Undergraduate courses and descriptions

Minor in Science and Management of Biomedical Therapeutics

Courses for Undergraduate Minor:
(click on the course title to view the description)

Courses offered in Fall:

Courses offered in Spring:

Courses to be added in year 2:

Click here to visit the USC Schedule of Classes page

Course descriptions:


RXRS 209: Mysterious Deaths: History of Poisons in Literature (2 Units; Spring)
This course introduces you to the poisons that shaped, modified or changed the course of history. Through interesting case studies, the way that the poison was used in a historical context will be examined. Underlying concepts in drug toxicology will be illustrated with each poison. Principles underlying the discovery and use of the various poisons will be described and related to modern day drug development methods. This course brings history and science together at a level appropriate for non-science majors. It will have broad appeal to many USC science and non-science undergraduates.

RXRS 402: Human Pharmacology: Challenge of Therapeutics in Society (4 units; Fall).
Pharmacology combines pharmacy (the science of drug preparation) and therapeutics (the treatment of disease with drugs and other means).  This course is designed for upper-level undergraduate students from science majors who want to gain a working knowledge of how drugs are administered, what happens to them once in the body (pharmacokinetics [PK]) how drugs alter disease (pharmacodynamics [PD]); and potentially damage the body (toxicology).  Content also focuses on the use of prescription and over-the counter drugs to prevent and treat diseases (pharmacotherapeutics). The course should give you a basic understanding of many different classes of drugs that are commonly prescribed.  It should be important for undergraduates in Pre Pharmacy, Pre Medicine and other health and life science majors as well as students in biomedical engineering.

RXRS 403: Neuropharmacology in Health and Disease (4 Units; Spring)
Some of the most devastating long term diseases are linked to changes in brain (CNS) signaling and communication.  This course will explore the challenges and opportunities for developing drugs that are intended to correct or stabilize this inappropriate brain function.  The course will educate you about the origin, pathophysiology and treatment of such important neurological disorders as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, psychiatric disorders, traumatic injury, and addiction.  You will critically evaluate how and why certain treatments are used for those diseases for treating brain disorders.  You will also be introduced to new and exciting scientific frontiers in drug discovery and use.  We now know that the brain is a dynamic organ that develops and changes throughout life.  It can be affected permanently by injury, stress and disease as well as by drug abuse and addiction. Case studies will be presented to show how understanding the human brain may result in new opportunities for drug treatments of treat neurological disorders including addiction, degeneration, and cognitive decline. Students will also become familiar with future technologies including the application of surgical approaches, nanotechnology, lifestyle, and genetic engineering including stem cells that may improve treatments for disease.

RXRS 404: Neuroimmunity in Health and Disease (2 units; Fall)
Neuroimmunology is an evolving field that combines neuroscience, immunology, molecular and cell biology and neuropharmacology to understand how the immune system affects the human brain.  Immune responses to environmental and genetic challenges can contribute to the development of many CNS diseases and problems. This course will help you to understand how the immune system helps to maintain a healthy brain and how its performance can affect brain health. In addition, material will be presented that discusses the challenges of developing therapeutics to treat neuroimmune disorders.  It should be popular with many groups of undergraduate students in Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-Medicine and other health and life science majors as well as students in biomedical engineering, psychology, law and sociology.

RXRS 405: Pharmacology and Sociology of Drug Abuse (4 units; Fall).
The problems inherent in illicit drug use are well publicized but the relative risks of different types of substance abuse are not. For example, the use and abuse of legal drugs including alcohol and tobacco have caused far more deaths, sickness, violent crimes, economic loss and other social problems compared to the use of all illegal drugs combined.  This course will introduce you to the ways that drugs are perceived and used in today’s society. Using a case study method, you will explore the social, psychological, economic and biological reasons why drug use and abuse occur.  You will learn about current trends that distinguish today’s drug climate, such as the increased use of prescription opioids and the significant increase in accidental opioid overdose.  You will also be introduced to the roles of different health care professionals, members of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry and academic scientists in the prevention and treatment of drug-related addictions and problems.  It is designed for life science majors as well as students in engineering, psychology, social work, business, law, finance and sociology.

RXRS 407: The Discovery, Development and Marketing of Medicines (4 Units; Spring)
This course introduces you to ways in which promising research discoveries move from the laboratory (bench) into clinical practice (bedside) to diagnose and treat patients, a process commonly referred as “Translational Science” or “Translational Medicine.”  It should give you a basic understanding of the principles and concepts underlying drug discovery and development as seen through the eyes of industry.  It will examine the use of different types of pharmaceutical interventions, from patented to generic to over-the counter drugs, dietary supplements and alternative medicines.  You will learn about the challenges of illicit and counterfeit drugs, with a view to their regulatory, ethical and societal challenges.  Selected cases studies will be critically reviewed and emerging “hot” topics discussed.  This course is directed at students interested in drug discovery research, chemistry, biology, pharmacology, biochemistry, toxicology, formulations, pharmaceutical industry, FDA.  It would also be useful for business analysts, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists interested in understanding the pharmaceuticals industry.

RXRS 411: Innovations in Medical Product Development (4 Units; first offering, Fall, 2017)
New technologies are being developed every day. However, before they can be used, they must navigate a maze of political, regulatory and reimbursement issues. You will learn about emerging technologies used in the research, development and manufacturing of new drugs, medical devices, and biologics- topics such as the use of 3D printers to manufacture drugs and prosthetics, the use of light activated nanoparticles to deliver drug payloads directly to the site of tumors, computer modelling and simulations to predict the safety and efficacy of medical products and the use of gas filled microbubbles to transport large molecules across the blood brain barrier to treat neurological disorders. “Hot topics” will be presented such as the role of FDA in regulating the “do it yourself DNA kits” that are being marketed (e.g., 23andME). The course will also explore concerns that the US may not be the best country to introduce these new innovations.  If you are interested in drug discovery research, chemistry, biology, pharmacology, and formulation, or if you are fascinated by the entrepreneurial and business aspects of medical product commercialization, this is the course for you.

RXRS 413: Globalization in the Biomedical Industry (4 units; Spring)
The biomedical industry, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies has been dominated historically by the advanced economies of US, Europe, and Japan. However, seismic shift in the dynamics of global economy has moved revenue growth centers to China, India, and other emerging regions. This has profound implications for research and development (R&D), regulatory, and commercialization strategies that base the industry’s business model.  Lectures will compare the healthcare, business practices, laws, regulations and institutions governing medical products in United States with those of other countries and regions. They will also include cultural issues and harmonization efforts. You will learn about regulations shaping preclinical and clinical trials in other countries through weekly case studies of multinational companies expanding their business globally. These topics should be important for a range of students with Pre Pharmacy, Pre Medicine and other health and life science majors as well as students in biomedical engineering, psychology, business, law, international studies, and sociology.

RXRS 416: Medical Products: From Idea to Market (4 units; Fall)
Biomedical ideas do not turn into products without the intervention of many different types of experts.  Medical devices, drugs and diagnostics are particularly hard to turn into products because they are highly regulated and require disciplined adherence to quality systems.  In this course, we map the progress of products, through the identification of intellectual property, the animal and clinical trials to establish safety and efficacy, the gradual refinement of product composition and quality specifications, to the commercialization of that product. You will see how business principles merge with project management and science in order to make and keep products safe and saleable.   In this course, you will be exposed to many types of activities, some of which may help you to understand whether further study or career development is right for you. This course should have broad appeal to many USC undergraduates including Biomedical Engineering, Pre Pharmacy, Pre Medicine and other health and life science majors as well as students in, psychology, business, law and sociology.

RXRS 417: Food Safety: The Good, The Bad and The Deadly (4 units; Fall)
Public policies and practices continue to intersect with consumer concerns regarding the safety of food ingredients. The future of food and farming are at a critical crossroads of feeding a growing population with diminishing natural resources (e.g., land, water, and energy).  Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), natural, sugar, sodium, fat, food additives, food colors and flavors, processing technologies and organic continue to capture the consumers’ attention.  The concept of functional foods, also known as nutraceuticals, is a food product category not endorsed by the U.S. FDA, yet continues to appeal to consumers.  Social media are contemporary drivers that expand consumer concerns, despite the evidence of safety, environmental compatibility, and health benefits.  Within the United States, the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act continues to be a significant factor in assuring the safety, affordability, accessibility, and nutritional quality of the food supply.  This course will critically examine the quantity and quality of scientific evidence, health potential, policy implications and consumer responses in these and other food ingredients and foods “in the news.” This course should have broad appeal to many USC undergraduates – and will certainly be attractive to individual hoping to pursue a career in any health care related profession, the pharmaceutical Industry or in consumer products and/or consumer protection.

RXRS 490: Directed Research 490X (2-4 units; Fall, Spring, Summer)
Directed Research (490x) is student-proposed, faculty-supervised research that can be used to earn from two to eight units of elective credit. This course gives undergraduate students the opportunity to work in the laboratory of a USC faculty member as a research assistant.  The course can count toward up to 4 units of upper division elective credit in the minor.  Students must conduct research under a professor, and must present their work in the form of a paper, formal publication, or poster presentation. Directed research is usually intended for juniors and seniors who have excelled in the major and have developed a specific research interest.

For more info regarding these courses, please contact Randa Issa:  rissa@usc.edu or 323-442-2018