All teaching is provided in the Department of Pharmacology on Tennis Court Road. The course follows the familiar pattern: three lectures per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11:00 a.m. complemented by a sequence of practicals, seminars, demonstrations, and mini-projects.
The practical course forms an integral part of the teaching. It consists of Seminars, Demonstrations, Practicals and Mini-projects. Practicals are intended to teach basic pharmacology in a less formal manner than required in lectures, and they provide an introduction to the experimental basis of the subject. In the Michaelmas Term, a series of six practicals complement the lectures by providing practical experience of both traditional pharmacological techniques, still very much in use in drug discovery, and some of the most advanced techniques now available. In the Lent Term, five of the conventional practicals are replaced by a mini-project spanning five sessions. In these you have the opportunity to develop sufficient expertise to be able to accumulate useful data. While you are given explicit instructions to get you started, it is up to you to develop and refine the procedures to obtain the best data possible. The mini projects form an important part of the examination paper as described later in the section on the exam, students are required to submit their notebook and a scientific poster to the senior examiner around early March. Advice on the preparation of the poster is given in the Lent Term. The Easter Term will complement the course with two more standard practical classes.
Interspersed with the Practical Classes are Seminars, which are held at 2 pm. A number of the seminars are used for revision of background material studied in Part Ia and so are especially useful for students who have not studied Physiology in the first year.
Pharmacology deals with the effects of chemical substances on biological material and thus has roots in both the physical and biological sciences. The aims of the NST IB Pharmacology Course are:
- To emphasise the basic mechanisms of drug action in relation both to drug-receptor interactions and to the operation of physiological and biochemical systems
- To consider molecular aspects of drug action in some detail, so as to harness our understanding of how drugs work for developing successful drugs in the future
At the end of the course students should be able to:
- Explain the principles of ligand-receptor interaction, local and intracellular messengers and integration of signalling pathways
- Identify the major classes of drug receptors and sites of drug action within the body
- Identify typical examples of drugs which are used to restore physiological functions in the cardiovascular, renal, respiratory, digestive, peripheral nervous and central nervous systems
- Demonstrate an understanding of the use of drugs to control inflammation and immune responses or to kill bacteria, viruses or malignant cells
- Apply the basic principles that govern the absorption, distribution and elimination of drugs to predict the time course of drug concentrations in the body and consider the implications of these principles for the therapeutic use of drugs
- Recognize the fundamental methods used in pharmacological research and be able to use basic pieces of research equipment.
The lectures shown below are those for 2013-2014. Next year's lectures will be broadly similar, with a few deletions and additions, and the list will be updated when details are available from the lecturers.
- Introduction. Structure and Function of Receptors. Diabetes Mellitus. (8 lectures)
- Intracellular Messengers (4 lectures)
- Synaptic Pharmacology (4 lectures)
- Inflammation, Pain & Immunopharmacology (8 lectures)
- Pharmacokinetics, Drug Metabolism and General Anaesthetics (5 lectures)
- Central Nervous System (7 lectures)
- Cardiovascular and Renal Pharmacology (11 lectures)
- Antimicrobial, Antiviral & Anticancer Drugs (9 lectures)
- Drug Discovery (2 lectures)
Candidates are reminded that the entire course is examinable. Refer to the NST IB Handbook 2013-14 for details.