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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.

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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.

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Research News

Pills and a bottle New Life for Toxic Antibiotics?
Understanding how some antibiotics cause toxicity in people may help researchers re-engineer them to make them safer.

Artery with fat deposits and a formed clot. Credit: Stock image. Nanoparticles Developed to Stick to Damaged Blood Vessels, Deliver Drugs
Engineered nanoparticles could offer a new non-surgical option for delivering cardiovascular drugs to damaged arteries.

A form of heparinAnti-Clotting Drugs: The Next Generation
A synthetic form of the anti-clotting drug heparin offers several advantages over the animal-derived version, including alleviating the risk of contamination from natural sources.

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Contact lens. Credit: Peter Mallen, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Laboratory/Kohane Laboratory, Boston Children's Hospital.An Experimental Contact Lens to Prevent Glaucoma-Induced Blindness
A specially designed contact lens that can release a glaucoma medicine at a steady rate for up to a month offers numerous potential clinical advantages over the standard eyesight-saving treatment.

Photo of a diverse group of peopleUsing Genes to Guide Prescriptions
Scientists in a research field called pharmacogenomics aim to understand how genes influence individual drug responses. Here are examples of their findings related to different medical conditions.

HIV protease with saquinavirAspirin to Zoloft: Ways Medicines Work
Details about protein structure and function shed light on how some common medicines work.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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Medicines By Design CrosswordMedicines By Design Crossword Puzzle | Accessible Version

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This page last reviewed on April 17, 2014