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If I want to do R&D for pharmaceuticals , am I better off majoring in Chemistry or Chem Engineering

artandcutenessartandcuteness 0 replies1 threads New Member
I want to research and develop drugs for pharmaceutical companies but I'm not sure if that means a chemistry major or chemical engineering one. I also am worried about job placement- I feel like there's a broader range of jobs and you don't have to do phd for chemical engineering, but at the same time it sounds like chemistry would be better. I've already written all my essays around wanting to do Chemical Engineering but I can tweak them. Does anyone have any experience or advice? I think I'd rather do chemistry but I'm scared I'll end up without a job.
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Replies to: If I want to do R&D for pharmaceuticals , am I better off majoring in Chemistry or Chem Engineering

  • geraniolgeraniol 170 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I'm a PhD chemist. If you want to do pharmaceutical research you will need a PhD. Most of pharma hires either synthetic organic chemists or analytical chemists. The two serve very different roles. Increasingly there is demand for chemical biologists since many drugs are made now with fermentation or enzyme catalyzed processes.

    It's the same situation with Chem E. If you want to lead R&D you need a PhD. The Chem Engineers tend to be involved in process/scale up, ie. How to make the drugs in large quantity and in high quality as cheaply and efficiently as possible. If you're interested in healthcare materials and devices (think 3M and Johnson and Johnson products) then chem E is the better route... But again PhD required.

    If you are interested in designing drugs, ie. Coming up with how to treat disease, then chemistry is the way to go. But you will need a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry and further experience like a postdoc in medicinal chemistry or chemical biology/molecular biology to land a good job. That's just where pharma is today. Drugs are increasing large protein-like molecules or uniquely packaged in specific delivery vehicles that you need a really broad and comprehensive training to be a good R&D scientist.
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