Career In Molecular Modeling & Drug Designing – Eligibility & Salary
The average price of developing new drug molecules and therefore the time that is taken to publicize them is quite high. The time factor to some extent is being reduced by utilizing modern techniques but the price issue remains a matter of concern.
However, the number of new drugs coming to market has shown only a marginal increase, with respect to the prices. One of the explanations for this trend may be the lack of structural data of the target molecules. Enzymes are the frequent targets of choice because of their involvement in various biochemical pathways in human physiology. Even with enzymes, there can be problems in getting their structural information. Sometimes it is also troublesome to isolate or produce sufficient quantities of the target enzyme to analyze it directly. These obstacles hinder the successful entry of drug candidates into the market. Therefore, there’s an indispensable demand for efficient strategies that could enhance the drug discovery process.
Computational strategies or molecular modeling methods can be utilized to accelerate the drug discovery process for getting new drug molecules. Nowadays there is a trend that multinational pharmaceutical companies and Research Organizations involved in drug discovery have adopted computational methodology at several stages of the design process. Several computational methods complement each other and may be merged to assist rationalize the drug discovery method. The ultimate challenge in drug styling is to predict and explain the activities of new drug molecules.
Modern drug discovery is a multidisciplinary project, where the role of various computational processes is to utilize experimentally and foretold information in designing new active compounds thereby facilitating and enhancing the speed of discovery of acceptable chemical entities for lead improvement. As far as success stories of drug molecules generated through molecular modeling are concerned, it has been claimed that structure-based drug design strategies have already contributed to the introduction of some drug compounds into clinical trials and for drug approval.
For ligand-based drug design, we have software like quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR), Comparative molecular field analysis (CoMFA), Grid independent (GRIND), comparative molecular similarity indices analysis (CoMSIA). For drug discovery, there are methods like Pharmacophore modeling. Similarly, a variety of drug docking programs like AUTODOCK, CDOCKER, DOCK, FlexX, GOLD, GLIDE are available.
No wonder, there is a vast array of jobs in this sector of Molecular Modeling & Drug Designing, owing to its rapid development rate.
Let us have a quick look at the readily available Career options available in Molecular Modeling & Drug Designing field along with eligibility & Salary Details required for each position.
This is the dream of every Ph. D. scholar that after successful completion of his degree he/she can get involved in research activities as a Scientist. Well established companies like Syngene International Limited, Quantumzyme offer this unique opportunity. Basic requirements include having an experience of 0-8 years, after completing Ph. D. degree. Other than that the employee should understand the process of pharmaceutical discovery and the data and technologies associated. He is also sometimes required to have previous experience in applying molecular modeling methods to structure, ligand and fragment-based drug discovery projects, ADME modeling and drug ADME profile optimization, a certain degree of proficiency in programming/scripting, working knowledge of databases, etc. All of this can be easily achieved if someone is putting all his efforts in the field of research consistently.
Another ambition of most of Ph. D. students is to get a Professor title. Numerous universities and institutes which are conducting research in the field of drug designing offer this platform as well. E.g. Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, IIT Delhi, RGIPT, offers these positions as Assistant Professors, Professors or Associate Professors. Along with a Ph. D. degree, requisite experience, is required which fetches them a good amount of income to sustain their living (as per 7th Pay Commission). This is not only a noble profession but also it gives recognition to the Professors and nurtures their hunger to be active research participants. They also get benefits like HRA, TA, etc. Not only this, but professors are also liable to represent their institute at international levels via conferences, symposia, where not only they are honored, they also receive travel grants for pursuing the same.
All those, who are still at the verge of M.Sc. and Ph.D. have another chance to update their resume by adding to their publication record. Regular Project Assistant vacancies are displayed on the university or institutes websites like that of Central Drug Research Institute. These not only fetch them with requisite experience before beginning their Ph.D. journey but also help them financially. Usual pay Scale for a Project Assistant is INR 16000+ HRA p.m. However, not everyone is eligible to be a PA. There is an age limit of 28 yrs to this. Also, their qualifications should be in the Bioinfo and Life science fields with a minimum of 55% marks. Also, depending on the project they may be required to have an experience in Computer Assisted scientific research in Drug Design (CADD) including Bio-molecular modeling, Machine Learning techniques, etc. Familiarity with LINUX based Computer systems also proves to be an advantage.
Being a Research Associate in the field of drug discovery in a top company like Glenmark life Sciences Ltd requires you to have an experience of 1 – 4 yrs. The candidate is expected to handle targets like the synthesis of APIs following product patent or non-infringing route, literature search for finding suitable reagents and methods for experimentation, other than performing experiments, purification and concluding the experiments based on analytical results. He is also required to work towards identification, synthesis, and characterization of impurities/related substances, performing polymorph screening experiments to invent novel solid forms (polymorphs, pseudo-polymorphs, co-crystals, etc). The RA is expected to have good knowledge in data interpretation of NMR, Mass, HPLC, and GC. Preferably data interpretation of PXRD, DSC, TGA, and KF. He is also responsible for documentation of experiments in Lab Note Book (LNB), preparation of reports and following Good Laboratory Practices (GLP).
5. Bioinformaticist in the health sector:
Certain hospitals like The Institute for Trauma Recovery at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, look for Bioinformaticists who are comfortable working with genetic, RNA sequencing, and epigenetic data derived from large human cohort studies. Candidates ought to have expertise in advanced bioinformatics and statistical modeling, artificial intelligence, multilevel modeling, power /factor analyses, and classification analyses targeted around biomarker discovery. Knowledge of SAS, SPSS, R, and/or Python is desired, in conjugation with the flexibility to develop scripts/code as necessary to streamline/optimize analyses. Primary duties of the candidate embody developing analysis plans unitedly with members of the research team, conducting analyses in a timely fashion, deciphering results for the team, and writing analytical strategies for peer-reviewed publications. Candidates are required to have a minimum of a Master’s degree or ideally a Ph.D. degree in Bioinformatics. Qualifications needed for this position include intensive knowledge of applied statistical and computational methods. These jobs facilitate earning approximately 50,000 to 1,00,000 USD per year.
6. Postdoctoral positions
Post Doc Positions are also available throughout the globe, which usually has 2 years duration. However, these are full-time jobs with designated working hours per week. The basic requirements include Ph. D. in structural bioinformatics/ chemoinformatics/ biophysics or a related field with a strong interest in intermolecular interactions alongside a good hold over English. Other specific requirements may include an ability to conduct independent research, 0-5 years experience in molecular modeling and chemoinformatics, experience in at least two topics of: structure-based and ligand-based drug design; machine learning methods; MD simulations / enhanced sampling methods, knowledge of programming languages e.g. Python, Perl, Java, SQL, etc. These positions, on one hand, give a lot of exposure and on the other hand, also provide a handsome salary of around 50,000 USD per annum.
7. Research Technician
This is another infamous job profile in the USA, which pays $17 – $25 on an hourly basis. Essential qualifications include a Bachelor’s Degree, MS in biology, or a related field, at least 1-2 years of professional laboratory experience, previous technical experience with basic cellular and molecular biology research techniques and bioinformatics, alongside some basic knowledge of computers. The technician is expected to handle standardized molecular biological, microbiological or biochemical tests and laboratory analyses, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing experiments, flow cytometry, and cell sorting. He is also responsible for designing and executing advanced experiments and setting strategy. The candidate is also expected to develop, modify and improve standard operating procedures.
8. Computational Biophysicists:
Certain companies in the USA, as well as India, have other job profiles which need similar skills. Computational biophysicists are one of those. These companies are seeking exceptional computational chemists and biologists, with a track record of extraordinary achievement. Relevant areas of experience might include structural modeling of protein-protein complexes involved in signal transduction or other cellular processes, investigation of conformational changes relevant to the function of protein kinases, direct application of molecular dynamics or other computational methods to drug discovery, ion channels, or other biomolecules, or study of fundamental biophysical problems, such as protein and RNA folding.
9. Teaching in colleges
One can also take up teaching jobs in public institutions if you have a taste in teaching, but before that, you need to be well versed with the techniques and up to date with the latest technologies being used in this field. Also, standard hands-on experience related to molecular modeling and drug designing technique is also desirable.
Business Development Executive
It is not so, that drug discovery will lead you to orthodox jobs only. One also gets a chance to handle businesses. Most of the Pharma giants are actively looking for candidates with 2 – 6 yrs experience, who can identify business opportunities from the local and domestic market to expand their pipeline. He should also have marketing skills so as to pursue annual sales in order to achieve quarterly and annual targets/budgeted revenues. These kinds of jobs easily fetch you a handsome salary between INR 3,00,000 – 6,00,000 P.A.
Courses / Workshops & Training available in the Field of Molecular Modeling & Drug Designing
Now, let us find out how one can build a successful career in these two fields. Of course, you need to have conceptual clarity and basic knowledge. Some students get limited knowledge while they are enrolled for Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Courses in institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University or Birla Institute of Technology and Science. Others who have not studied these at all, also need not worry. Let us have a quick look at the readily available option.
First of all, institutes like Amity University and Nirma University offer courses in Molecular Modelling and Drug Designing. These are usually 1-year courses with approx. 6 lectures per week (theory + practical). The syllabus includes details of molecular geometry, molecular dynamics, pharmacophores, molecular docking, libraries and databases, and software resources.
Not necessarily the courses, one can always join workshops that suits one’s schedule. DBT in association with many institutes & universities conducts offline workshops. Short- term Diploma and certificate courses in Bioinformatics (with Molecular Modelling and Computer-Aided Drug Design Courses as a part) are also available in some institutes.
If you have a shortage of time and cant travel to places to attend these workshops, no need to worry. Biotecnika conducts online workshops related to Molecular Modelling, Drug designing & molecular docking which you can attend at the comfort of your home and if you miss out on any session you can watch the recorded sessions later. One can get certificates related to these courses as well which can be an add-on for your resume. Know More details here.
Foreign universities like the University of Southampton, University of Roehampton, Queen Mary University of London, Kingston University, are regularly hunting for suitable candidates who can join them as Ph. D. scholars in the domain of Computational Biophysics and Bioinformatics. While some of these may be self-funded, others are supported. Here, one gets chances for hands-on training in a wide range of computational methods including bioinformatics and biomolecular simulations. As an international student, one is required to have equivalent degrees in biochemistry, chemistry, physics or a similar discipline and familiarity with molecular modeling and computer programming ability.
As we have already checked, salaries in this field range from Rs. 3 lakh/ year for Research Associate to Rs. 10 lakhs for a managerial post. With experience and increasing responsibility, compensation also grows significantly. They also can receive bonuses throughout the development of a new drug.
The opportunities are abundant. The success rate also depends on several other factors like analytical thinking, desire to learn new methods, leadership, quality management, problem-solving, strong interpersonal skills, strong verbal and written communication, task delegation, sound judgment, and planning and organization skills. What matters most is the capability of the individual to implement the knowledge acquired in a range of fields, his efficiency, and clean hands.
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