Pharmacologists are at the centre of efforts to develop new drugs, and thus are essential to the advancement of health in the world. Within pharmacology there are a number of recognised sub-disciplines.  Important among these are the following:

  • Target discovery and validation (studies that try to discover new molecules that could be drug targets).
  • Toxicology (the study of the harmful effects of drugs, the mechanism of toxic action, and approaches at reducing such effects).
  • Pharmacodynamics (the study of how drugs interact with their targets to produce beneficial effects).
  • Preclinical Drug Development (evaluating drug effects in the test tube and in laboratory animals).
  • Pharmacokinetics (the study of how the human body handles and eliminates drugs).
  • Clinical Drug Development (a discipline that tests how well new drugs work in human beings with disease).
  • Pharmacogenomics (the study of how an individuals genetic makeup affects their responses to drugs).
  • Pharmacoepidemiology (the study of how drugs are used within populations of patients).
  • Pharmacoecomics (the study of how the cost of drugs influence their use with populations).
  • Thus, it is clear that pharmacology offers a wide variety of potential careers!

Pharmacology is not the same as pharmacy - a pharmacist is someone qualified to prepare and dispense drugs. Drug hunting in the pharmaceutical industry involves research at the cutting edge of many aspects of biology using the most modern techniques and facilities. In the research setting, pharmacologists work as part of an inter-disciplinary team engaged in discovering and developing new drugs in the following areas.

  • Basic or applied biology research in Universities and the pharmaceutical industry covering areas as diverse as AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer's dementia.
  • Clinical research takes drugs from the laboratory into the clinic and establishes the effectiveness of medicines in patients.

Product registration, pharmaceutical sales and information science also provide fascinating career options for pharmacologists. Pharmacology provides a broad training and pharmacologists also work in a legal environment, the financial sector, general management and general science as well as taking further qualifications in the fields of Science, Pharmacy, Medicine or Teaching. Thus, a background in Pharmacology provides an excellent launching pad for future career development in any of a number of different fields.