Medical Pharmacology

The pharmacology course is designed to provide M-2 students with a relatively complete and current course in many aspects of pharmacology that are important to the undifferentiated physician.

The course is built around lectures, problem sets, and discussions. An important goal of the lectures is to provide a framework for drugs in current use as well as for drugs that may become available in the future.

We start the course with lectures on pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. These sessions are designed to provide understanding of the basic principles that underlie both current therapy and the advances that will be witnessed by all interested in pharmacology. Pharmacokinetics is the study of how drugs enter the body, are distributed, are metabolized, and eliminated, as well as the time course of drug action. Pharmacodynamics is concerned with the relationships between the concentration of drugs at their sites of action and the magnitude of effect that is achieved. A further aspect of pharmacodynamics is a consideration of the mechanism of drug action, the most basic aspect of pharmacology. We feel that a good understanding of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics allows a curious and thoughtful physician to build a rational framework for optimal and individualized use of drugs. In contrast, a "push-button" physician does not understand how a drug works and thus ignores an opportunity to individualize therapy for each patient.

Following these general considerations we go on to a description of drugs in common use. Some areas of pharmacology, such as cancer chemotherapy or antibiotics, are relatively self-contained and can be taught at any time in the course. With certain other topics we try to coordinate our lectures with teaching in the other disciplines of the M2 curricula.

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