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Pharmacologists study the effects of drugs and chemical compounds on cells and biological systems. They investigate how drugs interact with animals, humans and the environment, assessing the potential benefits and risks of new drugs, and whether they can be used safely.
Pharmacologists mainly work in the research sectors of drug development, but also in the analysis and explanation of the effects of drugs and chemical compounds.
Working in laboratory experiments or clinical trials, and as part of a team of scientists, the typical tasks of a pharmacologist may include:
Drug development projects are usually expensive and can extend over a long period of time. Every new drug must go through certain important stages of testing. Clinical trials can go on for years before a drug is approved, and sometimes they are simply on-going. Certain projects may have a fixed-term contract, whilst others may be permanent, with the average drugs trial lasting for 10 to 15 years (Cancer Research UK).
Pharmacologists can be employed by private pharmaceutical companies, charities, research foundations or public sector organisations.