Pre-College Programs
Summer@Brown Courses

« Return to Course Catalog

The Life of a Drug: from Discovery to Market

One Section Available to Choose From:

Course DatesWeeksMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRN
June 15, 2015 - June 26, 20152M-F 12:15-3:05POpenDiana Horrigan10637

Course Description

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like without Tylenol or penicillin? How were these drugs discovered? How did they become so popular? Pharmaceutical companies spend over 1 billion dollars developing just one new drug and getting it to the market. Why does it cost so much money? In this course you will find out the answers to these questions and get a look behind the scenes of the pharmaceutical industry.

We will begin by exploring how some of the earliest drugs were discovered and produced for the masses. We will also discuss how the process has changed over the past 80 years as drug companies search for new ways to treat some of the most devastating and common diseases like Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and bacterial infections, particularly in the age of drug resistance.

Whether you are interested in how scientific research is done or have a more general interest in learning about treatments for disease, then this course is for you. We will also explore other aspects of the pharmaceuticals such as how chemists, doctors, statisticians, lawyers, patients and even the general public all play a vital role in getting a new drug to the marketplace where it can be used to treat those who need it most!

After taking this course you will:


  • Have an appreciation for the process of drug discovery.

  • Have the inside scoop on the modern day challenges involved in drug discovery.

  • Be able to answer the "billion dollar question": Why does it take so much money to make a new drug?

  • Hopefully, be inspired to consider a career in scientific research and/or drug discovery.


No prerequisites are required, just an appreciation and interest for biology and/or chemistry.