Pharmacology is the study of drugs and how they interact with our body.
The School of Medicine offers a dynamic research-intensive environment that fosters excellence in interdisciplinary research and nurtures the development of our students to reach their full potential.
The Science of Drugs - From Cells to Society
Pharmacology is the study of drugs and how they interact with our body. Drugs are chemicals that affect the functions of living systems. Drugs may be used to improve health and quality of life, as medicines to treat and prevent diseases or, as a research tool, to further explore body functions.
Pharmacology is both an experimental and clinical science that deals with all types of drugs - medicinal and recreational, legal and illegal, synthetic and naturally occurring, therapeutically beneficial medicines and potentially toxic substances. It is an interdisciplinary field that bridges Physiology, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Neuroscience, Mathematics, Statistics and Medicine.
- Neurogastroenterology & Neuroprotection Research Group
Contact: Dr Scott Smid
The Neurogastroenterology and Neuroprotection Research Group has a distinct research focus in two main areas: understanding the role of the neuroimmune system in gastrointestinal inflammatory states such as colitis and mucositis, and on the discovery and development of novel drugs used to prevent neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.Download the Medical Sciences Postgraduate Handbook for more information.
- Molecular Toxicology
Contact: Dr Ian Musgrave
Toxicology is the science of how chemicals and foreign substancescause unwanted, harmful effects in humans and animals. It is a diverse discipline, spanning the study of toxic substances made in nature (e.g. plant toxins), pharmaceutical agents (e.g. drug side effects), industrial chemicals, pollutants, and even substances made internally within the body (e.g. free radicals).
Molecular Toxicology concerns itself with studying the fundamental mechanisms whereby chemicals cause disease. It focuses on the interactions of chemicals (or their metabolites) with genes, proteins and cells.
Contact: Dr Mark Hutchinson
The Neuroimmunopharmacology Laboratory investigate how the immune cells in the brain, called glia, function & how they contribute to diseases such as chronic pain, drug addiction & epilepsy. The goal of our research is to discover new mechanisms of disease so we can make new drugs or treatments that can regain control of these immune cells to prevent diseases. Importantly, this research will lead to disease cures rather than just treatments.Download the Medical Sciences Postgraduate Handbook for more information.
- Clinical Pharmacogenomics
The Clinical Pharmacogenomics Group has been investigating the impact of genetics on clinical pharmacology & therapeutics since 1995. Our laboratories are located on Level 5 of Medical School North Wing. We are involved in research in a number of health fields: cancer, solid-organ transplantation, pain and symptom control, drug addiction, behavioural addictions, epilepsy and cardiology. The main focus is on determining genetic factors that can cause interindividual variability in drug response and drug toxicity and can be used to improve patients quality of life. We are also investigating the clinical translation of pharmacogenetics into general practice; development of guidelines and cost/benefit analyses.
- Neuropharmacology of Drug Abuse
Understanding how drugs of abuse interact with the cells in our body to cause their effects is fundamental to the development of strategies to deal with many of the social and health problems associated with these drugs. This requires understanding of the chemistry of the drugs, associated neuroscience and their neuropharmacology. We use a number of methods and techniques to pursue this understanding including in vivo radiotelemetry, microdialysis, chronoamperometry and HPLC. The drugs currently under investigation include: ecstasy and associated amphetamines, opioids, including heroin and methadone and anabolic steroids.
- Pain Research
Contact: Professor Paul Rolan
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage. It is now considered to be the 5th vital sign. Everybody experiences pain and the treatment of pain needs to be individualised because of variability in response. Effective pain management is particularly problematic in people who have been maintained chronically on opioids. This group includes people who are receiving maintenance opioid treatment for dependence problems and those who receive opioids for chronic pain treatment. Our research focuses on these groups using an integrated pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and pharmacogenetic approach. This research is funded by grants from NHMRC, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the pharmaceutical industry.
- Drug Metabolism, Transport & Pharmacokinetics Group
This Group has been investigating the individual factors that result in large inter-patient variability in clinical pharmacology & therapeutics since 1995. Our laboratories are located on Level 5 of Medical School North Wing. We are involved in research Identifying major metabolism enzymes and transporters involved in mediating absorption, distribution and elimination of pharmaceuticals in a number of health fields: cancer, solid-organ transplantation, pain, drug addiction, epilepsy and cardiology; with the main focus on determining if factors modulating clinical pharmacology can be used to improve patient therapy to improve treatment success while improving patient quality of life by reducing drug toxicity.
- Behavioural Neuroscience
Contact: Dr Femke Buisman-Pijlman
The Behavioural neuroscience lab focusses on understanding the effect of environment on behaviour. Why are some people more susceptible to drugs of abuse? Why do some have an increased risk to develop depression? What is the role of early life and trauma in these susceptibilities? We study how neuropeptides (like oxytocin), the stress-axis and immune system interact to affect behaviour. Different research methods are used in the inter-disciplinary field of research on the intersection between behaviour, psychology and physiology.