Pharmacy Career...

Pharmacology: Training and Career Information for Students


Pharmacology is the study of drug actions on biological systems.  It includes the discovery, development, and actions of drugs, and investigation of the underlying processes which affect drugs and their actions.  Pharmacy is a separate discipline and deals with the preparation, dispensing, and appropriate use of medication.

Pharmacists also provide  services to achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes.  The resources at the end of this article will point the student or professional to appropriate web sites from which to learn about pharmacology.   The profession and study of pharmacy will be addressed in more detail in another article.

Pharmacology is most commonly taught in medical schools and graduate schools, but some undergraduate courses are available. 

There are many post-graduate employment opportunities, including careers in academics, teaching, research, drug companies, and regulatory agencies.

The academic paths vary, but generally include a strong grounding in biological and chemical sciences, as well as in mathematics.

Christine K. Carrico, Ph.D., the Executive Officer of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, states the following about research in pharmacology:

“This is a particularly exciting time in pharmacology....  The gap between simple observations of drug actions and applications of therapies targeted to fight disease at the molecular level is narrowing, and we find ourselves on the threshold of a new era in medicine.”

A career in pharmacology might be for you if you feel enthusiastic about how drugs act in the body, and how better ones might be developed.

The resources below can be used to explore what pharmacology is all about, as well as to investigate specific requirements for the academic study of pharmacology.

What Is Pharmacology

From the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).  Designed to provide students with an overview of the fundamentals and applications of pharmacology

Medicines By Design: The Biological Revolution in Pharmacology

From the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Describes the history of pharmacology as well as some of the latest research developments in the field.  Includes drug design to treat disorders more effectively with fewer side effects.  Covers use of genetic engineering, structural biology, biochemistry,  and natural product chemistry.

Why Do Basic Research

From the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.  Basic research is one of the pharmacologist's domains.  This document describes the goals, nature, and some of the advances made possible by basic biomedical research.

American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)

The premier member organization for pharmacologists in the United States.  The site includes much useful information for both students and professionals interested in pharmacology.

Peterson's Guide to Graduate Study

A listing of and details for many pharmacology degree programs in the United States.  Not all are listed, since listing in Peterson's is a paid service, but this is a good starting point to learn about requirements and opportunities.

Academic Pharmacology Departments: United States

  • Pharmacology Departments: Pre- And Postdoctoral Training Programs 
    Most include overviews of ongoing pharmacology research by departmental faculty, and many also include specific requirements for admission to their pharmacology degree programs.
  • Institutes: Pre- And Postdoctoral Training Programs
  • Pharmacology Departments: Undergraduate Degree Programs in Pharmacology or Pharmacological Sciences

Academic Pharmacology Departments: World Wide

Pharmacology and Closely-Related Organizations

  • American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)
  • American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP)
  • American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT)
  • Association for Medical School Pharmacology (AMSP)
  • American Academy of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  • British Pharmacological Society
  • Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
  • Society for Neuroscience (SFN)
  • Society of Toxicology (SOT)
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • More Pharmacology Organizations: World Wide