Course Syllabus


Medical Biotechnology and

Drug Development


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Semester & Location:

Spring 2024 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours:

Western Denmark and London

Major Disciplines: Biology, Biomedicine / Biotechnology, Pre-Medicine / Health Science

One year of biology and one year of chemistry at the university level

Faculty Member:

Jeanette Erbo Wern

(current students please use the canvas inbox to contact)

Program contact:

Science and Health Department

Program Director: Susana Dietrich
Time & Place:

Mondays and Thursdays 8:30-9:50 CET, Classroom N7 - B12


Jeanette Erbo Wern.jpg

Jeanette Erbo Wern 
Ph.D. Immunology 2001-2005 (Inst. Of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark). Post doc 2006-2009 (Inst. of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark). M.Sc. 2001 (Inst. Of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark). Senior Scientist 2010-2013 (Immune Targeting Group, Bioneer, Cph, Denmark). Senior Scientist 2013-2016 (Dept. of Infectious Disease Immunology, Statens Serum Institute, Cph, Denmark). With DIS since 2017.


Course Description

The emphasis of the course will be on biomedicine and drug discovery & development, showcased through a focus on the European pharmaceutical and biotech research community.

You will learn about the general principles of drug discovery & development, including safety, toxicology, formulation, and clinical trials. Furthermore, the course will explore the opportunities and challenges biotechnology has for medicine, such as the different new types of biotechnological drugs, gene therapy, specialized medicine, delivery problems, stem cells, etc.

Additionally, and especially through academic visits both in Denmark and in London, you will get a good overview of the different players involved in the drug discovery and development process, including research laboratories, start-up companies, biotech industry and contract research organizations.

The course will incorporate some group work in class and will finish with a group project, with an focus on drug development in Scandinavia which you will write a paper about and present in class. Group work improve the quality of your final result by including the strength of each group member. This is also how work is very likely to be organized in your future professional life. 

Your success in this course is important to me!

 Expected Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Give a basic explanation of biomedical drug discovery and development
  • Review characteristics and principles of  biotechnological tools, methods, and classes of drugs
  • Research biotechnological information and present it in a clear and critical way
  • Participate actively and critically in discussions of biotechnology and different types of drugs in class and with biomedical professionals
  • Assess the challenges that researchers and people working in the biopharmaceutical area are faced with when dealing with drug discovery and development 


Required Readings

  • Pharmaceutical Biotechnology – Fundamentals and Applications edited by Daan J. A. Crommeling, Robert D. Sinclair and Meibohm B. Springer, Fourth Edition, 2013 (hereafter referred to as PB)
  • Drug discovery and development – technology in transition edited by Raymond G. Hill and Humphrey P. Rang. Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2nd edition, 2013 (hereafter referred to as DDD)
  • Drug discovery and development – technology in transition edited by Raymond G. Hill and Duncan B. Richards. Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 3rd edition, 2022 (hereafter referred to as DDD2022)


  • Links to readings on canvas:
  1. Murphy, Kenneth P.: Basic Concepts in Immunology. Janeway's Immunobiology, 9th Edition Garland Science, Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, 2017 ISBN: 9780815345053
  2. Murphy, Kenneth P.: Fighting Infectious Diseases with Vaccination. Janeway's Immunobiology, 9th Edition. Garland Science, Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, 2017 ISBN: 9780815345053
  3. Walsh, Gary: The Drug Development Process. Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. John Wiley & Sons, 2007. ISBN: 9780470012444
  4. Lipp, Ralph; Pungor, Erno: Formulation of Biotech Products.Pharmaceutical Biotechnology: Drug Discovery and Clinical Applications. Wiley-Blackwell, 2004. ISBN: 3527305548
  5. Resnik, David B.: Patents in the Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Industry: Legal 74 and Ethical Issues. Pharmaceutical Biotechnology: Drug Discovery and Clinical Applications. Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. ISBN: 9783527651269
  1. Ellington, Andrew; Keefe, Anthony D.; Pai, Supriya: Aptamers as therapeutics. Natural Reviews Drug Discovery, Vol. 9, 2010. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. ISSN: 14741776
  2. Oh, Bermseok; Hong, Kyung-Won: Overview of personalized medicine in the disease genomic era. BMB Reports, Vol. 43, 2010 Biochemistry and Molecular. ISSN: 19766696
  3. Rao, Mahendra; Condic, Maureen L.: Regulatory Issues for Personalized Pluripotent Cells Stem Cells, Vol. 26, 2008. Stem Cells ISSN: 15494918
  4. Fellmann, Christof; et al.; Gowen, Benjamin G.: Cornerstones of CRISPR-Cas in drug discovery and therapy. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Volume 16, 2017 Macmillan. ISSN: 1474-1776
  • Extra material posted on Canvas 


Evaluation and Grading

Participation 15%
Canvas test 1 20%
Canvas test 2 20%
Drug Development Assignment (DDA) Report 15%
Drug Development Assignment (DDA) Presentation 10%
Study Tour Assignments (STA)   20%





Lectures, class discussions, solution sessions (alone/in groups), case studies, group presentations of case studies, field studies visiting pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and the group project with a presentation.

There is one shorter test early in the semester and a longer tests at the end of the semester. There is no final, but instead, the class wrap up with the Drug Development Assignment. The project is graded as a group effort, while grades for the project presentation are a combination of group and individual performance.


To prepare for each day, you are required to read all assigned material, using the study questions for that day as well as take a survey on Canvas and vote on the study questions that were more challenging. Based on those results, more focus will be given in class to certain areas of study. 

Participation is determined by attendance, tardiness, and engagement in class. You are expected to attend all DIS classes and activities when scheduled, and we will actively monitor attendance. Absences will jeopardize your grade and your standing at DIS. Allowances will be made in cases of illness, but you will need to email your instructor in advance. If you miss multiple classes the Director of Academic Support and the Director of Student Affairs will be notified and they will follow-up with you to make sure that all is well.

Students will also be asked to address some of the study questions in class: this will be a part of the evaluation parameter, “preparation.” Additionally, for those students that did not have a chance to give their input in class, you will have the opportunity to do so on Canvas: a) on the discussion board there will be an open “Continue today’s class discussion/debate”, where students can share thoughts/questions related to the topic discussed in class, b) if relevant, there will also be a specific question/topic related to the day’s class, to which students can address/answer/debate on Canvas. The participation of the students in these debates will be taken into consideration when the student’s participation assessment is made.

The Science & Health department faculty and staff have put many hours into selecting and organizing the readings and material for this course. Please make sure to read all the material assigned; the reading material and the websites have been carefully chosen and are pertinent to your success in Medical Biotechnology and Drug Development. You have an obligation to your fellow classmates and yourself to come prepared to class. 


There are two canvas tests throughout the semester, covering these topics:

  • Test 1: Drug discovery and development
  • Test 2: Test: Peptides and nucleotides as biopharmaceuticals and Immune-defense related biopharmaceuticals

They will be a combination of information recall, concept explanation and synthesis, and problem analysis. The Tests last 50 minutes unless otherwise stated.  You will take both tests in class during class time unless you have accommodations.

 Drug Development Assignment (DDA)

As a group, you will investigate the drug development of a biopharmaceutical company that you visit. Focusing on a current or recent pharmaceutical product, you will explore the science, research, methodology, and challenges of developing the product, culminating in a paper and a presentation. 

Before visiting the company you will learn about and give a presentation on their research and pipeline and what stage of the drug development process they are in. Visiting the company is an opportunity to ask about the challenges and decisions that were made with regards to their candidate drug(s), or the technology or service they can offer. 

After the visit, you will write a report from what you learned and at the end of the semester, you will present the company to the class as if the class were venture capitalists considering to invest in "your" company (role play). Can you convince them to invest in your company?

 Biopharmaceutical Company Visits

  • In assigned groups, you will visit the company who's product you’re researching for the Drug Development Assignment; the exact companies will be announced later.

Core Course Week and Study Tours

Core Course Week (CCW) and study tours are an integral part of the core course as we take the classroom on the road and see how theory presented in the classroom is translated to practice in the field. You will travel with your classmates and DIS faculty/staff on two study tours: a short study tour in Denmark during Core Course Week and a long study tour (LST) to a relevant European destination.

Expectations for study tours:

  • Participate in all activities
  • Engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute to achieving the learning objectives
  • Respect the destination, the speakers, DIS staff, and your fellow classmates
  • Represent yourself, your home university and DIS in a positive light 

Learning objectives:

  • To learn about the newest and most innovative biotechnology-based methods for diagnosis and treatment of disease through academic visits
  • To observe the dynamics of drug discovery and development through visiting biomedicine and biotech research facilities
  • To meet some of the players active in the transfer of technology from university to business and explore their work
  • To explore the differences between Denmark, the US and Portugal within the Biomedicine field
  • To visit cultural landmarks and institutions in the historical cities of Denmark and Europe
  • To develop questions for further learning/research
  • To engage in your personal learning process outside the classroom by actively participating and challenging your current ideas and assumptions.
  • To get to know your fellow students and professor in an educational and social setting outside DIS. 

While on a program study tour DIS will provide hostel/hotel accommodation, transportation to/from the destination(s), approx. 2 meals per day and entrances, guides, and visits relevant to your area of study or the destination. You will receive a more detailed itinerary prior to departure.  

Travel policies

You are required to travel with your group to the destination. If you have to deviate from the group travel plans, you need approval from the program director and the study tours office. 

Study Tour Assignment (STA)

Before your short study tour, you will be organized into teams and with your team, you will construct a fact sheet and small presentation of a academic visit on tour and finish with a more comprehensive final presentation based on what you have learned during both the Core Course Week and the Long Study Tour. Each team will decide on a specific topic on which to focus their final presentation. Topic areas to choose between include:

  1. An in-depth exploration of a biotech research topic encountered on the study tours
  2. Relationship between academia and private enterprise
  3. Collaboration and/or competition – relationships between different players involved in the drug development process
  4. Careers and work-life in biotechnology: niches, educations, and different fields

Please note that the themes above are general and the final topic/research question should be more refined and related to study tour visits.

It is recommended that you research your visits prior to the study tour to raise the quality of your questions and observations at the academic visits. More information will be provided prior to Core Course Week.

DIS Contacts

Susana Dietrich, Program Director,
Science & Health Program Office: Vestergade 7-37

Questions and feedback

If you have questions about the readings, lectures, or assignments, you are always welcome to contact me, preferable on my canvas mail or alternatively by my DIS mail. 


Use of Laptops or Phones in Class

Use of phones in class is not allowed. Laptop use is allowed for group and project work only and when authorized. 

Policy on late papers and/or assignments

Late papers will be accepted, but your grade for the paper will be reduced by half a letter grade for each day that it is late. 

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 

 DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Course Summary:

Date Details Due