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Pharmacology fuses science and industry

For the budding scientist with an interest in medicinal chemistry, a pharmacy degree has traditionally been a way into a healthcare career, providing advice to patients and customers about medicines and healthy lifestyle. But what about those students who might not naturally fit into that customer-facing career path, who simply want to focus on the science?

The answer is a degree in pharmacology, like the University of East Anglia’s new course beginning this September. Where pharmacy is the study of drugs and how to use them, pharmacology is the study of how drugs work and how they are researched.

Dr Maria O’Connell, Head of Pharmacology in UEA’s School of Pharmacy and the designer of the new course, said: “There are students who are interested in biology and chemistry and medicine, but they are not that interested in facing customers – it’s the science they like. This new degree is much more about defining the skills for working in industry: studying drugs, designing them, making them, seeing how they work in the body and getting them out into the market.”

The new Pharmacology and Drug Discovery degree would lead naturally into a career in industry and research, and will appeal to students who expect their degree to give them transferrable skills and an obvious employability and marketability. While the degree is built around a core curriculum of biology and chemistry recommended by the British Pharmacological Society, almost a sixth of this three-year degree, Dr O’Connell said, will be devoted to understanding the business side of pharmacology.

There will be placements in industry, from large pharmaceutical businesses and their subsidiaries to smaller “incubator” or start-up companies. UEA’s Norwich Business School will contribute to the course with elements on business structures and project management and employability skills will be embedded throughout the course like writing CVs and preparing for interviews.

While the new UEA degree is unique in its combination of pharmacology and medicinal chemistry, along with business, there are other degrees around the UK which focus on pharmacology or which include pharmacology units in their curriculum.

It’s a field of study that could suit a student who is investigative, who sees himself or herself making discoveries and developing innovative products in a burgeoning industry – and maybe even pursuing postgraduate research and turning their ideas into their own start-up business.

Find more information about the new UEA degree.

Or search‘s course finder by region for pharmacology:

Posted by Nicholas Manthorpe on Fri, 10 Feb 2017

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Nick was a reporter for the Eastern Daily Press and its sister weekly titles in Norfolk and Waveney, then served as Media Officer for North Norfolk District Council for 13 years. He now works as a writer and PR and media relations consultant. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, an associate member of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of East Anglian Writers.

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