Masters in Medical Sciences – Pharmacology Concentration

student using pipette
Jordan Moretta, a graduate student

Pharmacology is a multidisciplinary field that broadly seeks to understand mechanisms of drug action and to develop novel therapeutics. The discipline requires in-depth knowledge of chemical and biological processes. The American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics defines Pharmacology as:

“The science of drug action on biological systems: In general terms, pharmacology is the science of drug action on biological systems. In its entirety, it embraces knowledge of the sources, chemical properties, biological effects and therapeutic uses of drugs. It is a science that is basic not only to medicine, but also to pharmacy, nursing, dentistry and veterinary medicine. Pharmacological studies range from those that determine the effects of chemical agents upon subcellular mechanisms, to those that deal with the potential hazards of pesticides and herbicides, to those that focus on the treatment and prevention of major diseases by drug therapy. Pharmacologists are also involved in molecular modeling of drugs, and the use of drugs as tools to dissect aspects of cell function. Integrating a depth of knowledge in many related scientific disciplines, pharmacologists offer a unique perspective to solving drug-, hormone-, and chemical-related problems which impinge on human health. As they unlock the mysteries of drug actions, discover new therapies, and develop new medicinal products, they inevitably touch upon all our lives. While remarkable progress has been made in developing new drugs and in understanding how they act, the challenges that remain are endless. New discoveries regarding fundamental life processes always raise new and intriguing questions that stimulate further research and evoke the need for fresh insight.”

The multidisciplinary nature of pharmacology involves an integrative approach to solving biomedical problems that requires understanding principles that span chemistry, biochemistry, cell biology and whole organism physiology. The core competencies of the MS program in Medical Science with a concentration in Pharmacology are addressed by knowledge and practical research objectives that include:

A. Knowledge:

  1. Gain an historical perspective of pharmacology
  2. Understand chemistry and structure-activity relationships
  3. Define principles of pharmacokinetics
  4. Define principles of pharmacodynamics
  5. Become familiar with clinical pharmacology and therapeutics
  6. Understand principles of toxicology
  7. Consider regulatory processes associated with drug development

B. Research Experience:

  1. Identify a currently relevant research topic in pharmacology
  2. Pose a hypothesis
  3. Utilize modern day methodologies
  4. Perform data analysis and troubleshooting
  5. Participate in team science

The MS in Medical Science with a concentration in Pharmacology (thesis degree concentration) is intended to provide students that successfully complete the program multiple opportunities to pursue different career objectives. Individuals seeking to start their careers in the pharmaceutical industry or government agencies (such as FDA) — or those already in an industry or government agency position that wish to advance their standing — will benefit from this concentration/program. In addition, the concentration is also appropriate for individuals who wish to further their academic credentials in order to enhance entry into a higher degree programs, i.e. Medical, Dental, Veterinary or Pharmacy Schools or, alternatively, a PhD program(s). The MS in Medical Science degree program with a concentration in Pharmacology requires both coursework and independent research and can be taken on a full- or part-time basis. The curriculum for the Pharmacology concentration includes the same core pharmacology courses that are required of the PhD students that perform their dissertation research in Pharmacology as part of the Medical Sciences PhD program.