Introducing the Canadian Glossary of Pharmacology

On May 4th, 2022, the Education Committee of the Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CSPT) launched a peer-reviewed, open access, expanded glossary of commonly used pharmacological terms. This volunteer led initiative has served as a channel of reliable, accurate information to the public.  

Pharmacology, the science that studies the effects of drugs on biological systems, is a discipline that is present in daily life. An understanding of the basic principles of pharmacology is important not only for educators, researchers, and healthcare providers, but for all who take medicines.

The proper use of drugs directly impacts their therapeutic effectiveness. While there are many sources of drug-related information, the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised how misinformation about medicines and their use can negatively impact public health (Quispe-Cañari et al., 2021; Borges do Nascimento et al., 2022; Young and Kosatsky, 2022). Moreover, the new generation of learners, many of which will become future prescribers, increasingly turn to social media and online content to supplement their formal courses and practicums but the reliability and accuracy of online information is often uncertain. Recognising these fundamental issues, the CSPT Education Committee identified a need for a trusted, reliable, and easily accessible online resource. Thus, the purpose of this glossary is to provide pharmacology educators, researchers, clinicians, trainees, and the public with a reliable source of information that can be used for consultation and education.  

How is this resource different from others? In addition to definitions, each term is being expanded to include its clinical and experimental relevance, examples, illustrations, teaching tips, and suggested articles - hence, the expanded glossary. The expanded glossary is meant to provide context alongside definitions to increase understanding and to provide additional resources for educators and learners to facilitate learning and provide access to materials and ideas that can be used by educators in the classroom, laboratory, and clinic. Additionally, the glossary provides authors, editors, and users the opportunity to comment on terms and concepts to help unify language used in the field. The intention is to continue to refine and expand this resource with contributions by the CSPT membership. 

To date, there have been 14 contributors and editors to the glossary from a variety of backgrounds, career stages, and areas of expertise. Contributors have included pharmacology educators, basic and clinical pharmacologists, and journal editors ranging from trainees to early career researchers to esteemed professor emeriti from across Canada. It was surprising, although in hindsight should not have been, that differences and nuances exist in definitions and in how certain terms are used between centres. Our peer review process allows the glossary authors, and CSPT members, an opportunity to discuss the use of common terms and come to a consensus on definitions or highlight the different uses of terms. It is the goal of the CSPT Education Committee to continue to find diverse contributors and editors to the glossary and to maintain a range of expertise and experience levels in our peer review process to ensure multiple points of view are being considered. Additionally, contributing to the glossary has created a networking opportunity and is fostering a sense of community between CSPT members from across Canada. As the glossary expands, it will hopefully function to provide clarity, accuracy, and reliability to our common pharmacological language. 

Since the launch of the glossary in May, the glossary has attracted over 6200 views with visitors accessing the glossary from 114 countries (Figure 1, Table 1). This suggests that there is demand for accessible information on pharmacological concepts and that there is an opportunity for the CSPT to contribute to educating and providing resources to a global audience. Glossary term page visits are being monitored using Google Analytics and will be used to guide and prioritise the further development of terms, with increased effort going into those most visited and with the expansion of associated terms. Given that the glossary is run and developed by volunteers, monitoring page visits will ensure time and energy is going into expanding terms, associated terms, and concepts that are most searched. 

In summary, although in its infancy, the glossary is meant to be a platform for shared knowledge and experience in the field of pharmacology. Beyond having accurate and peer reviewed definitions, the intention is for the glossary to grow to include teaching resources and links to other relevant trusted resources such as the IUPHAR/BPS Guide to Pharmacology.  The glossary provides the CSPT with an opportunity to address misinformation and disinformation by ensuring accurate, evidence-based information is easily accessible to the public. The CSPT Education Committee welcomes feedback on the Canadian Glossary of Pharmacology from the global pharmacology community.

Expressions of interest in contributing to the Canadian Glossary of Pharmacology can be sent to Visit for more information. 

Figure 1. World map indicating countries from which users have accessed the Canadian Glossary of Pharmacology 

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Table 1.  

List of countries from which users have accessed the Canadian Glossary of Pharmacology (number of page visits) 

Afghanistan (1), Albania (1), Algeria (5), Argentina (1), Armenia (5), Australia (92), Austria (24), Bahamas (5), Bahrain (3), Bangladesh (74), Barbados (3), Belgium (10), Belize (2), Bhutan (1), Botswana (2), Brazil (26), Brunei (92), Bulgaria (3), Cambodia (2), Cameroon (6), Canada (2139), Chile (12), China (98), Columbia (6), Cote D’Ivoire (1), Croatia (4), Cuba (9), Cyprus (8), Czechia (7), Denmark (19), Dominican Republic (1), Ecuador (5), Egypt (55), Estonia (8), Eswatini (16), Ethiopia (28), Finland (30), France (57), Georgia (6), Germany (56), Ghana (25), Greece (6), Grenada (10), Guyana (1), Hungary (18), India (299), Indonesia (39), Iran (20), Iraq (39), Ireland (71), Israel (27), Italy (59), Jamaica (17), Japan (27), Jordan (56), Kazakhstan (4), Kenya (12), Kuwait (7), Kyrgyzstan (1), Lebanon (10), Lesotho (1), Liberia (1), Libya (5), Malawi (5), Malaysia (87), Malta (1), Mauritius (3), Mexico (38), Mongolia (1), Montenegro (1), Morocco (3), Myanmar (4), Namibia (11), Nepal (8), Netherlands (97), New Zealand (12), Nigeria (122), North Macedonia (3), Norway (6), Pakistan (63), Palestine (2), Peru (9), Philippines (114), Poland (38), Portugal (8), Puerto Rico (9), Qatar (3), Romania (4), Russia (8), Saudi Arabia (40), Serbia (10), Sierra Leone (26), Singapore (22), Slovenia (4), Somalia (4), South Africa (14), South Korea (61), Spain (21), Sri Lanka (13), St. Lucia (1), Sudan (36), Sweden (48), Switzerland (40), Syria (6), Taiwan (23), Tanzania (12), Thailand (26), Trinidad & Tobago (4), Tunisia (2), Turkey (41), Uganda (21), United Arab Emirates (6),United Kingdom (704), United States (1036), Vietnam (2), Yemen (4), and Zambia (8). 


Borges do Nascimento, I.J., Pizarro, A.B., Almeida, J.M., Azzopardi-Muscat, N., Gonçalves, M.A., Björklund, M., et al. (2022). Infodemics and health misinformation: a systematic review of reviews. Bull World Health Organ 100: 544–561. 

Quispe-Cañari, J.F., Fidel-Rosales, E., Manrique, D., Mascaró-Zan, J., Huamán-Castillón, K.M., Chamorro–Espinoza, S.E., et al. (2021). Self-medication practices during the COVID-19 pandemic among the adult population in Peru: A cross-sectional survey. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal 29: 1–11. 

Young, C. and Kosatsky T. (2022). From the horse’s mouth: Calls to the British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Centre about ivermectin exposures during the COVID-19 pandemic. British Columbia Medical Journal. 64: 30-37. 


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Published: 04 May 2023

About the author

Antonios Diab

Antonios Diab is a postdoctoral fellow with the Canadian Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and at the College of Pharmacy, Dalhousie University. Antonios has trained in neuroscience and pharmacology and has a passion for scientific communication, education, and outreach. His current research is focused on assessing the Canadian response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Antonios is also interested in pharmacologists’ role in drug- and public health policy and decision making. 

Brendan McKeown

Brendan McKeown is a PhD Candidate in Pharmacology at Dalhousie University. His research is focused on the investigation of natural products for the treatment of cancer. He also serves as a Graduate Student Intern with the Canadian Society for Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CSPT) where he has contributed as a writer and editor to The Canadian Glossary of Pharmacology.  

Fabiana Crowley

After obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Pharmacy and Laboratory Medicine, Dr. Crowley completed a Master's and Ph.D. in Biochemical & Molecular Pharmacology and a brief post-doc in neuroscience. Pursuing her passion for education, Dr. Crowley joined the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology at Western University in Canada, where she teaches several topics in pharmacology to medical and dental students. She is also passionate about curriculum development and educational research. 


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