Pharmacology combines all aspects of the study of drugs, from their history to their use and their consequences. Pharmacology encompasses galenic pharmacy, the branch that concerns the preparation and administration of medicines; pharmacodynamics, the study of the effects of drugs on living beings; and pharmacokinetics, dedicated to the transformations of the medicine once administered to a living organism, from absorption to excretion.
Pharmacologist job description
The pharmacologist is first and foremost a doctor, a chemist or a biologist specialized in medicine. The pharmacologist conducts experiments and analyses to better understand the effects of pharmaceutical substances and drugs on the human or animal organism. His/her role also consists of improving the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of physiological and psychological diseases.
The pharmacologist conducts basic research in laboratories in hospitals, universities, research institutions, or in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries.
Principal duties of the pharmacologist
- Test the efficiency and safety of a drug
- Run tests to study the carcinogenic, mutagenic (mutation) and teratogenic (deformity) effects of certain drugs and chemical substances
- Establish the standard dosage of a medicine
- Participate in the research of new medicines and new production techniques
- Provide information on drugs
Education to be a pharmacologist
The pharmacologist has initial training in medicine, pharmacy, molecular biology or biochemistry before specializing in pharmacology.
Pharmacologists who have a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree may work as technologists or research associates. With a PhD, he/she can work as an independent researcher for a university or company.
- Knowledge of biochemistry, biology, biostatistics, physiology and pathology
- Skills in mathematics and statistics
- General aptitude in computer science and information technology
- Demonstrated interest in developing new medicines and treatments
- Talent with analysis and data-processing
- Facility with problem-solving
- Creative and innovative mind
By the career’s end, the salary of a pharmacologist can be multiplied by 3 or 4, depending on the diplomas obtained.
The pharmacologist can stay in his own domain and rise through the ranks by becoming supervisor, then director. He/she can also pursue a career in other areas, such as sales, marketing or patents.
Advancement for a pharmacologist working for an international company involves employment and career opportunities abroad. He/she must therefore be prepared to be relocated.