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Medicine man

Pharmacologists study the action of drugs on the human (or ­animal) body and the body’s reaction to them. They work with chemists to discover and develop new drugs.

education Updated: Oct 08, 2013 16:01 IST

The lowdown

Pharmacologists study the action of drugs on the human (or ­animal) body and the body’s reaction to them. They work with chemists to discover and develop new drugs. Pharmacology can be a great option for someone who is ­interested in ­pharmaceuticals, but doesn’t want to be a pharmacist directly interacting with patients. It’s a ­specialised area of study which accommodates degrees in diverse ­disciplines, ­including ­medicine (MD in pharmacology), ­dentistry, ­pharmacy, ­veterinary science, microbiology, virology, and ­certain basic ­sciences as well. Studies in pharmacology can be pursued up to the PhD level. Several career options are open to ­pharmacologists: they can work in research and development in the pharma industry; in clinical research organisations; medical information - in publishing as research scientists in a ­government or a private institute; in specialist public relations; and as ­medical advisers. They can also teach in medical and ­veterinary ­colleges; participate in drug discovery programmes; in regulatory affairs; do medical writing; environmental research; and work in ­pharmacovigilance. The scope of this field is immense, as pharmacologists are important ­members of drug discovery teams in search of newer ­molecules in the ­pharmaceutical industry

An average day of a pharmacologist working as a researcher, medical advisor, project coordinator:
9am: Review previous day’s work and plan for the day
10am to 1pm: Work in the lab
1pm to 2pm: Lunch
2pm to 5pm: Tabulate the results and analyse them using statistical methods. Interpretation of data and preparation for the next set of ­experiments
5pm to 8pm: Discuss the project with fellow scientists and analyse available data. Summarise the day’s work
8.30pm: Leave for the day

The ­payoff
After completing MSc or MPharm, you can earn Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh per annum. You can expect a ­package of around Rs. 6 lakh per annum as you gain experience. Senior research fellowship is ­awarded after MSc/MPharm, with one year experience and a research publication. Doctoral fellowships of Rs. 24,000 per month to ­pharmacologists are awarded by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and University Grants Commission (UGC). After completing a masters or PhD, you can apply for funds from CSIR, UGC, ICMR, department of science and ­technology, department of ­biotechnology, and the ministry of environment and forests for research work once you submit your project to these organisations. Post doctoral assignments after PhD allow you to carry out research in India or abroad

* Knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, medicinal chemistry
* Well-versed with statistical ­analysis
* Data representation and ­interpretation
* One needs to be accurate when recording and analysing data

Getting there
Take a B Pharm degree, followed by an M Pharm degree in ­pharmacology. There is also an MD programme in pharmacology for which you will be required to take the MBBS route. Some institutes admit students of related basic ­sciences as well. A PhD degree is desirable though

Institutes and URLs
* National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali
* Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, Delhi
* LM College of Pharmacy, Ahmedabad
* Jamia Hamdard, Delhi
* Panjab University, Chandigarh
* All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi

Pros and cons
* You get the chance to do ­innovative and groundbreaking work
* Contribute to society by ­discovering new drugs
* Your career growth will be steady but progressive
* Specialised career in research and development
* Only experts will flourish

As a pharmacologist, it gives me immense satisfaction that I am generating significant improvements in medical treatments. Only those who are interested in contributing to the development of new therapies should study pharmacology --- Dr BB Jain, member of Indian Pharmacological Society, Kolkata