Pharmacology & Toxicology

Pharmacology & Toxicology, School of Pharmacy  
Advisor: Call the School of Pharmacy’s Office of Student & Academic Affairs (SAA) to arrange for advising regarding the pharmacology-toxicology major (608)-262-6234. Advisors in the SAA work with prospective “PharmTox” students who are investigating and/or preparing to apply for admission to the PharmTox major.  Departmental Office: Amy Zwaska, M.S., 1212 Rennebohm Hall, 777 Highland Ave. (608-262-6234)

Field of Study
The Pharmacology-Toxicology undergraduate major at Wisconsin involves a high level, interdisciplinary, biomedical sciences curriculum. Prospective students are encouraged to examine the prerequisites to the major and the junior-senior four-semester PharmTox curriculum to get a sense for the breadth and depth of coursework.

Pharmacology and toxicology are sister biomedical sciences disciplines. Pharmacology is the study of the sites, properties, effects, and mechanisms of drug action–the interactions of chemicals with biological systems. Toxicology examines adverse effects of chemicals on humans and animals and includes exposure assessment, hazard identification, dose response assessment, and risk characterization. Both subjects integrate multiple scientific disciplines and both fields rely on cutting-edge biotechnological approaches to gain insight into drug and toxicant action at the molecular level.

Possible Careers
Academic-based Research Laboratories; Biomedical Industry; Biotechnology Industry; Chemical Industry; Clinical Research; Consumer Products Industry; Consulting/Risk Assessment; Contract Research Labs/Organizations; Education–secondary or higher; Environmental/Industrial Monitoring; Forensic Science; Healthcare Industry; Health Professions; Law, especially patent and health law; Manufacturing (Pharmaceutical/Biopharma); Medical Imaging; Nonprofit Research Organizations; Nutrition Industry; Pharmaceutical Research/Development; Pharmaceutical Sales/Marketing; Regulatory Agencies–federal and state; Research Centers–federal and state; Scientific Media and Communications; Specialized Areas of Toxicology (e.g. clinical; environmental; forensic; industrial; mechanistic; regulatory); Toxicology opportunities in the Agriculture Industry; Technical Sales/Marketing.

Special Opportunities & Additional Information

  • Peer (senior-to-junior) mentoring complements the small student-to-advisor ratio (~16:1) in the PharmTox program.
  • The course Pharmaceutical Sciences 558 (Laboratory Techniques in Pharmacology & Toxicology) is a first-semester laboratory course that allows all students new to the major to meet weekly in a setting reserved only for students in the major.
  • PharmTox students are required to complete at least 2 credits of research (independent study “699”) during their enrollment in the program; the program aids students in finding campus research opportunities.
  • A one credit seminar course (PharmSci 679) is required each year and brings together juniors and seniors in the program. The seminar mixes career presentations from outside professionals and alumni and research presentations from PharmTox seniors. A unique feature of the program’s required junior year curriculum is the opportunity to take physiology and pathology alongside students from a variety of health professions programs.
  • In the senior year, PharmTox students take professional and graduate-level courses in pharmacology and toxicology. One day in the fall is devoted to exposing students to some of the industries/companies that value PharmTox graduates.
  • Undergraduates enrolled in the major have the opportunity to attend regional meetings of the Society of Toxicology (SOT), the American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), and the Society of Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry (SETAC).
  • The School of Pharmacy has an active student chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), which offers undergraduate membership. Students in the major may compete for a School of Pharmacy undergraduate travel award to attend a national scientific meeting.

Selected Required Courses

  • Intro Biology: Biology/Zoology 151-152 OR Botany 130 and Zoology 101-102 OR Biocore 381-382-383-384
  • Calculus: Math 221 OR Math 171-217
  • General Chemistry: Chem 103-104 OR Chem 109 OR Chem 115
  • Organic Chemistry: Chem 343, 344, and 345
  • Physics: Physics 103 OR 201 OR 207
Recommended Course Sequence for Freshman Year

The course sequence for the freshman year depends on mathematics and English placement scores and is determined with the assistance of the pre-School of Pharmacy advisor prior to the start of the first semester.

Students must apply for admission to the major (admission is competitive)–the application deadline is February 1 each year for fall admission. Sixty prerequisite credits in the areas of biology, chemistry, math, physics, communication, and social science are required. See the School of Pharmacy’s Admissions page for more on the application process, selection criteria, admission statistics, FAQs, etc.