What is Pharmacology?

Pharmacology is the knowledge of the biochemical and physiological actions of drugs. A drug is broadly defined as any chemical that affects biological processes. The age-old quest to understand the effects of powerful ancient poisons, stimulants, and herbal medicines forms the historical roots of pharmacology: the deadly hemlock extract that filled Socrates’ cup of poison; cocaine, a narcotic long-known to the Andean natives (its mode of action is in the center of current research on drug addiction); foxglove, the source of digitalis glycosides used in medieval England as well as in modern medicine for the treatment of heart failure.

Many drugs act on cellular signaling pathways. The molecular basis of cellular signaling and its control by various drugs is a major aspect of modern pharmacology and this aspect is emphasized in the Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology. The majority of signal transduction pathways still awaits discovery or at least a thorough molecular characterization. Members of our Graduate Program employ the whole spectrum of modern biochemical, cell and molecular biological, physiological, and pharmacological methods in a strictly basic research-oriented scientific environment to unravel the many unsolved mysteries underlying cellular regulation and signaling. Certain research initiatives have a translational component, with the goal of applying basic discoveries to developing new therapeutic modalities.

The members of the Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology invite you to examine the educational and research opportunities described at this site, and to consider joining this unique and exciting Graduate Program.