Pharmacology is the study of drugs – how they interact with other molecules in the body and how they affect the body. This field of study can be broken down into two smaller pieces: pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. These are the two main areas of pharmacology dedicated to providing a comprehensive picture of the safety and action of a medication

Pharmacology is a study of how drugs work in the body (sometimes referred to as ‘drug actions’). To understand this we need to consider what a drug is, how it affects our physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing, the type of drug being used, the modes of administration, how the drug is absorbed and the characteristics of the person taking the drug.

As a scientific discipline, pharmacology lies at the heart of biomedical science, linking together chemistry, physiology (the normal function of living organisms) and pathology (the malfunction of living organisms that leads to disease). Pharmacologists work closely with a wide variety of other disciplines that make up modern biomedical science, including neuroscience, molecular and cell biology, immunology and cancer biology, to name just a few.

Pharmacological studies can determine the effects of chemical agents upon subcellular, systemic, physiological or behavioral processes; focus on the treatment and prevention of diseases; or deal with the potential hazards of pesticides and herbicides. Thus, among many other things, pharmacologists are involved in the discovery and development of new drugs, their testing, marketing, surveillance and regulation, and in providing information about drugs.

Pharmacologists therefore make a unique contribution to today’s science and tomorrow’s medicines, in universities, government agencies, the health service, and the pharmaceutical and biosciences industries. Pharmacologists often work in academia, industry or healthcare environments but many pharmacologists go on to have careers outside the lab, in fields such as scientific publishing, teaching, science communication, science policy and regulatory roles in the drug discovery industry.