The Radiopharmaceutics & PET Radiochemistry course will equip you with the skills to work as a radiopharmaceutical scientist in a PET radiochemistry centre (cyclotron unit) or in the field of conventional radiopharmacy, providing diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals to nuclear medicine centres and specialised commercial centres.
The Radiopharmaceutics & PET Radiochemistry course will provide you with opportunities to develop your knowledge, understanding and skills in the principles and practice of radiopharmaceutical science.
The course is made up of optional and required modules. The MSc pathway requires modules totalling 180 credits to complete the programme, 60 of which will come from a research project. You will complete the course in one year, from September to September.
We use lectures, tutorials and laboratory practicals to deliver most of the modules on the programme. You will also be expected to undertake a significant amount of independent study.
Each 30-credit module typically requires attendance at lectures/tutorials (80%) and labs (20%) for 24 full days. Each of these full days’ will include at least six hours of contact time.
Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work.
The course is assessed by a variety of mechanisms including:
The study time and assessment methods detailed above are typical and give you a good indication of what to expect. However, they may change if the course modules change.
This course is accredited by the European Association of Nuclear Medicine – EANM (Radiopharmacy Education Board) and the Royal Society of Chemistry – RSC.
Expected destinations are the NHS and commercial nuclear medicine services, the pharmaceutical industry or PhD research.
The programme provides you with strong knowledge on one or more of the following topics: design and synthesis of new drugs, radiolabelling and enhanced targeting of drugs, or screening, isolation and modification of new drug candidates from bioactive plants. In addition, you will learn to master the state-of-the-art methods needed for the full identification of drug molecules and for their quantitation from different types of tissues and metabolite mixtures.
Our programme offers you three options, all covering the chemistry of drug development from slightly different perspectives: bio-organic chemistry, radiopharmaceutical chemistry and natural compound chemistry. You can either choose to learn to synthesize drugs and drug components yourself, or let them be produced by plants first and then learn how to isolate and perhaps modify the plant-derived compounds to enhance their activity. Radiochemistry is then needed to developed techniques for labelling of drug candidates so that their distribution can be first monitored in vivo by positron emission tomography (PET) techniques and then the targeting optimized by further modifications. Our approach gives you strong hands-on knowledge on medicinal chemistry, since practical laboratory work forms the soul of our programme.
Our approach on medicinal and radiopharmaceutical chemistry is a unique combination of research areas that are closely related, but that require different type of expertise, if you really want to master one of the areas. All of the three options we offer you are represented by well-established, top of the line research groups: Bioorganic Group, Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry Group, and Natural Chemistry Research Group. You need to choose your orientation between these groups, but you may take courses from all of them. This way you are able to specialize, but at the same time acquire wide enough knowledge on the relevant topics related to the chemistry of drug development.
The main target in studies of Bio-organic Chemistry is to master the key concepts of organic reactions, stereochemistry and physical organic chemistry. This way the student can design and execute organic syntheses and understand chemical biology. The Bioorganic Group is specialized into the synthesis of biopolymers (oligonucleotides, oligosaccharides and peptides), their interaction mechanisms at the molecular level and to the application of this knowledge into solving medicinal problems.
Students of Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry can specialize into radiochemistry, i.e. the synthesis and use of short-lived, isotopically labelled positron emitting organic tracers. These tracers are used in positron emission tomography (PET) that enables imaging of biochemical processes in vivo in both health and disease. The synthesis of radiotracers involves both low molecular weight small molecules as well as macromolecules, typically peptides, proteins and their fragments. Teaching of radiopharmaceutical chemistry takes place in close collaboration with the Turku PET Centre, a National Institute jointly owned by the University of Turku, the Åbo Akademi University and the Hospital District of Southwestern Finland.
With Natural Compound Chemistry you learn to master numerous chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques together with other methods used for characterization and activity measurement of plant-derived biomolecules. The Natural Chemistry Research Group is specialized into the screening of the plant kingdom for bioactive molecules, especially large polyphenols such as ellagitannins. The screening phase can be accompanied by purification of active substances and measuring their structure/activity relationships, or developing new activity methods.
The facilities of Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry are state-of-the-art. We have direct access to the Turku PET Centre preclinical and clinical groups. The PET Centre has four cyclotrons for radionuclide production and 25 hot cells for radiotracer synthesis. At the Department of Chemistry we have recently updated NMR facilities with modern 500 and 600 MHz magnets with cryo-probes that facilitate operation at low drug concentrations. We have direct access to UPLC-MS/MS instruments with both triple quadrupole and high-resolution mass spectrometry detectors. An efficient ECD spectrometer complements the equipment needed for the accurate identification of the produced and purified drug candidates. To know how to master these equipment and techniques is a true advantage to the chemist who graduates from our programme.
Studies in Medicinal and Radiopharmaceutical Chemistry combine theory and practise in an optimal manner so that you have ample chances of gaining hands-on knowledge on different aspects of chemistry of drug development. This is obtained by many courses having lab practicals and by the Oriented Laboratory Project that is a five-week period of laboratory work on some specific challenge related to one of the three thematic research areas.
After the Oriented Laboratory Project you have an excellent chance to use your gained knowledge and expertise in the Master’s Laboratory Project that will form the basis for your Master’s Thesis as well. This five months lasting laboratory project is a crucial and customized part of a true research project taking place in one of the thematic research groups. Alternatively, you have a chance to do the Master’s Laboratory Project in some other Finnish University or abroad, depending on the project details and collaborators available for the project.
After the Master’s Laboratory Project is finalized, you will prepare the Master’s Thesis on the very same or similar topic as the lab project. All this is naturally done under the guidance of a supervisor. Your thesis writing process will benefit from the simultaneous Thesis Seminars, where students discuss of challenges related to their projects, and will present their results both orally and via poster presentations.
Examples of thesis topics: