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Pharmacology

 

Would you like to know more about what it’s like to have a career in pharmacology? Watch this video with researcher Dr Lawrence Moon to discover what it’s like to work in this area.

What is pharmacology?

Pharmacology is the study of the development of drugs for use in healthcare. For example, as a pharmacologist you would test a drug to see whether it was safe and effective in Petri dishes and in animals prior to evaluation in humans, to see whether the drug hits its target in the heart, brain or liver.

Many people confuse pharmacology with pharmacy, which involves the formulation of drugs into pills or liquids to be used by patients. Pharmacology is the step before that, including the initial design and evaluation of those drugs.

Whether working in an academic or industry environment, pharmacologists are involved in developing effective medication for every type of illness and injury, such as stroke in the case of Mr Zemlinksy.

Pharmacology is all about problem solving. You’re always exploring new ideas, and it’s an attempt to address your own curiosity. No two days are ever the same.'

Dr Lawrence Moon, Pharmacologist

Qualifications

After studying science subjects at school, including Biology and Chemistry, you should study an undergraduate degree in Pharmacology or a related area. If you want to become a researcher or university lecturer, you should then go on to studying a master’s degree and PhD in Pharmacology.

To work as a pharmacologist, you need to be very persistent and tenacious. Being a scientist is all about solving problems, so you should be able to persevere and be patient when you don’t get the answers you want or get ambiguous results.

Career opportunities

There are many career opportunities for people studying undergraduate programmes in Pharmacology. Many go on study master’s degrees and PhDs and become academic research scientists. Others go on to develop a variety of careers, including:

  • working in industry for a large biotech company or pharmaceutical company, as part of a team testing candidate therapies for a disease or an injury
  • working in science or medical communication roles, such as in charities or health organisations
  • editing scientific journals.

Top tip

Visit the open day of a university that offers Pharmacology as a subject. This will help you to distinguish Pharmacology from Pharmacy and make the right decision about which of these options would be the best career for you.

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