Drug Development &

When scientists look for new drugs, they use a wide range of different techniques and approaches. Chemistry, biology, and even – sometimes – venomous snails are involved in the process.

How to Use this Video


In this video, we talk to chemists and biologists that study molecules that might become potential drugs. How do they begin their search? Why is it important to know what these molecules look like?

Find the video below, as well as some of the important Science Senses it relates to including using models, testing hypotheses, and understanding the difference between hypothesis-driven work and question-driven work.

Have thoughts about the video? What resources or activities have you used to teach this topic in your class? We’d love to know – share your voice by sending us a message below 🙂


Science Senses Featured in this Video

Knowledge sense

Using models

Using multiple lines of evidence to support conclusions

Understanding the difference between hypothesis-driven work and question-driven work

Testing hypotheses  

Activities & Lesson Plans

Clinical trials and experimental design – discussing or having students evaluate clinical trials is a great opportunity to get into details about experimental design. Why are controls necessary? What is blinding and why is it needed? How do ethical decisions play a role? Students could also propose experiments for hypothetical drugs.

Modeling – both physical and mathematical models play an important role in drug discovery and development. The Foldit computer game allows students to explore some basic chemical rules and how they can be combined with human puzzle solving skills to model proteins.

Statistics and drugs – statistical analysis of drug experiments lends itself to discussions and activities about how to calculate effect size and risk and how to statistically control for possible confounding factors.


Holford et al. 2009. Pruning nature: Biodiversity-derived discovery of novel sodium channel blocking conotoxins from Conus bullatus. Toxicon 53:90-98.

Mullard. 2012. Drug repurposing programs get lift off. Nature. 11:1-2.

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