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What They Do

Medical Scientists Career Video

Insider Info

Pharmacologists study the effects of drugs on biological systems. These research scientists specialize in understanding how chemical agents work in the body. These chemical agents can be hazardous materials such as pesticides and poisons, or they can be medicines and drug treatments used to combat illness and prevent disease.

Will we ever find a cure for cancer? Pharmacologists are looking for treatments for this disease and for all ailments that afflict humans, such as Parkinson's disease, Hodgkin's disease and AIDS. Some pharmacologists also specialize in veterinary medicine.

To do this work, pharmacologists conduct research and clinical trials for new drug treatments. They also evaluate products for pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacologists can also work in government agencies that detect, regulate and license new drugs on the market.

Pharmacologists can specialize in a number of different areas. These include pharmacodynamics, which is the study of the mechanics of drug action. Or they can specialize in drug metabolism, which deals with the absorption rate of drugs. Toxicologists study poisons. Clinical pharmacologists generally have more training, such as a medical background, and conduct independent studies.

Pharmacologists can work in clinical or research laboratories, in universities, hospitals or in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.

Pharmacologists work an average 35-hour week. But they can be called on to work a lot of overtime when a project or research trial is near completion.

Physical requirements aren't strenuous for pharmacologists. Some travel might be required for scientists to attend workshops and conferences.

At a Glance

Study the effects of drugs on people

  • Pharmacologists work an average 35-hour week
  • You can work in research labs, hospitals or the biotech industry
  • A bachelor's degree in pharmacology is the minimum requirement


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