U of Arizona Health Sciences to offer course in developing, commercializing medical treatment

A new course at the University of Arizona in Tucson will partner students with medicinal chemists to develop new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, before connecting them with local entrepreneurs to learn about bringing the treatments to market.

"Designing Drugs: From Chemistry to Cure" will be offered through the university's colleges of medicine and pharmacy beginning in January 2020. Students will be grouped into small teams to develop unique drug compounds to treat Alzheimer's, guided by a university medicinal chemist and drug discovery experts from pharmaceutical companies and the university's law and entrepreneurship programs.

At the end of the course, each team will pitch their compounds and potential startup companies in a Shark Tank-style competition. A panel of judges comprising business and law students, entrepreneurial faculty members, pharmaceutical company researchers and leaders from Tech Launch Arizona, the university's commercialization arm, will determine which of the groups will receive seed funding from the university to launch their companies.

"We are bringing people together from multiple disciplines across the university, as well as entrepreneurs from the community, to challenge our students to make a difference in the world while they are still in school. This will prepare them to thrive in an environment that fuses the digital, physical and biological worlds to address health challenges," said course leader May Khanna, PhD, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the UArizona College of Medicine — Tucson and a member of the UArizona Health Sciences Center for Innovation in Brain Science.

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