Industries & Professions /
Pharmacologists are highly trained scientists who study the effects drugs and other chemical agents have on humans, animals, and plants. They may create new drugs, test old drugs for new uses, or study the interaction between drugs or other chemical agents and an organism to find out how a disease progresses. Pharmacologists perform research in laboratories using cultured cells, laboratory animals, plants, human tissues, precision electronic instruments, and computers. They try to answer such questions as: What is a drug's effect on the cellular system of the tissue or other subject being studied? How is the drug absorbed, distributed, and released from the cells or organism? Are the cells or organism developing sensitivity to the drug and how is that happening? Pharmacology also involves studying therapeutics and toxicology as they relate to drugs and other chemical agents. Therapeutics refers to the drugs or other agents' action or influence on diseases as well as the diseases' influence on the properties of drugs and other agents. Pharmacologists specializing in drug research, for example, may study the therapeutic effects of medical compounds on specific organs or bodily systems. They identify potentially beneficial and potentially harmful side effects and are then able to predict the drug's usefulness against specific diseases. They also use this information to recommend proper dosages and describe circumstances in which a drug should be administered. Toxicology refers to the toxic effects of drugs used to treat diseases as well as the toxic effects of chemical agents in the environment, agriculture, and industry. Pharmacologists trying to identify if there is a hazardous substance in an environment that is making people ill, for example, are involved in toxicology. They may analyze chemicals to determine if dangerous amounts of lead, mercury, or ammonia are in workplaces, pesticides, food preservatives, or even common household items such as paints, aerosol sprays, and cleaning fluids.