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Question & Answers: Pharmacokinetics studies

Question

My daughter is following GCSE curriculum (science) and will be sitting for her O/L exam in May 2013. She is interested in pursuing higher studies in Pharmacokinetics. I tried searching in the Internet but I am confused, as there are many sub courses stated.

Please let me know,

1) What is exactly Pharmacokinetics studies?

2) What are degrees offered under Pharmacokinetics?

3) Career prospects of this field

4) She intent to study in Australia, please recommend suitable universities in Sydney.

5) Also please let me know whether any additional skills required to pursue this study and whether she can apply after completing A/S level.

Answer

Pharmacokinetics is normally available as a specialization within a pharmacology program rather than a standalone course. It is, by definition, the branch of pharmacology related to the movement of drugs within the body. Essentially, this involves the study of processes by which drugs are absorbed, distributed, metabolized and eliminated by the body.

Both Australia and the UK are highly regarded destinations for a course in pharmacology with specialization in pharmacokinetics. Courses usually include practical work experience through placements in hospitals, community pharmacies or industrial settings.

Pharmacology courses in UK are available at University of Nottingham, East Anglia, Bath, Cardiff and Manchester. The UK is considered the world leader in pharmaceuticals. Following your undergraduate, you will need to pursue a postgraduate program that concentrates on pharmacokinetics. Liverpool John Moores university in the UK has a 1 year postgraduate course in pharmacokinetics.

In Australia, University of New South Wales offers an interesting dual degree program which combines a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of science(Pharmacology) thus opening up a wide spectrum of opportunities in both fields. University of Wollongong offers a 3- year Bachelor of Science in Medicinal Chemistry which involves training in pharmacology with study of drug discovery and design. At University of New Castle, you can pursue a Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree at the School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy which is known to be research intensive. Finally at University of Western Sydney, you can pursue a Bachelor of Medical science with concentration in Nanotechnology that offers a good foundation in the basic sciences which you can then build on for a career in Pharmacology.

Other Universities in Australia which could be explored are Monash, University of South Australia and University of Western Australia.

A background in Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics is recommended . You would also need an overall score of 6.5 on the IELTS and 90 on the TOEFL iBT.

With a degree in this field, you could pursue a range of options including research, working in a pharmaceutical industry, healthcare and education. It is also a great opportunity to be at the forefront of new discoveries in this field. With rapid advances taking place in medical research there is a growing demand for qualified and trained scientists. As this subject is related to medicine, dentistry, nursing and veterinary medicine, it also presents plenty of opportunities to diversify. Some of the roles in this field are: Pharmacologist, research scientist, analytical chemist, toxicologist, immunologist, forensic scientist, biomedical scientist and medical sales representative.

Many students also pursue a PhD allowing them to carry out research in new emerging fields such as genetics, bioinformatics, neuroscience etc. A combined masters and PhD degree is an excellent option to maximize your career potential.

To enhance your prospects in this field, some of the personal skills you will need are the ability to handle complex data, problem-solving and decision-making skills, ability to work without supervision and good communication skills. Don’t underestimate the importance of hands-on experience which you can get by assisting professors or working as a laboratory assistant part-time or during the summer. Contact universities you are interested in and research their program offerings on their websites, so that you have all the information you require to plan your academic path in this field.

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