Inside the Classroom: Chemistry 130B
Inside the Classroom: Chemistry 130B
A glimpse of a day in the classroom through the eyes of a student
By Carly June Haase a senior majoring in history and medieval and early modern studies
It's a beautiful Wednesday evening during spring quarter. For the most part, the hallways of the Chemistry Building are fairly empty. One exception lies in room 179. The “classroom” for tonight transcends the boundaries of the chemistry building and that of a “traditional” classroom.
Tonight, Chemistry 130B (Pharmaceutical Chemistry 2) is hosting an international event with guest lecturer and UC Davis alumnus Dr. Sundeep Dugar (Ph.D., Chemistry, ’84). The lecture is held in conjunction with Quarter Abroad students at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica. Dugar is currently the president and CEO of Sphaera Pharma and the co-inventor of the popular anti-cholesterol drugs ZETIA® and VYTORIN® (he worked for Schering-Plough, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Scios, and Johnson and Johnson). He has also played an integral role in the creation and future of the pharmaceutical chemistry major at UC Davis.
Originally the brainchild of Professor of Chemistry Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague, the success of the pharmaceutical chemistry series is a product of the combined efforts of Gervay-Hague as well as chemistry professors Dean Tantillo, Sheila David, Peter Beal and Xi Chen.
The class is structured around guest lecturers in the pharmaceutical and business industries to give students an eye-opening account of how they can use their degrees in the “real world.”
“These lecturers know things that we, as professors, don’t,” says Sheila David, professor of chemistry. “When guest lecturers from the industry come in, they give students a different perspective that isn’t rooted so much in scientific theory. We’re especially lucky to have a lecturer like Dr. Dugar, who gives so much back to the program.”
Inside the classroom, students start trickling in as time gets closer to 6pm. A large white screen hangs at the base of the lecture hall; a technician fiddles with a camera and adjusts the setup for the upcoming conference call. David welcomes Dean Winston Ko and a delegate of chemists from Peking University, China, here to attend a collaboration meeting the next day.
The camera sparks to life and gives viewers a live feed of UC Davis students in Taiwan, along with Dean Tantillo, associate professor of chemistry. All eagerly assembled for Dugar’s lecture. Turning to the delegation of students and scholars, David introduces Dugar and greets the students watching from Taiwan. Dugar smiles as he is introduced, acknowledging the applause only briefly. Eager to move into his purpose for being with the class that evening, he launches into a discussion of the practice of medicinal chemistry.
“Medicinal chemistry involves looking at multiple sets of data to design new molecules for specific targets and create new pharmacological agents designed for these targets and hopefully to treat associated disease(s),” explains Dugar.
Dugar describes the relationship that certain enzymes like kinase have with various disease pathways and how chemists alter the chemical structure of molecules in specific ways to target these enzymes and create new drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. He provides
a description of the process of creating drugs like ZETIA® and VYTORIN®. He emphasizes the innovative capabilities and opportunities available to students hoping to enter the pharmaceutical industry.
“Dugar’s first-hand experience with creating drugs and his considerable exposure to the pharmaceutical industry is invaluable information for our students,” said David in response to Dugar’s lecture. “Whether or not they decide to work in a pharmaceutical company, they’ll need this experience as doctors or pharmacists interacting with pharmaceutical companies or in other pharmaceutical-related jobs engaged in the marketing and selling of drugs.”
“The UC Davis Quarter Abroad program in Taiwan is certainly a special component of our department,” says David. “There are sixteen students that went to Taiwan this quarter. I think it makes the students realize the global endeavors available to them in their major, all while receiving a wonderful experience abroad.”
The sense of community that surrounds both student and staff in the pharmaceutical chemistry major is apparent inside the classroom tonight. Students and faculty in Taiwan and Davis span across a fifteen hour time difference to discuss chemistry, forge relationships and create networks between future and present pharmaceutical chemists.