Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 3, 853-862 (October 2004) | doi:10.1038/nrd1523

Subject Category: A guide to drug discovery

Article series: A guide to drug discovery

A guide to drug discovery: The role of the medicinal chemist in drug discovery — then and now

Joseph G. Lombardino1 & John A. Lowe, III2  About the authors


The role of the medicinal chemist in drug discovery has undergone major changes in the past 25 years, mainly because of the introduction of technologies such as combinatorial chemistry and structure-based drug design. As medicinal chemists with more than 50 years of combined experience spanning the past four decades, we discuss this changing role using examples from our own and others' experience. This historical perspective could provide insights in to how to improve the current model for drug discovery by helping the medicinal chemist regain the creative role that contributed to past successes.

Author affiliations

  1. 13 Laurel Hill Drive, Niantic, Connecticut 06357, USA.
  2. Pfizer Global Research and Development, Pfizer Inc., MS 8220-4118, Eastern Point Road, Groton, Connecticut 06340, USA.

Correspondence to: Joseph G. Lombardino1 Email:

Correspondence to: John A. Lowe, III2 Email:


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