Pharmacology is more than the study of the mode of action of drugs. It is a science which uses the basic concepts of biology and chemistry to determine how drugs affect the organism; it gives a unique perspective in understanding how cells, organ systems, and organisms function. Unlike other basic science fields, pharmacology is a special field in which one can systematically investigate the mechanism for a biological event--from the molecular level to the whole animal. Pharmacology also allows us to study how biological systems fail to function, providing information on the etiology of disease. Pharmacologic research is essential for the development, testing and clinical use of drugs to treat disease.

The objective of pharmacology as an area of concentration for biology majors is to provide students with knowledge of the basic principles for the actions of drugs and toxic substances. In addition, it provides the opportunity to apply these principles in a research setting. Ultimately, an introduction of pharmacology to undergraduates will encourage interested students to consider graduate study in the field of pharmacology leading to a career in academic research or in the pharmaceutical industry.

Students fulfilling the requirements of the Concentration in Pharmacology will receive a note on their official transcript.

Area Advisor

Area Advisor Area Faculty

Dr. Jessica Sawyer, Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology

Gerry Blobe, Romain Cartoni, Chris Counter, Don Fox, Sarah Goetz, Michael Kastan, Jason Locasale, Kris Wood, Andrew Armstrong, Vadim Arshavsky, Jonathan Campbell, Ashley Chi, Scott Floyd, Timothy Haystead, Mark Herman, Matt Hirschey, Jiyong Hong, Sven-Eric Jordt, David Kirsch, Madan Kwatra, Cynthia Kuhn, Ed Levin, Daniel Lew, Chuan-Yuan Li, Corinne Linardic, David MacAlpine, Nancie, MacIver, Donald McDonnell, Francis Miller, Debora Muoio, Andrea Nackley, Steve Patierno, Edward Patz, Anne Marie Pendergast, Nimmi Ramanujam, Vasanth Rao, Jatin Roper, Dorothy Sipkins, Neil Spector, Nina Tsvetanova, Xiao Fang Wang, Richard Whorton, Laura Wingler, Hai Yan, Zhao Zhang



  • CHEM 101DL Core Concepts in Chemistry OR
  • CHEM 110DL Honors Chemistry: Core Concepts in Context OR
  • CHEM 21 General Chemistry Credit


  • CHEM 201DL Organic Chemistry

NOTE: CHEM 202L and CHEM 210DL are also recommended for pre-med, pre-vet, biochem and pharm students.


  • MATH 111L Laboratory Calculus I OR
  • MATH 121 Introductory Calculus I OR
  • MATH 21 Introductory Calculus I OR
  • BOTH MATH 105L/106L Laboratory Calculus and Functions I and II


  • MATH 112L Laboratory Calculus II OR
  • MATH 122L Introductory Calculus II OR
  • MATH 22 Introductory Calculus II OR
  • STA 102 Biostats OR STA 101 above OR
  • BIOLOGY 304 Biological Data Analysis (cannot also count as an elective)


  • PHYSICS 121L/141L General Physics I OR
  • PHYSICS 151L Introductory Mechanics OR
  • PHYSICS 161D Fundamentals of Physics I OR
  • PHYSICS 25 (AP credit)

NOTE: PHYSICS 122L/142L is also recommended for students interested in pre-med, pre-vet, biochem and pharm.

Biology Major Requirements (minimum 10 Courses)

The following courses are required for students pursuing both the B.S. and B.A. biology credentials.

Gateway Courses (2 or 1 courses)

The gateways are not sequenced and can be taken in either order.

  • BIOLOGY 201L Molecular Biology (prerequisite: Chem 101D or equivalent)
  • BIOLOGY 202L Genetics & Evolution


  • BIOLOGY 203L Molecular Biology, Genetics & Evolution (prerequisite: Biology AP 5 and Chem 101D or equivalent)

Biology Area Requirements (3 or 4 courses)

Courses listed in more than one area may only be used to meet one area requirement.

  • 1 course - Organismal Diversity (see course listings)
  • 1 course - Ecology (see course listings)
  • 1 or 2 courses - Biological Structure & Function area requirement & Pharmacology Physiology requirement:
    • BIOLOGY 329D  or 329L Principles of Animal Physiology to satisfy both the s/f requirement for Bio & the physiology requirement for Pharm (*see note below, under lab requirement)
    • Take EvAnth 330: Human Physiology and Anatomy or Cell Bio 451 to satisfy the physiology requirement for Pharm AND take any course from the Biological Structure & Function menu for Bio (*see note below, under lab requirement)

Required Pharmacology Concentration Electives (5 or 6 Courses)

  • 1 of the following:
    BIO 224 Fundamentals of Neuroscience (B)
    BCH/BIO 301 Introduction to Biochemistry
    BIO 420 Cancer Genetics
    BIO 422L(S) Experiments in Animal Models of Human Neurodegenerative Disease

    BIO 432S Biology of Host-Pathogen Interactions
    BIO 454S Physiological Genetics of Disease
    BIO 518S Natural Neurotoxins
  • PHARM 393 / 493 Research Independent Study with a concentration area faculty member or approval of the concentration area advisor
  • PHARM 394 / 494 Research Independent Study with a concentration area faculty member or approval of the concentration area advisor
  • PHARM 350 Pharmacology: Drug Actions and Reactions
  • PHARM 360 Drugs, Brain, and Behavior OR PHARM 370 Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine
  • If using Bio 203L, 1 course listed or cross-listed in Biology at the 200-level or above or 1 approved alternate elective course

Additional Courses of Interest (not required)

  • PHR 293/294   Research Independent Study in Science Education (Service Learning)
  • PHR 533  Essentials of Pharmacology & Toxicology (permission only)

Lab Experience Requirement

Students are required to take 2 full lab courses in addition to the gateway courses. For the Pharmacology Concentration, this requirement is fulfilled by taking PHARM 493 and BIOLOGY 329L.
*If not taking Bio 329L, be sure to complete a second approved lab class from among your other Biology major coursework. Only one Ind Study can count towards the lab requirement.

Capstone Course Requirement

You must take at least 1 full 400-level or higher biology 'Capstone' course or other approved capstone course. Independent study can count towards this requirement if it is a second semester continuation.