Pharmacologists study the effects of drugs and chemical compounds on humans and animals. They investigate the safety and effectiveness of drugs, advise on dosage, create tests to establish any side effects, and seek to identify elements which may contribute to the discovery of other new drugs. Working as part of a multidisciplinary team including biochemists, biologists, geneticists, microbiologists, toxicologists, and pharmacists, they may be involved in running clinical trials of new drugs, or work in research and development.
Their duties are likely to include:
Pharmacologists keep abreast of developments in their particular subject area, and write reports and present the findings of their own research to colleagues. Some supervision of support staff and the management and co-ordination of projects may be part of this job.
Pharmacologists normally work 37.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Occasionally experiments or clinical trials may involve working longer hours. Academics in universities and researchers in industry regularly work extra hours.
Protective clothing is worn to prevent contamination and to avoid contact with hazardous substances. Fieldwork may involve travel and periods away from home and attendance at scientific meetings and conferences.
To be a pharmacologist, you should:
Pharmacologists are employed by a wide range of organisations in both the public and private sectors. These include the pharmaceutical industry, manufacturers of chemicals, food and drink products, household goods or cosmetics, NHS hospitals, the Public Health Laboratory Service, and government or charity-funded research institutes.
There are opportunities to take on supervisory and managerial responsibilities, and to move into other areas of work such as medical sales and marketing, drug registration, patent work, and information science. A large proportion of pharmacologists work for multinational companies, so there may be opportunities to work abroad. Relocation may be necessary for career progression.
Pharmacology graduates wishing to work in medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine may be able to do so by completing a shortened degree course. Courses usually take four years to complete and are offered at several universities throughout the country. For more information check the BPS website.
If you would like to know anything about Pharmacologist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry