Drugs play a key role in the treatment of most human diseases. Increasingly, doctors rely on drugs not only to cure disease, for example antibiotics to treat infections, but also in the prevention of diseases, such as lipid lowering drugs for heart disease. A thorough knowledge of pharmacology is important to the future of medical research and practice.
Department of Pharmacology website
What do pharmacologists do?
Pharmacologists discover, design and test drugs. Some pharmacologists extract new drugs from plants and other living sources, some design and synthesise new chemicals for use as drugs. Other pharmacologists test new agents for treating disease and play an important role in ensuring that these new agents are not made available for use until their safety is established.
Pharmacologists play these roles in many different organisations: basic pharmacology research occurs in both universities and in pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacologists play key roles in both the conduct and analysis of these trials and in reviewing them for government before a drug is allowed on to the market. A special group of pharmacologists - toxicologists - play a particularly important role in the evaluation of the safety of drugs and other chemicals which may affect humans.
How do you study pharmacology?
You can major in pharmacology in the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science (Advanced) or in the Bachelor of Medical Science course. Pharmacology is a substantial component of the medicinal chemistry major.
What will you study in pharmacology?
You will learn about:
- sites and mechanisms of drug action
- drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination
- relationships between drug activity and chemical structure
- drug action on the body systems
- use of drugs in treating infection and cancer
- social use of drugs
- drug design and development
- toxic effects of drugs
At Sydney, there are strong pharmacology research groups in the areas of neuropharmacology, medicinal chemistry, asthma, cancer and pharmacogenomics.
Science students who undertake the fourth year honours course carry out a research project under supervision.
Assessment of their work is by thesis and seminar presentations. Graduate courses offered include the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy.