Cheminformatics and Toxicology Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What are Cheminformatics and Toxicology?

Cheminformatics is the use of information technology to help chemists investigate problems, organize, analyze and understand scientific data in the development of novel compounds, materials, and processes. Computers have become so powerful that anyone interested in researching a wide range of chemistry topics will surely resort to them for analysis, calculations, estimations, and predictions. 

The introduction of new technologies and approaches like machine learning and data science has only deepened this dependence for chemistry researchers and the field of cheminformatics has only grown since it was defined as such back in 1998. Today, tackling any kind of research within the chemistry field without the intervention of computers seems highly unlikely.

Toxicology is a field of science that helps us understand the harmful effects that chemicals can have on people, animals, and the environment.

Toxicologists study the safety and biological effects of drugs, chemicals, agents, and other substances on living organisms. They develop methods to determine harmful effects, the dosages that cause those effects, and safe exposure limits. Toxicologists use their knowledge of science to predict what, and how chemicals may cause harm and then share that information to protect public health.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Cheminformatics and Toxicology courses in the following subject areas:

  • MSc in Applied Toxicology – Gain the knowledge and skills to specialize in toxicology in the pharmaceutical or biomedical industries.
  • MSc in Cheminformatics and Toxicology – The study of computational techniques to solve chemistry, pharmacology, and toxicology.
  • Forensic Science – The study of Forensic Science, crime scene investigation, evidence examination, toxicology, and forensic anthropology.
  • Elements of Forensic Science – Explore how forensic scientists work and how chemistry, DNA, and genetics are used in crime scene investigations.
  • Industrial Microbiology & Biopharmaceuticals – The study of the principles of pharmaceutical microbiology, aseptic processing, and biopharmaceutical production as applied in an industrial context.

Studying Cheminformatics and Toxicology in college

You need a degree to become a toxicologist. While there are very few degrees specifically in toxicology, there is a number that combines toxicology with other subjects such as biochemistry and pharmacology. You will need to make sure that your degree gives you a sound background in chemistry and a good understanding of biological systems.

There are many suitable courses available and they usually take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover all theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification.

You could also consider work experience or volunteering to help in laboratories or research facilities. Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Cheminformatics and Toxicology you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of the different areas of chemistry such as academic/university research, clinical research, forensic science, industrial chemistry, pharmaceutics, or regulatory chemistry.

You’ll typically work as part of a multidisciplinary team, which may include other specialists such as computational toxicologists, genetic toxicologists, and histopathologists.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various research facilities or private companies. The hours are usually full-time, Monday to Friday. You should expect to work some evenings, although weekend or shift work is uncommon. Short-term contracts of six to 12 months with a company are common, meaning you may work more like a contractor than a permanent employee.

You’ll plan and carry out laboratory and field studies to assess the possible risks and harmful effects of substances, taking into account the potential implications of future technology such as genomics, digital tools, in silico/in vitro developments, and the long-term consequences of gene-editing technologies. You will typically work to understand and manage the risks chemicals pose depending on different exposure scenarios as well as helping to avoid injury from chemicals and managing accidental exposure of both humans and the environment.

There isn’t usually much travel involved in this type of role. Depending on the organization, however, you may get the opportunity to travel overseas for collaborative work or scientific conferences.

Related jobs include:

  • Chemistry Teacher
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Geochemist
  • Hazardous Waste Chemist
  • Materials Scientist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Toxicologist
  • Water Chemist

Further study

After completing a course related to Cheminformatics and Toxicology, you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also, be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as pharmacology, medicines safety, biochemistry, computational toxicology, or molecular biology.


What are the responsibilities of a Chemist or Toxicologist?

You will need to have an organized and methodical approach to work, great attention to detail, analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

You should have excellent written and oral communication skills, for presenting data and communicating results to both scientific staff and non-scientists.

You will largely work within a multidisciplinary team so you will need good teamwork skills to work collaboratively but you should also have the ability to work on your own and manage your time effectively.

Why is cheminformatics important?

Cheminformatics play a huge role in chemistry research that is incredibly important for our everyday lives. One of the main applications of cheminformatics is the storing, indexing, and searching of a vast amount of information that is available on molecules and compounds. This is important for research as the increase in information availability makes it easier for researchers to make more informed decisions while working in the lab.

Where can I study Clinical Research?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· Wasp venom contains a chemical that alerts other wasps to join in and sting the victim.

· The Blue-Ringed Octopus is one of the smallest, but deadliest animals and there is no antidote to its venom.

· If poison ivy is burned and the resulting smoke is then inhaled, a rash will appear on the lining of the lungs causing extreme pain and possibly fatal respiratory difficulty.

· The reason you can’t buy cashew nuts in their shell is that they are toxic to the touch, similar to poison ivy

· For the Japanese chefs trying to earn legal permission to serve Pufferfish (whose poison is over 1000 times more toxic than cyanide), one of their tests is to eat Pufferfish they’ve prepared.

Mariza Halliday

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