Pharmacologists are knowledgeable professionals who focus their work into researching and understanding the chemical processes that take place between living organisms and different substances and compounds. The main purpose of a Pharmacologist is to create, develop, and test new medications in order to evaluate their possible effects on humans or animals.
There are several branches and specializations in the field of Pharmacology. The main difference between them is the type of illness and diseases they study. Toxicology, for instance, studies the effects of various venoms and poisons in order to develop the appropriate antidotes. There’s also neuropharmacology, which focuses on the chemical processes of the brain and the nervous system in order to develop treatments for neurological and mental diseases.
Pharmacologists are mostly employed by private or public pharmaceutical companies. These companies may specialize in developing new medications and treatments for different diseases or they may focus on improving existing formulas to increase their effectiveness. Pharmacologists’ work is often entirely laboratory-based.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Pharmacologists are required to complete.
- Working alongside other medical research scientists in order to conduct research to create, test, and distribute new pharmaceutical products, as well as improving existing ones:
- Analyzing the interaction and reaction of new and existing pharmaceutical compounds;
- always adhering to national and international safety and health regulations when conducting medical tests of new products; and
- monitoring and ensuring the quality of new products and drugs, as well as their safety and stability according to regulatory standards and procedures.
- Creating, coordinating, and carrying out experimental projects and trials to appropriately assess the behavior of certain drugs, elements, and substances:
- Devising and testing different hypotheses;
- applying the usage of systems, technology, and advanced devices to appropriately organize, assess, and measure incoming and outgoing information;
- organizing and overseeing tests of new drugs and medicines, ensuring quality control and securing approval for their use;
- testing drugs on cells or through clinical trials on animals and humans;
- guaranteeing that projects, trials, and experiments are carried out according to applicable regulatory measures and procedures; and
- ensuring that the drug produced can be safely consumed by humans or animals, as well as guaranteeing that it will lead to a possible cure or health improvement.
- Studying and evaluating the origin, effects, and spread methods of different pathogens.
- Researching and compiling the necessary information on drugs and substances’ behavior for the appropriate assessment and treatment of diseases, as well as the enhancement of health:
- Investigating the side effects of chemical and pharmaceutical substances, and how they behave within the different systems of an organism.
- Maintaining documentation, drafting detailed reports based on findings for later presentations, and keeping up-to-date with the latest advances in the field:
- Implementing guidelines of possible chemical compounds and formulas that could be used on different medications and for planning future experiments;
- participating in scientific conferences and symposiums in order to share their discoveries with colleagues;
- publishing research papers;
- providing expert testimony for marketing campaigns, if necessary; and
- staying updated on developments and discoveries made by colleagues.
- Analyzing test results and implementing them into the creation of new products.
- Overseeing, monitoring, and checking up on the tasks and responsibilities of other staff members, as well as training and teaching apprentices of related areas.
- Ensuring the organization and cleanliness of all working establishments and areas, as well as supervising the appropriate disposal and storage of utensils and materials.
- Doing standard maintenance and calibration duty on laboratory equipment:
- Contacting manufacturers and arranging for service in event of malfunction of equipment.
- Keeping up-to-date and complying with safety and health standards, as well as any applicable governmental parameter that regulates drug testing and distribution.
- Creating, testing, and distributing new medications and drugs.
- Testing specimens and samples.
- Using complex and technical laboratory equipment in order to collect, analyze, and store data.
- Carrying out clinical trials on animals or consenting adults, evaluating the possible side effects of medications.
- Keeping track of all compounds used and procedures followed.
- Writing and publishing research papers.
- Supervising laboratory staff.
- Working alongside other research scientists.
The average Pharmacologist salary in USA is $78,978 per year or $41 per hour. This is around 2.7 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $55,000 while most experienced workers make up to $111,000. These results are based on 3 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Knowledge of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
- Extensive mathematical and scientific knowledge, as well as a clear understanding of medical information.
- Enthusiasm and aptitude for learning new skills and techniques.
- Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with coworkers in the laboratory;
- being able to read and write technical reports, give presentations, and publish research papers; and
- being able to work cohesively as part of a multidisciplinary team of scientists.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using critical thinking and good judgment;
- employing creative solutions while carrying out experiments;
- being precise and accurate in their analyses, since errors could invalidate their research; and
- determining if results and conclusions are based on sound science.
- Organizational and time management skills, a methodical approach to work, and great attention to detail:
- Avoiding disorganization in the workplace that can lead to legal problems, damage to equipment, and chemical spills;
- being able to work independently, as well as part of a research team, and under pressure in a fast-paced environment;
- handling various experiments at the same time; and
- being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities accordingly.
- Trustworthy enough to manage sensitive/confidential information.
Pharmacologists must have both a bachelor’s degree and an advanced degree such as a Ph.D. in Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chemistry, or any other related field. A postgraduate research degree or Ph.D. can be beneficial and often leads to higher starting salaries. Research work and 3 to 5 years of experience gained using relevant scientific and analytical techniques can also be useful.
Pharmacologists who provide medications to patients, perform invasive procedures or conduct clinical trials need to have a license from a specialized, authorized medical institution.
Pharmacologists must have a strong background in math, IT, and science and need to be able to gather, analyze, interpret, and understand medical data. Pharmacologists could eventually move into another field of practice, such as medical sales and marketing, drug registration, patent work, or information science.
These professionals rarely work a regular shift as flexibility is needed in order to monitor and manage experiments. Thus, they may have to work long hours on weekends and holidays for the same reason, especially when deadlines are getting closer.