Master’s Degree Programme. The applicant is scored separately for each track s/he is applying to. The admission committee also interviews the best scoring applicants in each specialization track. The interview invitations will be sent by e-mail. If the applicant is not reached for the interview, the application will not be processed further.

Following application components are scored:

  • Compatibility of the background studies 0-4 p. (0 p. = insufficient, 1p = sufficient relevance, 2 p. = good relevance, 3 p. = excellent relevance, 4 p. = outstanding relevance)
  • Previous academic success and study history 0-3 p. (0 p. = insufficient/not suitable, 1 p. = sufficient, 2 p. = good, 3 p. = excellent. Here it should be noted, that if the applicant has already an MSc degree(s) or higher, or is already studying at University of Turku, it is not necessarily considered to be beneficial.)
  • Laboratory working experience 0-3 p. (0 p. = no experience, 1 p. = laboratory course work as part of previous studies, 2 p. or 3 p. = additional experience which is not directly included in the previous studies, e.g. internships, summer projects, other working experience)
  • Motivation letter 0-3 p. (0 p. = insufficient, 1 p. = somewhat motivated, 2 p. = sufficient and well-justified motivation, 3 p. = excellent motivation)
  • The interview performance and the English skills during the interview are both scored on scale 0-3 p. (0 p. = insufficient, 1 p. = satisfactory, 2 p. = good, 3 p. = excellent).
  • Completing a pre-assignment task during the interview (0-3 p.).

If the applicant scores 0 p. in any of the components, the application will not be processed further. In the case of the same amount of points, all of the applicants with the same score will be selected.

Language Requirements

All applicants must prove their knowledge of English in one of the ways accepted by the Faculty.

Applicants seeking admission on the basis of a polytechnic degree from a Finnish University of Applied Sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu) may be asked to prove their proficiency in Finnish language also if they are required to complete such additional Bachelor’s level studies that are available only in Finnish.

HOW AND WHEN TO APPLY

Application Form and Enclosures

The application form for the studies starting in autumn 2019 is available online during the application period on 3 December 2018 at 8:00 (local time in Finland) – 31 January 2019 at 15:00 (local time in Finland, GMT +2). On the same form you can apply for any of the four tracks in the Biomedical Sciences programme. Enclosures are attached to the application in digital form (pdf).

During one application round to the international Master’s Degree Programmes the applicant may apply to a maximum of three Programmes at the University of Turku.

If you are graduating only after the deadline, you may apply on the condition that the required application documents are submitted and arrive at the University of Turku by 8 July 2019 at 15:00 (local time in Finland).

STEP 1: Collect the required application documents

The following documents must be scanned and attached to the electronic application (in pdf format, in color) at the Studyinfo portal:

  • The original degree certificate (in the original language) AND an English, Finnish or Swedish translation (or an English-language Diploma Supplement concerning graduates from European universities) of the degree certificate.
  • The original transcript of study records (in the original language) AND an English, Finnish or Swedish translation (or an English-language Diploma Supplement concerning graduates from European universities) of the transcript of records.
  • Certificate of knowledge of English (see Language requirements).

 

In addition, the following enclosure is required to help in handling of the applications, and identifying the applicants in the interview:

  • Copy of information page of the passport or identification card containing the applicant’s name, date of birth and photo

 

It is possible to attach additional documents, such as CV or work certificates, which provide more information about the applicant.

All translations must be made either by an authorized translator or by the degree awarding institution. Each page of an official translation must bear the translator’s stamp and/or signature. Official translations must be exact translations of the original documents. Translations done by the applicant him- or herself are not accepted.

STEP 2: Write a motivation letter

Prepare a motivation letter to be copy-pasted on the application form. The letter of motivation is an important factor in considering the applicant’s suitability to the programme and will be scored so please prepare it carefully. Please notice that the motivation letter may be checked for plagiarism with the Turnitin system of the University of Turku.

Also be prepared to describe the grading scale used at your institution at the time of your studies. The grading scale must include all the grades and marks appearing on your transcript of records and their relation to each other. You should also provide a link to an official website where this information can be verified. (In many cases this information is already included in the transcript of records.)

The application form also includes track specific questions the answers of which will be scored. Therefore reserve some time for filling in the application form.

STEP 3: Fill in the application form

The application form is filled online in the Studyinfo portal. Please search at www.studyinfo.fi for the Master’s Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences. The application form is available and a completed application can be updated until the end of the application period on 31 January 2019 at 15.00 (GMT +2). When filling in the form you should select the specialization track of the Master´s Degree Programme in Biomedical Sciences to which you will apply. If you wish to apply for several tracks, you’ll have to put them in the order of preference.

Admission

The yearly quota is 40 students shared out to the four specialization fields.  The admission decisions are published by 29 March 2019. All applicants will be informed by email, but also hard copies are sent upon request. All students are required to start in the beginning of the autumn semester, and there is no separate admission for the spring semester.

 

The admitted applicant will have to show the originals of his/her educational documents (degree certificate and transcript of study records) at the University of Turku after arrival in Finland. Depending on the country the original documents may have to be attested or legalized. Please see the country specific requirements for the submission of the documents upon arrival already before applying.

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Master’s Degree Programme in

Biomedical Sciences: Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry track

UNIVERSITY OF TURKU

Degree: Master of Sciences

Duration: 2 academic years, 120 ECTS credits

Mode of study: Full-time

Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science and Engineering

Location: Turku, Finland

Language of instruction: English

Start date: August/September 2019

Application period: 3 Dec 2018 – 31 Jan 2019

Tuition fee for citizens of EU/EEA countries or Switzerland:  None

Tuition fee for citizens of non-EU/EEA countries:  €12,000

Scholarships available: check the website

CONTACT INFORMATION

Email: master-sci@utu.fi

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