What Does A Pharmaceutical Scientist Do?
Pharmaceutical scientists are the professionals who are at the frontline of drug research, discovery and development. The development of new drugs and therapies to treat various diseases requires a multidisciplinary approach which makes pharmaceutical science such a broad field.
As such, pharmaceutical scientists can choose to specialize in a particular area of this field. The responsibilities they do will depend on which category they choose to focus in.
Pharmaceutical scientists can choose to work in the field of drug discovery and development and focus on how new molecules can be synthesized to form new drugs and medicines. They may also work in the field of drug delivery where their main concern would be on whether to design a particular drug in tablet, capsule or intravenous form, among others, so that it delivers just the right dose to achieve the desired effect when administered to the patient.
Other pharmaceutical scientists may choose to concentrate on doing research that would enable them to determine the drug’s effects on the body and how the body reacts to a particular drug. They answer questions on how fast the body metabolizes the drug and how long it stays in the human system.
Pharmaceutical scientists who are interested in the actual drug-making process may also look at how new science and technology can be used in improving the manufacturing of drugs, pharmaceutical ingredients and medical devices. Others, meanwhile, focus on ensuring that the drugs are safe and effective before they are released to the market.
Entry-level pharmaceutical scientists typically work as research assistants before ascending to positions of authority. Their time is spent mostly in the laboratory where they collect and record data of the experiments in progress. Their days are also spent writing technical reports of their research.
While being huddled in front of their microscopes, mixing formulations and closely scrutinizing data on computers comprise majority of the work of pharmaceutical scientists, they may also spend their time meeting with colleagues, executives and government personnel. In these discussions, they may talk about various topics such as the findings of their current research, funding and results of clinical trials.
An important part of the work of pharmaceutical scientists is testing the efficacy and safety of the drugs on animals and voluntary subjects before they are released to the market. These clinical trials can take many years and don’t always yield the desired results. This can be frustrating since failed results can mean years of funding wasted and going back once more to the drawing board.
For the dedicated pharmaceutical scientist who has made seeking a cure for a particular disease condition his life’s mission, the experience can even be devastating.
Pharmaceutical scientists with advanced postgraduate degrees who want to share their knowledge and expertise to a new generation of scientists can also hold teaching positions in the field in universities and colleges. As professors, they also undertake the same tasks that teachers do which include preparing lesson plans, meeting students regularly, evaluating them, computing grades and leading them to field trips that would enhance their learning in the pharmaceutical sciences field.