Pill pundits

Updated on Aug 29, 2012 12:36 PM IST

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.

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HT Image
Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

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. 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

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 prepare 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. 1.5lakh to Rs. 2lakh per annum. You can expect a package of around Rs. 6lakh 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 getting 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

Getting there
Take a BPharm degree, followed by an MPharm 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 www.niper.ac.in
* Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, Delhi www.dipsar.in
* LM College of Pharmacy, Ahmedabad
* Jamia Hamdard, Delhi www.jamiahamdard.edu
* Panjab University, Chandigarh www.puchd.ac.in

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

Pharmacologists understand the mechanism of a drug and suggest the right therapy for the disease. They should have an innovative approach --Prakash V Diwan, president, Indian Pharmacological Society, Hyderabad

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