Subject Summary: Part IB Pharmacology
The course deals with the action of chemical substances on biological materials and thus has roots in both the physical and biological sciences. The first part of the course will be concerned with understanding, at the molecular level, how receptors work. These lectures will examine the fundamental processes of molecular recognition and then consider in detail how, having recognised a drug, receptors are able to generate a signal that changes cellular activity. Following a detailed consideration on synaptic pharmacology, lectures will focus on drugs that influence the function of the central nervous system. The second and third terms will emphasize the importance of combining molecular and cellular biology with more traditional pharmacological approaches, drawing on examples from the control of inflammation and immune responses. Lectures will focus on processes that control the distribution and fate of drugs in our body, with a lecture on general anaesthetics as an example. In addition, lectures will introduce the use of drugs to produce selective inhibition of bacteria, protozoa and viruses. This is followed by two lectures on drug discovery, by lectures on cell growth, cancer and anticancer drugs, and by lectures on steroid receptors and reproductive pharmacology. In the third term the molecular characteristics of ion channels will be combined with essential physiology to explain drug actions on the heart. Guidance for revision will be provided for students who have not taken Part IA Physiology of Organisms.
In the first term, a series of eight practicals complement the lectures by providing practical experience of basic techniques and illustrating important points. In the second term, most of the conventional practicals are replaced by mini-projects lasting for several sessions. In these you will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing research in the Department and to gain experience in performing research.
Programme Specification: Part IB Pharmacology
This course is taught by the Department of Pharmacology
- to offer a course of lectures in the qualitative aspects of Pharmacology;
- to offer practical exercises in the quantitative aspects of Pharmacology;
- to assess student progress and attainment by formal examinations and mini-project poster presentation.
At the end of the course, students should
- explain the principles of ligand-receptor interaction, local and intracellular messengers and integration of signalling pathways;
- identify the major classes of drug receptors and sites of drug action within the body;
- identify typical examples of drugs which are used to restore physiological functions in the cardiovascular, renal, respiratory, digestive, peripheral nervous and central nervous systems;
- demonstrate an understanding of the use of drugs to control inflammation and immune responses or to kill bacteria, viruses or malignant cells;
- apply the basic principles that govern the absorption, distribution and elimination of drugs to predict the time course of drug concentrations in the body and consider the implications of these principles for the therapeutic use of drugs;
- recognize the fundamental methods used in pharmacological research and be able to use basic pieces of research equipment.
Teaching and Learning Methods
These include lectures, practical classes, and seminars.
Assessment for this course is through:
- two unseen written examinations (for aim 1 and learning outcomes 1-5);
- one unseen practical examination (for aim 2 and learning outcomes 1, 5 and 6);
- presentation of a poster with data gathered in a mini-project (for aim 3 and learning outcomes 1-6).
Courses of Preparation
Essential: A Level Biology and/or Chemistry.
Recommended: Part IA of the NST, including any of Biology of Cells, Chemistry or Physiology of Organisms.
Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.