Skip Over Navigation Links

Other topics

Science Education: Pharmacology

MedicinesUnderstanding how medicines work in the body and finding ways to make them to work better—that's pharmacology. Studies in pharmacology focus on questions like:

  • How are medicines processed inside the body?
  • How does a person's genetic makeup influence a drug's effectiveness?
  • Can we find new uses for existing medicines?

Follow the links below to learn more about pharmacology, including recent discoveries, and read profiles of researchers working in this field.


Cover image of Medicines by DesignMedicines By Design
Discusses the many different ways medicines work in the body and how this information guides the hunt for drugs of the future.

Cover image of Medicines for YouMedicines for You: Studying How Your Genes Can Make a Difference
Describes research on personalized medicines and why it's important.

All booklets

Fact Sheets

DataFrequently Asked Questions About Pharmacogenomics
Pharmacogenomics is focused on how genes affect individual responses to medicines. Learn more about this field and how it could help doctors pick the right treatment option for each patient.

MedicinesHow Medicines Work
We're developing a better understanding of drugs and how the body responds to them. Read how this knowledge is helping us improve the way medicines work.

All fact sheets

Articles on Research Advances

Illustration of red, green and blue fluorescent proteins. Credit: University of Massachusetts Amherst.A Bright New Method for Rapidly Screening Cancer Drugs
A sensor that consists of blue, green and red fluorescent proteins bound to a gold nanoparticle was effective at distinguishing the mechanisms of individual drugs as well as combination therapies involving multiple drugs.

Open human mouth. Credit: Stock image. New Research Sheds Light on Drug-Induced Salivary Issues
A protein in salivary gland cells takes up a drug from the bloodstream and secretes it in saliva, contributing to impaired taste.

Hippocampal neuron in culture. Credit: Shelley Halpain, University of California, San Diego. Anesthesia and Brain Cells: A Temporary Disruption?
An anesthetic temporarily disrupts important structures within neurons, suggesting that other molecular mechanisms may contribute to the late effects of anesthesia exposure.

More research advances

Profiles: Meet a Scientist

Julie JohnsonThe Right Fit
Clinical pharmacist Julie Johnson researches how genes affect the body's response to medicines.

Lola Eniola-AdefesoSpecial Delivery
Chemical engineer "Lola" Eniola-Adefeso studies methods to improve the delivery of heart disease drugs.

Serrine LauChemical World
Toxicologist Serrine Lau studies the role of genes in the body's response to chemical exposure.

More profiles

Audio and Video

Chelsea MoralesStudent Chelsea Morales on her career path Link to external Web site
Chelsea Morales, a graduate student and member of the White Clay (Gros-Ventre) Nation, talks about how she hopes her research in pharmacogenomics will help Native American peoples.

Erica WoodahlDr. Erica Woodahl on the promise of personalized medicine Link to external Web site
Erica Woodahl shares how research in pharmacogenetics can improve human health and address health disparities—especially those related to cancer—in tribal peoples.

Rochelle LongDr. Rochelle Long on Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine
NIGMS' Rochelle Long talks about pharmacogenomics and personalized medicines.

More audio and video


Ecteinascidin 743Anti-Tumor Drug Ecteinascidin 743 (ET-743)
Ecteinascidin 743 (ET-743, brand name Yondelis) was discovered and isolated from a sea squirt, Ecteinascidia turbinata.

Antibodies in silica honeycombAntibodies in Silica Honeycomb
Antibodies are among the most promising therapies for certain forms of cancer, but patients must take them intravenously.

Dose Response CurvesDose-Response Curves
Dose-response curves determine how much of a drug (X-axis) causes a particular effect, or a side effect, in the body (Y-axis).

More images


Medicines By Design CrosswordMedicines By Design Crossword Puzzle | Accessible Version

Other topics

All quizzes and puzzles

This page last reviewed on January 26, 2015