Pharmacologists conduct research on how drugs and certain chemicals interact with biological systems such as the human body. Generally, these experts test compounds and substances that can be used as new medications. Some pharmacologists focus on the effects of harmful chemicals. Others conduct studies on the harmful and beneficial chemical effects on specific regions of the body.
Pharmacology is a branch of medicine and biology that deals with the study of drug / chemical action in living organisms. Using multiple scientific fields like biochemistry, pathology, and anatomy, pharmacologists help us understand biochemical and physiological processes. It is the pharmacologist that uncovers how chemicals and medications interact or react in the human body.
Those who are interested in this profession may apply directly to drug companies, universities, hospitals, or government agencies.
Duties and Responsibilities
The main duty of a pharmacologist is to study how drugs and chemicals interact with the human body. He conducts experiments on animals or on willing human subjects in order to determine which compound or substance is effective for medication. It is the pharmacologist who finds preventive methods and remedies for diseases.
A pharmacologist also studies the effects of gases, dusts, and other materials. He standardizes drug dosages and immunization methods as well as standardizes procedures of drug manufacturing and medicinal compounds.
Duties may also include studying the effects of pesticides, wherein pharmacologists assess the effects of parasites, pesticides, and microorganisms at different levels. Pharmacologists evaluate effects of new drug formulas, delivery, and treatment methods on laboratory animals.
There are many types of pharmacologists. Clinical pharmacologists are experts that deal with human medication. Veterinary pharmacologists conduct research on drug effects on animals. Behavioral pharmacologists specialize on drug effects on human behavior. Neuropharmacologists study the effect of substances on the nervous system. The experts who studies drug effects on cells are molecular pharmacologists.
The majority of pharmacologists do laboratory work in drug companies and hospitals. Some venture into teaching in prestigious universities.
Skills and Education
Aspiring pharmacologists should have a bachelor’s degree in sciences and mathematics or other related courses. A pharmacologist should have both a doctorate and a medical degree to conduct clinical studies. An educational background in fields like toxicology, chemistry, biology, and microbiology is definitely an advantage.
Most experienced pharmacologists continue their education. They often focus on specializing in one area of pharmacology or lead research teams or university departments.
Candidates for this profession should have extensive knowledge in the field and must be able to gather, analyze, and understand medical data. A pharmacologist should have excellent communication skills. He should also be capable of operating medical equipment and other machineries.
Work Conditions and Salary
Pharmacologists generally spend long hours in laboratories and research libraries. There is a projected rise in demand for this professional in the future. Currently, pharmacologists are employed by the government, universities, and private industries.
Salary varies depending on the person’s experience, education, and the employer. Entry level workers usually receive around $30,000 to $97,000 yearly. The highest compensation is $155,000 a year as of 2010.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/