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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 developments, 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 Sheet

Pharmacogenomics, a component of precision medicine, is focused on how genes affect individual responses to medications. Learn more about this field and how it could help doctors pick the right treatment option for each patient.

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Science Highlights

Vampire bat. Credit: Stock image Nature's Medicine Cabinet
More than 70 percent of new drugs approved within the past 30 years originated from trees, sea creatures, and other organisms. Here's a peek at some of the products in nature's medicine cabinet.

Kevin Tracey. Credit: North Shore-LIJ Studios. From Basic Research to Bioelectronic Medicine
Kevin J. Tracey of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research answers questions about his research, the scientific process and where bioelectronic medicine, a discipline he helped launch, is headed next.

Cryptococcus. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Designing Drugs That Kill Invasive Fungi Without Harming Humans
Chemically modifying a powerful antifungal medicine leads to derivatives with a long-sought combination of therapeutic properties.

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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 Website
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 Website
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 August 14, 2015