Research Partners and Opportunities

Campus facilities and industry partners offer opportunities to complete capstone research or prepare for new experiences and careers. Students may be paired with a Penn laboratory on campus or with an off-campus location that offers a research project that matches the student’s academic and professional goals. With approval from the Program Director and off-campus project supervisor, the student may meet the capstone requirement by preparing a scientific report based on their research project.

The MCS program collaborates with off-campus organizations and companies to arrange student research opportunities in areas such as pharmaceuticals, industrial coatings, food chemistry, and more. Off-campus locations include Axalta Coating Systems, the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, GlaxoSmithKline, the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Axalta Coating Systems is a leading global coatings company dedicated solely to the development, manufacture and sale of liquid and powder coatings. Axalta products increase durability, enhance productivity and add beauty. Students can get exposed to materials and coating research.

The Baruch S. Blumberg Institute is an independent nonprofit research institute that was established in 2003 by the Hepatitis B Foundation to advance its research mission. The Blumberg Institute supports programs dedicated to drug discovery, biomarker discovery and translational biotechnology around common research themes such as chronic hepatitis, liver disease and liver cancer in an environment conducive to interaction, collaboration and focus. Students selected to work at the Blumberg Institute may have the opportunity to complete research in medicinal chemistry, computer-aided molecular design, computational chemistry, bioinformatics and natural products chemistry related to pharmaceuticals, drug discovery and biotechnology.

The Blumberg Institute operates within, and manages, the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center. The Biotech Center is an incubator for academic entrepreneurs, offering state of the art laboratory and office space for scientists who come to the Center to spin new ideas into startup companies. The environment is an exciting knowledge culture of discovery, mixed with entrepreneurship. Regular scientific seminars, special programs and services for entrepreneurs and graduate programs are all available at the Center. Students are encouraged to attend the seminars and special events each week to make the most of their time at the Center.

Masters-level students typically spend 10 months completing their research at Blumberg Institute. Specific project assignments are based on student interest and organizational needs, and may include: antiviral medicinal chemistry focused on hepatitis B (Department of Medicinal Chemistry), natural products discovery (Department of Natural Products Discovery), company creation based on new therapies (Department of Translational Research and Experimental Therapeutics), regulated cell death (Department of Molecular Pathogenesis) or discovery of biomarkers to track disease progression (Department of Early Detection).

The Chemical and Nanoparticle Synthesis Core (CNSC) is a nonprofit organization that is jointly supported by the Perelman School of Medicine, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. The core is designed to carry out interdisciplinary research and support Penn investigators by providing in-house expertise in medicinal chemistry, metal chelate chemistry, polymer and dendrimer synthesis, and nanoparticle production and surface functionalization.

In partnership with Penn's Master of Chemical Sciences program, CNSC is determined to provide students with research opportunities that will satisfy all capstone project requirements. In addition, students will be exposed to all core research activities and will have an opportunity to gain experience in areas such as:

  • Nanoparticle design and synthesis
  • Polymer and dendrimer Synthesis
  • Building the chemical library based on samples from the Department of Chemistry
  • The synthesis of chemical/medicinal compounds
  • Nanoparticle surface functionalization (-COOH, -NH2, PEG, -N3, Alkyne, etc.)

Penn's Masters of Chemical Sciences program is partnered with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to provide students with an exclusive opportunity to conduct research for their capstone projects. GSK is one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. Through our formal agreement, students are exposed to all stages of the pharmaceutical R&D process from early discovery to clinical manufacturing at two research sites in the Philadelphia region.

The Monell Chemical Senses Center is a nonprofit research institute that focuses on taste and smell. Projects are funded both through governmental agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and by corporate sponsors in the food and flavor domain. Current projects include:

  • Nutrient sensing mechanisms in the taste buds and gut
  • Genetics of human smell and taste
  • Effects of smell on mood and health
  • Volatile molecules as chemical signals of health and disease 
  • Sugar reduction strategies to improve well-being 

Wistar is a world leader in early stage discovery science in the areas of cancer, immunology, and infectious disease. The Institute is committed to accelerating research advances from bench to bedside through brilliant science and distinctive approaches to collaboration among scientific investigators and academic and industry partners. Wistar’s single-minded focus is on making discoveries that will change the future of human health. Our scientists strive to gain critical knowledge about disease mechanisms, with the goal of finding new ways to diagnose and treat illness.

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Student and alumni stories

“The program opened me up to different careers in chemistry and connections with companies who came to talk with our class.”
- Brian Roberts, MCS ’19

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