Freshman seminar captures the hard work, tough calls of drug development

Freshman seminar students at the home of Paul Reider. Photo courtesy of Denise Applewhite, Princeton University Office of Communications.

Paul Reider spent many years developing drugs for the pharmaceutical industry, working with top chemists to combat some of humanity's worst diseases, such as HIV. Nonetheless, the optimism and open-mindedness he sees the Princeton University freshmen he teaches bring to health care issues consistently impresses him.

"It's what they don't know that makes them wonderful," said Reider, a lecturer with the rank of professor in the Department of Chemistry. "They are the most uninhibited and outspoken students I deal with. They're so much smarter than I am and completely uninhibited with their questions. And they're the right questions."

For three years, Reider has taught the freshman seminar "Drug Discovery: From Snake Venoms to Medicines," which is formally designated the Shelly and Michael Kassen '76 Freshman Seminar in the Life Sciences. Students learn about and discuss the technical and regulatory processes — and ethical issues — behind disease treatment and drug development.

As a semester-long project, the students form teams that work toward a real solution to a problem associated with an ailment. This year, the students formed four groups that are addressing Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autism and chikungunya, a mosquito-borne viral infection that causes severe fever and pain.

Read the full story on News at Princeton.

The Program of Freshman Seminars in the Residential Colleges is housed within the Office of the Dean of the College.