The Discipline

What is Pharmacology and Therapeutics?

Pharmacology is the study of the effects of drugs on living organisms where a drug can be broadly defined as any chemical substance, natural or synthetic, that affects a biological system. Studies may involve how organisms handle drugs, mechanism of drug action, drug toxicity, the use of drugs as tools to delineate biological processes during health and disease, identification and validation of new cellular targets for drug action, and the design and development of new drugs. Because of its scope, pharmacology is an interdisciplinary science employing experimental approaches from many other scientific disciplines.

The academic missions of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics are:

  • To facilitate and promote fundamental and translational research which impacts the health of our citizens.
  • To educate and train undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate and professional students in the discipline of pharmacology.
  • To provide professional service to the college, institution, community and at the national level.

The department fosters independent but interactive research programs leading to the discovery of new knowledge that will impact our basic understanding, prevention or treatment of disease. Major research foci of the faculty are in the areas of neuro-pharmacology, cancer pharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology, retinopathy, inflammation, obesity, aging and gene therapy. A significant number of faculty are actively involved in new drug development. Extramural research support is provided from federal, private and industrial sources. All faculty have developed productive collaborations with investigators in other departments and through associations with research centers and institutes.

The department has a strong commitment to the education of students to understand and apply the principles of pharmacology and to train students in multidisciplinary research. Trainees include undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and M.D., Ph.D. students. Graduate education and training is through the College of Medicine Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences. Professional education includes medical, physician assistants and dental students.