What is Pharmacology?

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Pharmacology is the study of drugs and how they affect the body. Pharmacology, which often refers to creating new chemical substances and analyzing the effects of established medicinal compounds, can also apply to the practice of looking at how harmful drugs affect the individual. Pharmacology involves elements of toxicology, biology, chemistry, and physiology, and is a broad scientific field applicable to many careers in the life sciences area.

To find out more about the difference between pharmacy and pharmacology click here and visit this careers website to study pharmacology in the UK . Universities in America also offer degrees in pharmacology. Non-US citizens traveling to the United States for educational or recreational purposes need health insurance from a recognized provider. A popular affordable option is available at inboundusainsurance.net

It is important to note the difference between the studies of pharmacy and pharmacology. Courses in pharmacy are geared towards equipping graduates with licenses to dispense prescription medicines in pharmacies, or to become a pharmacist. Pharmacology courses focus on the research aspect of this science, teaching the student to investigate the effects of chemical compounds and to innovate ways of creating remedies to the many physical and mental ailments which affect people and animals.

Pharmacology Course Descriptions

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The New York Medical college offers the following basic pharmacology courses for nurses:

PHARM 1000 Fundamentals of Pharmacology
This course introduces the underlying principles of pharmacology and provides a perspective of the historical, regulatory (FDA) and industrial aspects of pharmacological science. This includes overviews of the physiological, biochemical, and anatomical foundations for the interaction of drugs and chemicals with biological systems. This course is intended to orient new graduate students to the general scope of pharmacologic science.
PHARM 1010, 1020 Pharmacology
This basic course in pharmacology introduces the student to concepts of the interactions of chemical agents with living tissues. The teaching of pharmacological principles and mechanisms is emphasized, but toxicology and therapeutics are also part of the program.
PHARM 1410 Pharmacology
This basic course in pharmacology is taken with the sophomore medical student class, introducing the student to the basic concepts of the interactions of chemical agents with living tissues. Demonstrations performed by the graduate students are presented to illustrate basic pharmacological principles and exemplify the therapeutic and toxic actions of important drugs and poisons. The teaching of basic pharmacology is emphasized, but toxicology and therapeutics are also part of the course.
PHARM 2010 Drug Metabolism and Disposition
The course teaches the basic principles of drug absorption, metabolism and pharmacodynamics, drug-drug interaction, and drug interactions with diet, including fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. These factors are important in drug disposition in the organs involved in biotransformation and metabolism. The emphasis will be on methodology, bioavailability, and other aspects of modern clinical and biotechnological pharmacology, such as drug-targeting in genetic disease (including sense and antisense drugs), methods of DNA drug delivery for altering protein and growth factor expression, and effects on drug action.
PHARM 2030 Biochemical Pharmacology
The cellular and molecular mechanisms of drug actions with emphasis on gene-based approaches will be studied. Biochemical laboratory techniques used in pharmacological research will be introduced.

Basic Pharmacology – How Drugs Work?

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Have you ever wondered how aspirin knows to go to your head when you have a headache and to your elbow when you have “Tennis Elbow”? On the other hand, how one or two small aspirins containing only 325-650 mg of active drug can relieve a headache or ease the inflammation of a strained muscle or tendon in a 195 lb. athlete?
The answer to the first question is that drugs are distributed throughout the body by the blood and other fluids of distribution. When arriving at the intended destination where action is needed they act in binding to receptors? Receptors are found on the cells outer membranes and other times inside enzymes in a cell.
A receptor works like a light switch that you turn on and off when it gets drug stimulation. For example, narcotic pain relievers like morphine bind to receptors in the brain that sense pain and decrease the intensity of that perception. Non-narcotic pain relievers like aspirin, Motrin or Tylenol bind to enzymes, which are located in cells outside of the brain close to where the pain is localized and decrease the formation of biologically-active substances known as prostaglandins, which cause pain and inflammation.
These analgesics are often found to decrease the sensitivity of the local pain nerves that cause fewer pain impulses to be sensed and transmitted to the brain for recognition. Another example of drugs, which bind to a receptor that is not part of your body, is antibiotics. Antibiotics bind to portions of a bacterium that is living in your body and making you sick. Most antibiotics inhibit an enzyme inside the bacteria, which causes the bacteria either to stop reproducing or to die from inhibition of a vital biochemical process.

Basic Pharmacology in Mental Health

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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) offers a seven-week online course, which focuses on basic pharmacology of substance abuse and mental health. It is the ideal course for care providers, front-line workers, clinicians, and case managers working in substance abuse programs and mental health programs. The topic areas covered are pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, how neurotransmitters work as well as the effect of substance use on the brain and the effects of psychiatric medications on the brain.
On completion of this basic pharmacology course individuals will be able to:
• Describe three pharmacological approaches in the treatment of substance abuse problems
• Describe the management of common medication side effects
• Describe the mechanisms of specific drug actions in a brain
• Describe the four basic concepts of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics
• Identify the relationship between psychiatric disorders and medication management
• Identify basic neurobiological mechanisms.
An elective has to be taken within a four-year period on completion of this core course and any other courses taken will not count towards the certificate a graduate will receive. A concurrent disorders course must be taken first and after completion, graduates have to complete two of the following electives listed:
• Youth and drugs and mental health course
• Motivational interviewing introduction course
• Legal issues in mental health care in Ontario
• Interactions between substances of abuse and psychiatric medicines
• Integrating of a concurrent disorder approach into withdrawal management
• Collaboration with families affected by concurrent disorders
• Admission, assessment, and discharge tools
The cost of the basic pharmacology in mental health and substance use is a registration fee of $325 and $150 CAMH Staff fee. The course can be taken on its own as it qualifies as elective for a concurrent disorders certificate program. Applicant interested in taking this course can register online any time from October 6 – December 6 2013 for the next course.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Course in Pharmacology

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers an open course in the Principle of basic Pharmacology. Students completing the course will do so at graduate level and the course description is as follows:
The course’s object is the teaching of student the approach to the study of pharmacological agents. The intent of the course is not a pharmacopoeia review. The focus of the course is on the basic principles of physiology, biochemistry and biophysics as it is related to the different mechanisms of metabolism, bio distribution and drug action.
Thee full course consist of student-led case discussions and lectures. Topics covered include:
• Substance abuse
• Drug interaction
• Toxicity of pharmacological agents
• Drug metabolism
• Drug delivery systems
• Pharmacokinetics
• Dose-response relations
• Mechanisms of drug action
Classes of agents and selected agents are examined in full detail during the course.
Students must complete three assignments in this course, a problem set, a drug evaluation report and a case discussion.
Student-led case discussions cover some important topics in basic pharmacology which are only covered briefly or sometimes not addressed in faculty lectures. The case discussion are all based on real incidents and embellished to bring important factors to the foreground. Students taking this course should try not to get side tracked by interesting clinical details, but stick to the basic pharmacology issues at hand.
Case discussions are analysed by two students and students are expected to give oral presentations. The first student may have to for example cover the clinical aspects and the other the pharmacological background of cases. Bibliographical research is the responsibility of students and review articles and textbooks will suffice.
Case topics
• Organophosphate Poisoning
• Anticoagulation
• Ulcerative Colitis and Sulfasalazine
• Pheochromocytoma
• Asthma
• Poison control
• Cocaine – MI
• Glaucoma
• Pharmacogenetics
• Hyperthyroidism
• Placental transfer
• Gout
• Analgesia – placebo response
• Geriatric pharmacology
• Antiemetics
• Acute renal failure
• Lithium toxicity
• Alcohol
• Allergy
• Migraine
• Folate
• Oral hypoglycemics
• Analgesia – terminal cancer
• Drug abuse

Books on Basic Pharmacology for Nurses

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• NEW Basic Pharmacology for Nurses – Baker, Valerie O’Toole, Sandra Cooper and Bruce D. Clayton is a new book with free shipping on eBay at $33,46
• Basic Pharmacology for Nurses – Pageburst Digital Book – by Michelle Willihnganz and Bruce D. Clayton and publication year 2012 is sold directly by Barnes & Noble for $45.52
• Basic Pharmacology for Nurses – Clayton, Cooper and Stock with a study guide sells at $40.00
• Basic Pharmacology for Nurses by Clayton, Harroun and Stock with a free CD are available at $20,00 on eBay
• Study Guide for Basic Pharmacology for Nurses – Yvonne N. Stock, Valerie Baker, Sandra Cooper and Bruce D. Clayton and publication year is 2009 at price of $29,99 and free shipping
• Study guide for Basic Pharmacology for Nurses – Bruce D. Clayton BS PharmD RPh, Yvonne N. Stock and Valerie O’Toole Baker is a second-hand book with obvious wear and cover damage but all inside integrity is intact. It is a 2006 edition and sells at $8.23 and free shipping
• Basic Pharmacology for Nurses, 16 edition by Bruce D. C Layton and Michelle Willihnganz is a trade paper published in 2012. It is a used book, but looks new and no visible wear is present and sells at $42.43
• Study Guide for Basic Pharmacology for nurses by Yvonne N. Stock, Valerie Baker, Sandra Cooper and Bruce D. Clayton is a trade paper published in 2009 and brand new, selling at $15.00
• Basic Pharmacology for Nurses, 1965 – Jessie E. squire and published in 1965. Some handwritten notes are inside the book which has some obvious wear but inside is intact with no missing pages and sells at $3.99
• Study guide for Basic Pharmacology for nurses – Yvonne N. Stock, Valerie Baker, Bruce D. Clayton and Sandra Cooper is also second hand, but in good condition. Publication year is 2009 and sells at $19.99

Subdivisions of Pharmacological Sciences

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Basic Pharmacology is the studying of not only medicine, but also veterinary medicines, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy. Knowledge about chemical properties, sources, therapeutic uses and biological effect of drugs and determining of the effects of chemical agents on subcellular mechanisms all falls under basic pharmacology studies. Following is a brief look at some of the different subdivisions of Pharmacology.
Behavioral Pharmacology is studying drug effects on behavior. Topics will include psychoactive drug effects on drug addiction, sleep, wakefulness, memory, and learning abilities.
Cardiovascular Pharmacology is the effect that drugs have on a heart, regulating of cardiovascular function, vascular system, blood flow to vascular beds, arterial pressure and more related to the heart.
Biochemical Pharmacology uses biochemistry, cell physiology, and cell biology in the determination of drug interaction and influencing biochemical abnormalities in human disease.
Clinical Pharmacology studies involve pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in humans and the workings of drugs, interactions of drugs with other drugs and the effects it have in altering diseases. Researchers in clinical pharmacology determine the different responses found in different human beings using the same drug.
Chemotherapy research and develop drugs related to malignancies and microbial infections.
Molecular Pharmacology researches the biophysical and biochemical characteristics of the interactions between cells and drug molecules.
Veterinary Pharmacology studies drugs in health problems and diseases unique in animals.
Therapeutic Pharmacology focuses on effects and actions of drugs relating to biochemical, physiological, immunological, microbiological and behavioral factors that influence diseases.
Systems and Integrative Pharmacology researches toxicity and drug action.
Pharmacology Education studies have undergraduate programs, graduate degrees, professional degrees in Pharmacy, medical and veterinary schools and universities.
Neuropharmacology researchers study the effects of drugs on the nervous system and include the spinal cord, brain and all nerves which communicate within the body. Neurochemical disorders are probed in order to find drugs to treat specific disorders.

Top ranking colleges in Pharmacy

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According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities published by the Institute of Higher Education at the Shanghai Jiao Tong  University, Harvard University is ranked Number One among the world’s top 100 institutions for Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy in 2009, followed by UC San Francisco (2nd) and University of Washington (3rd).

ARWU Top 50 Institutions for Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy (2009):
1 Harvard University
2 University of California, San Francisco
3 University of Washington
4 The Johns Hopkins University
5 Columbia University
6 University of California, Los Angeles
7 The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
8 Karolinska Institute
8 University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
10 University College London
11 Stanford University
12 University of Pittsburgh
13 University of Oxford
14 Mayo Medical School
15 University of Cambridge
16 University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
17 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
18 Vanderbilt University
19 The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
20 University of Wisconsin – Madison
21 Yale University
22 Duke University
23 The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
24 University of Pennsylvania
25 University of California, San Diego
26 Tufts University
27 University of Nottingham
28 Emory University
29 University of Toronto
30 King’s College London
31 The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
32 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
33 Cornell University
33 Leiden University
35 University of California, Berkeley
36 Boston University
36 University of Zurich
38 University of Munich
39 Washington University in St. Louis
40 Brown University
40 McGill University
42 Kyoto University
42 Northwestern University
42 University of Colorado at Denver
45 University of Florida
46 University of Basel
46 University of Milan
48 University of Amsterdam
49 University of Rochester
50 University of Chicago