Drug Discovery and Development Course
woman in lab with microscope

Fast Forward Medical Innovation

We offer a fully virtual, self-paced course designed to introduce participants to the drug discovery process. 

The Drug Discovery and Development Course is a collaboration between Fast Forward Medical Innovation and Michigan Drug Discovery, with support from Innovation Partnerships. As participants progress through each unit, they 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.

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Fast Forward Medical Innovation offers a comprehensive collection of educational programs and training tailored for busy faculty, students, clinicians, and researchers across the University of Michigan, and across the state, region, and nation.

Programs & Courses
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


Basic scientists

Postdoctoral researchers and other trainees

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

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.

Contact Us
North Campus Research Complex (NCRC)
Building 520, 3rd Floor
2800 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2800
Phone: 734-615-5060
About Us
Fast Forward Medical Innovation is a unit of the Medical School Office of Research, where our mission is to foster an environment of innovation and efficiency that serves the Michigan Medicine research community and supports biomedical science from insight to impact.