Pharmacology is a distinct field of study in the health sciences that is frequently mistaken with pharmacy. Pharmacology is the branch of science that studies how medications affect biological systems and how the body reacts to them. Pharmacology is the study of how medications are made, their chemical composition, biological effects, and therapeutic applications. By properly preparing and delivering medications, pharmacy employs the knowledge gained from pharmacology to produce the best therapeutic results.

Pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, and veterinary medicine are just a few of the fields whose knowledge is combined in pharmacology. Pharmacology is uniquely positioned to contribute to human health because of its integrated character.

When you are:

  • A highly motivated college student aiming for a fulfilling career in the biomedical sciences ardent about making a significant contribution to the knowledge of both novel and contemporary disease processes a desire to discover novel treatments for use in clinics.

    We advise you to read up on pharmacology. In a booklet titled Explore Pharmacology, a thorough overview of the field is provided, along with a list of interesting research fields and an explanation of the various career options available to people with pharmacology expertise.


  • Clinical pharmacology has its roots in the Middle Ages with pharmacognosy, Avicenna’s The Canon of Medicine, Peter of Spain’s Commentary on Isaac, and John of St. Amand’s Commentary on the Antedotary of Nicholas.
  • Early pharmacology emphasised the use of plants and other natural compounds, primarily herbal remedies. Pharmacopoeias are books that include a list of medications. Since the beginning of time, chemicals derived from natural sources have been prepared as crude medications. But because the substance is contaminated with other components, crude medicines’ active ingredients are not refined.
  • Traditional medical practices differ from one culture to the next and might sometimes be unique to that culture, as in the case of traditional Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Korean medicine. But a lot of this is now considered to be pseudoscience. Entheogens are pharmacological compounds that have been used historically and for spiritual and religious purposes.
  • Nicholas Culpeper, an English physician, used and translated pharmacological materials in the 17th century. Culpeper provided a list of plants and the ailments they could treat.
  • Much of clinical pharmacology was developed in the 18th century thanks to William Withering’s expertise. During the great biomedical renaissance of the mid-19th century, pharmacology did not make any scientific advancements. Prior to the second half of the nineteenth century, explanations for the unusual strength and specificity of medications like morphine, quinine, and digitalis’ effects were hazy and made reference to their extraordinary chemical properties and affinities for particular organs or tissues. Rudolf Buchheim established the first pharmacology department in 1847 in response to the requirement to comprehend how poisons and therapeutic medications caused their effects. The first pharmacology department in England was subsequently established at University College London in 1905.


There are numerous sub-disciplines within the field of pharmacology, each with a distinct focus.

The body’s systems:

Pharmacology may also concentrate on particular bodily systems. Divisions that focus on bodily systems research how medications affect the body’s various systems. These include immunopharmacology for the immune system and neuropharmacology for the central and peripheral nervous systems. Cardiovascular, renal, and endocrine pharmacology are further subfields. The study of how medications that influence the mind, behaviour, and psyche (such antidepressants) are used to treat mental diseases is known as psychopharmacology (e.g. depression). With an interest in the behavioural and neurobiological processes of action of psychoactive drugs, it combines methods and approaches from behavioural neuroscience, animal behaviour, and neuropharmacology.

A branch of metabolomics—the measurement and study of metabolites produced by the body—is known as pharmacometabolomics, also known as pharmacometabonomics.

Clinical application and medication development:

Clinical sciences are fields where pharmacology can be applied. Clinical pharmacology is the study of medications in humans using pharmacological concepts and methods. Posology, the study of dosage patterns for medications, serves as an illustration of this.

Toxicology and pharmacology are closely connected fields. Toxicology and pharmacology are scientific fields that concentrate on comprehending the characteristics and functions of chemicals. Toxicology, on the other hand, is the study of chemical side effects and risk assessment, whereas pharmacology focuses the therapeutic effects of chemicals, typically medications or substances that potentially become drugs.

In medicine and pharmacy, pharmacotherapy recommendations are based on pharmacological knowledge.

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Sub-tracks of Pharmacology:

Drug development:

The study area of drug discovery is focused on developing novel medications. It includes the drug development and design subfields. Drug design, the creative process of locating new medications, is where drug discovery begins. Creating molecules that are complementary in shape and charge to a certain biomolecular target is what this means in its most basic form. Medicine development entails bringing a drug to market after a lead compound has been found through drug discovery. Pharmacoeconomics, a branch of health economics that examines the value of medications, is connected to drug discovery. Pharmacoeconomics assesses the costs and benefits of medications to help determine the best use of healthcare resources.

Expanded contexts:

Pharmacology can be examined in relation to more extensive contexts than just an individual’s physiology. For instance, pharmacoepidemiology, the link between clinical pharmacology and epidemiology, focuses on the variability in pharmacological effects within or between populations. The study of how discarded pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) affect the environment after being eliminated from the body is known as pharmacoenvironmentology or environmental pharmacology. Since human health and ecology are closely intertwined, environmental pharmacology investigates how pharmaceuticals, personal care items, and medications affect the environment.

Recent fields:

An innovative medical strategy called photopharmacology uses light to activate and deactivate medicines.

To change the drug’s form and chemical makeup, which alters its biological function, light energy is utilized. This is done to eventually establish control over when and where medications are active in a reversible manner, to stop side effects, and to stop drug contamination of the environment.

Pharmaceutical science theory:

The biological system that the chemical is affecting must be thoroughly understood. The study of pharmacology has undergone major changes as cell biology and biochemistry have become more widely understood. Through the molecular analysis of receptors, it is now possible to create drugs that directly alter cell-surface receptor sites to influence particular cellular signalling or metabolic processes (which modulate and mediate cellular signalling pathways controlling cellular function).

Chemicals can have effects and characteristics that are significant to pharmacology. Pharmacodynamics defines how a substance affects the body while pharmacokinetics describes how the substance affects the body (e.g., half-life and volume of distribution) (desired or toxic).

Systems, ligands, and receptors:

Pharmacology is frequently researched in relation to specific systems, such as endogenous neurotransmitter systems. Acetylcholine, adrenaline, glutamate, GABA, dopamine, histamine, serotonin, cannabinoid, and opioid are among the primary systems examined in pharmacology and can be categorised by their ligands.

Pharmacology has receptors, enzymes, and membrane transport proteins as its molecular targets. Enzyme inhibitors can target specific enzymes. Usually, receptors are categorised according to their structure and function. G protein coupled receptors, ligand gated ion channels, and receptor tyrosine kinases are some of the main receptor types investigated in pharmacology.