Pharmacologists seek to understand how chemical substances interact with the body. They work as part of a research team that is responsible for screening compounds, developing drugs and undertaking controlled experiments and clinical trials in laboratories.
Their aim is to gain a better understanding of diseases, develop new drugs to treat them and promote the safe use of existing drugs. Other substances such as poisons and toxins are also studied by pharmacologists to try to understand how those substances can harm the body.
Types of pharmacologist
You can choose to specialize in one area of pharmacology, such as:
- cardiovascular pharmacology;
- in vivo pharmacology;
- veterinary pharmacology.
Employers of pharmacologists
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Other government research organizations
- designing, planning and conducting controlled experiments to improve understanding of a compound’s activity;
- using computers, high technology measuring systems and other sophisticated equipment to collect, analyse and interpret complex data;
- applying and developing the results of research to work through a variety of applications, such as new products, processes, techniques and practices;
- drawing up proposals for future developmental tests;
- organising and overseeing tests of new drugs and medicines, ensuring quality control and securing approval for their use;
- liaising with regulatory authorities to ensure compliance with local, national and international regulations;
- planning, coordinating and supervising the duties of other technical staff and training or mentoring early-career pharmacologists;
- writing original papers based on your findings for submission to specialist publications.
You can only become a pharmacologist if you have a degree in a relevant scientific discipline. Pharmacology is the most relevant, but other appropriate subjects include:
- biomedical/biochemical sciences
- strong IT skills, including data retrieval and analysis;
- good communication skills for writing papers and reports and giving presentations;
- problem-solving skills and the ability to find and employ creative solutions when carrying out experiments;
- the ability and desire to work collaboratively in multidisciplinary teams;
- an enthusiasm and aptitude for learning new skills and techniques;
- time management and organizational skills;
- a methodical approach to work and attention to detail;
- networking skills and the ability to build effective links with external organizations;
- leadership potential and the skills to manage and motivate others.