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What is pharmacology?

Pharmacology is the study of how medicines work and how they affect our bodies.


The word ‘pharmacology’ comes from the ancient Greek words pharmakon (meaning ‘drug’) and logia (meaning ’knowledge of’).

Pharmacologists are scientists and medical doctors who research how medicines work, explore how different drugs and chemicals have an effect on our bodies, and try to find or develop new medicines. They also  use their understanding of  how different medicines work to ensure that they are used safely and effectively to treat patients, making a difference in people's lives every day.

Pharmacologists are different to pharmacists. Pharmacists prepare, give out and give advice about medicines that are already available.
A graphic comparing the differences between Pharmacology and Pharmacy. On the left, is an illustration of a person sitting behind a desk in a lab with test tubes and beakers. Below this it reads, "Pharmacology:  Pharmacology is the science of medicines and their effects on our bodies. Pharmacologists research and develop new medicines, improve our understanding of how medicines work, and make sure they are used effectively and safely for everyone." On the right is an illustration of a person standing behind a pharmacy counter which contains different bottles and containers of medicines. Below this it reads, "Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing and dispensing the drugs that have been developed and researched by pharmacologists. You might see pharmacists working at your local pharmacy, doctor's surgery, or hospital. They can give out medicines and share advice to help keep you healthy."


Interested in learning more?

Why not find out more what pharmacologists do, and where a career in pharmacology can take you? Or explore the important impact pharmacology has around the world?
 

Pharmacology Hall of Fame

Individuals who have have been recognised by the membership for their key roles in the development of pharmacology.