The changing profile of experimental pharmacology. Are we developing the right proficiencies for future pharmacologists?
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This paper reviews the research themes and techniques that were published in the British Journal of Pharmacology from 1979 to 2009. From its earliest beginnings pharmacology has relied on empirical data collected through experimentation. This review illustrates the changes during the last 30 years that has taken place in the methods employed in pharmacological research and how this impacts on current teaching practice. The review examined papers published in the September edition of the British Journal of Pharmacology from 1979 to 2009. For the ease of data collection a review took place for every fifth year to determine the various type of pharmacological research, as well as the experimental design used. Furthermore, to establish current student perceptions, students from an undergraduate pharmacology course were surveyed to determine their attitudes towards experimental classes with respect to learning pharmacology and the development of their laboratory skills. Isolated tissue/organ bath methods and associated data analysis are the mainstay of pharmacological studies published in the British Journal of Pharmacology over the past 30 years. More recently there has been a significant rise in the use of techniques in molecular biology and protein chemistry. Surveyed pharmacology students in undergraduate medical science degree programs indicated that they found practical classes effective in helping them understand key concepts in each of the subject areas and also in the development of their laboratory skills. The basic concepts of measuring drug action and potency have not changed over time; however some of the techniques to achieve these outcomes continue to evolve. The teaching of experimental pharmacological techniques should be dependent on the need to develop student understanding as well as keeping up to date in the technological changes that are occurring in society.
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Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy