Careers in STEM
Pharmacologists understand how medicines and other drugs work and how they're processed by the body so they can be used effectively and safely.
Currently a significant part of pharmaceutical research involves the use of animals, although this doesn't have to be part of your work – you can choose whether you want to be involved in this. Improved use of in silico (computer modelling) and in vitro techniques (in a test tube, culture dish, or elsewhere outside a living organism) are alternatives to in vivo (tests using whole, living organisms or cells, usually animals, including humans, and plants). You will conduct research to aid drug discovery and development and the work is used to:
- discover new and better medicines
- improve the effectiveness and safety of current medicines
- understand how and why people react differently to different drugs
- find out why some drugs cause addiction or unwanted side-effects.
Specialist areas include:
- cardiovascular pharmacology
- veterinary pharmacology
- clinical pharmacology.
Other pharmacological specialties are often grouped according to body systems, but can also be subdivided based on other aspects of health and disease.
Clinical pharmacologists work on the development and delivery of medicines to patients. This can either be as a clinical pharmacology scientist developing a medicine through clinical trials or as a medical doctor who will prescribe medicines directly to the patient. Clinical pharmacologists can work in academia, the NHS or for drug discovery companies.