Discovery of Ivermectin: Preventing Blindness and Heartworm Mark as Favorite (2 Favorites)

LESSON PLAN in History, Pharmaceuticals, Molecular Structure , ACS National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program. Last updated August 26, 2022.


In this lesson, students will learn about the drug ivermectin by reading about the chemistry behind its discovery and applications. There are a series of activities to help promote literacy in the science classroom related to the reading. This lesson could be easily used as plans for a substitute teacher since most of the activities are self-guided.

Grade Level

High School

NGSS Alignment

This lesson will help prepare your students to meet the performance expectations in the following standards:

  • HS-PS2-6:  Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
  • Scientific and Engineering Practices:
    • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
    • Engaging in Argument from Evidence
    • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information


By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Recognize chemistry is important for drug development.
  • Understand that scientific discovery is not an independent endeavor.

Chemistry Topics

This lesson supports students’ understanding of:

  • Chemical structures
  • Organic chemistry
  • Real-life applications of chemistry


Teacher Preparation: 10 minutes
Lesson: Approximate times for students to complete each activity in the lesson:

  • Reading: 20 minutes
  • History Exercise: 15–20 minutes
  • People and Places: 15–20 minutes
  • Chemical Structures: 10–15 minutes
  • Ivermectin Impacts: 10–15 minutes


  • Reading document and desired handouts to accompany the reading.


  • No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.

Teacher Notes


Lesson Overview:

The lesson includes multiple components as outlined individually below. The Reading is essential for all of the activities. Teachers can choose to do one or all of the included activities. Student handouts and corresponding answer keys are provided for each item described below:

  • Reading: Discovery of Ivermectin: Preventing Blindness and Heartworm
  • Activity: History Exercise
    • Students use this activity to help describe major events they learn from the reading before and after the discovery of ivermectin, including plans for the future.
  • Activity: People and Places
    • Ivermectin’s history extends across the globe and involves a combination of individual researchers, companies and organizations, and the people receiving it as a treatment. In this activity, students take stock of all the collaboration via a graphic organizer and some reading comprehension questions.
  • Activity: Chemical Structures
    • Using the structure of ivermectin, students practice bond line notation and organic structures. They look for the small changes to a molecule that resulted in a successful drug and answer some analysis questions about the structure of ivermectin.
  • Activity: Ivermectin Impacts
    • This activity asks students open-ended questions to help them describe the wide-ranging health benefits of ivermectin, along with its economic impacts. They also imagine the effect on their own activities and mental health if they were affected by river blindness.