PHARM 3010 - Pharmacology: Drug Action and Discovery

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

The course will provide students with an understanding of how new drugs are discovered and developed. Students will also gain an understanding of drug-receptor interactions and the problems encountered during the identification and design of new chemicals with promising pharmacological actions. The practical component of this course will provide laboratory and experimental proficiency for students, ensuring they gain an appreciation for studying drug actions at different levels of biological organisation, ranging from simple in vitro systems (e.g. organ baths) to whole animals.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHARM 3010
    Course Pharmacology: Drug Action and Discovery
    Coordinating Unit Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 6
    Contact Weekly lectures, tutorials, practical sessions
    Prerequisites At least 6 units in either of Level II Biochemistry, Chemistry or Physiology courses or a minimum of 3 units in Level II Pharmacology or Level II Pathology
    Quota A quota will apply
    Course Description The course will provide students with an understanding of how new drugs are discovered and developed. Students will also gain an understanding of drug-receptor interactions and the problems encountered during the identification and design of new chemicals with promising pharmacological actions. The practical component of this course will provide laboratory and experimental proficiency for students, ensuring they gain an appreciation for studying drug actions at different levels of biological organisation, ranging from simple in vitro systems (e.g. organ baths) to whole animals.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Ian Musgrave

    Course Coordinator: Dr Ian Musgrave
    Phone: +61 8 8313 3905
    Location: Room S515, Medical School South

    Additional Academic Staff

    Dr Scott Smid
    Phone: +61 8 8313 5287
    Location: Room N531, Medical School North

    Dr Abdallah Salem
    Phone: +61 8 8313 4327
    Location: Room N506, Medical School North

    Dr Janet Coller
    Phone: +61 8 8313 3906
    Location: Room N515, Medical School North

    School Office
    Phone: +61 8 8313 5571
    Location: Room N131a, Medical School North
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Recognise the fundamental principles of drug actions at their target sites (eg. receptors, enzymes etc)
    2 Describe the different types of pharmacodynamic interactions of drugs with receptors and apply quantitative methods to analyse such interactions
    3 Explain the functioning of the autonomic nervous system at a pharmacological, anatomical and physiological level, with an integrated approach to its role in physiological homeostasis
    4 Compare the functional roles of selected central nervous system transmitters and be able to list clinically important drugs acting at these pharmacological systems
    5 Describe the processes and staging of drug discovery
    6 Choose a relevant experimental system to test experimental hypotheses (e.g. in vitro or in vivo; animal species etc)
    7 Design experiments which are properly controlled and which use appropriate statistical methods of data analysis
    8 Work co-operatively in a small group setting to conduct experiments, generate, analyse and interpret experimental data
    9 Consider ethical issues when designing experiments using humans or animals
    10 Consider the importance of method validation, and the recognition of experimental errors
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1-10
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1-10
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 1-10
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 8
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 1-10
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 6-9
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 8-10
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 5, 6, 8-10
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    Textbook: Rang H.P., Dale, M.M., Ritter, J.M and Flower, R.J. and Henderson, G. Pharmacology, 7th Ed., 2012. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-7020-3471-8.

    Recommended Resources

    Supplemental Textbooks:

    Joel G. Hardman, Lee E. Limbird, consulting editor Alfred Goodman Gilman. Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 11th Ed., New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

    Katzung B.G. Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, 10th Ed., New York: Prentice Hall, 2007.

    Julien, Robert M. Title: A Primer of Drug Action, 11th Ed. Worth Publishers.

    Online Learning
    All course materials will be provided online via MyUni, including lecture notes in either pdf or powerpoint format, relevant lab and tutorial handouts and other supporting materials as required. Audio recordings to lectures may be provided at the discretion of academic staff.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is comprised of a combination of didactic lectures, interactive tutorial sessions and prescribed laboratory group-based practical sessions. Tutorials are designed to support the major learning objectives set in the lecture content and require student interaction. Group-based laboratory practicals are designed to reinforce and extend on learning provided in the themed lecture content as well as providing an understanding and proficiency in research methods and experimental design, data analysis and write-up.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements. The total weekly workload for this course is 24 hours per week; as a guide it is comprised of the following activities:

    Lectures including preparation: 6 hours p.w.
    Tutorials including preparation: 6 hours p.w.
    Laboratory practicals including preparation and report writing: 10 hours p.w.
    Exam and test revision: 2 hours p.w.

    Learning Activities Summary
    Pharmacodyamics, 4 lectures – Dr Janet Coller Transmitter Systems & Drug Action, 3 lectures – Dr Scott Smid; 3 lectures – Dr Abdallah Salem
    Receptors & Signal Transduction – 6 lectures, Dr Ian Musgrave
    Drug Abuse and Addiction – 3 lectures- Dr Abdallah Salem; 3 lectures -Dr Janet Coller
    Drug Discovery (Preclinical) 6 lectures - Dr Scott Smid; 3 lectures- Dr Ian Musgrave

    Tutorial classes are based on the themed lecture content above and are usually set to follow the completion of lecture delivery within the prescribed theme. Additional tutorial content is delivered in the areas of drug calculations and dilutions and biostatistics, which are topics that reinforce aspects of teaching in the practical classes.

    Practical classes:

    Session 1- Analytical (quantitative) Methodology
    Session 2- Agonist/Antagonist activity in isolated tissues
    Session 3- Receptor tolerance
    Session 4- Adrenoceptors
    Session 5- Receptors & Signal Transduction
    Session 6- Drug actions In Vivo CNS I
    Session 7- Drug actions In Vivo CNS II

    Week Topic Lecturer
    Week 1 Pharmacodynamics Janet Coller
    Week 2 Pharmacodynamics Janet Coller
    Week 3 Transmitter systems and drug action Scott Smid
    Week 4 Transmitter systems and drug action Abdallah Salem
    Week 5 Receptors and Signal transduction Ian Musgrave
    Week 6 Receptors and Signal transduction Ian Musgrave
    Week 7 Drug Abuse and Addiction Abdallah Salem
    Week 8 Drug Abuse and Addiction Janet Coller
    Week 9 Chemotherapy Scott Smid
    Week 10 Drug Discovery Scott Smid, Ian Musgrave
    Week 11 Drug Discovery Ian Musgrave
    Week 12 Drugs Discovery Scott Smid
    Specific Course Requirements

    Laboratory Conduct

    1. PROTECTIVE CLOTHING (LABORATORY COATS and SAFETY GLASSES) MUST BE WORN IN THE LABORATORY. Thongs should not be worn, and bare feet are absolutely prohibited (danger from glass and spillage).
    2. Wash your hands before meals or on leaving the laboratory for any reason.
    3. All possible precautions should be taken when handling body fluid, to prevent spread of any type of infection. These are:
      1. prevent aerosol production (e.g. never mix the fluids with hot water)
      2. use disposable gloves;
      3. wash hands after handling biological samples;
    4. Avoid contaminating your hands, face or clothes, or the benches, chairs, stools, notebooks, floors, door-handles, switches, gas, water, pressure, vacuum or other taps, with animal excreta, toxins, chemicals or drugs. Other people have to handle things you may have touched. Don't suck pencils or anything similar in the laboratory.
    5. No food or drink should be consumed or brought into the laboratory.
    6. No smoking should take place in the laboratory.
    7. All solutions should be treated with care. Any material, dry or in solution, spilt on to the bench, the floor, or the hands should be cleaned up at once with disposable paper towels. Spills should be cleaned up immediately and hands washed after any inadvertent contact.
    8. No drug or syringe must leave the department for any reason.
    9. All sharps (hypodermic needles, scalpel blades) must be placed in the yellow sharps disposal bins placed around the laboratory.
    10. Solid waste should be placed in the appropriate bins, not in the sink.
    11. Students should pay particular attention to the care of animals. The ethical aspects of using animals and techniques for handling and injecting animals will be demonstrated.
    12. Any equipment failure or other faults should be reported to a demonstrator or to a technician.
    13. At the conclusion of the experiment, it is the student’s responsibility to tidy the work space and to ensure that tubes, tips etc are disposed of in the appropriate bins provided.

    No unauthorised persons are to visit students while working in the laboratory.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Final exam Summative 50% 1-8
    Assessment Test I (Lecture content) Summative 10% 1-8
    Assessment Test II (Practical content) Summative 10% 8-10
    Laboratory Practical Reports Summative 30% 8-10
    Assessment Related Requirements

    Important notes on Laboratory Practical Assessment

    In this course emphasis is placed on competence in laboratory practicals. Attendance is compulsory and a failure to attend a minimum number of practical sessions may impact on your ability to successfully complete the pharmacology course. If you miss more than two practical sessions for the semester you may be at risk of not completing the course requirements. Due to the nature of our lab practicals it is impossible to reschedule practical classes (i.e. you cannot make them up until the course is next run in the following year). If you have a minor study clash (eg. of not more than 1 hour) you should discuss this with the course coordinator in advance, as a reasonable alternative arrangement may be made where possible.

    If you miss a practical session e.g. from illness, you are required to present medical or compassionate certification. Such certificates need to be provided to The Course Coordinator directly within one week of the practical session date. Submission of a practical report without a valid certificate will result in a 0 mark accorded.

    Assessment Detail

    Final exam: summative; due at end of semester; 50% weighting.

    Assessment test I: summative; due week following mid-semester break.

    Assessment test II: summative; due from weeks 10-12.

    Laboratory Practical reports: formative & summative; due weekly from semester weeks 2-9; 30% weighting.

    Final Exam

    Marks attained during a 3 hour written paper held during exam week at the end of semester will test a student’s understanding of the knowledge of lecture and tutorial content in its entirety, as assessed using a combination of multiple choice, short answer and essay-style questions.

    Coursework and Practical Component:

    The remaining 50% of the final grade is assigned on the basis of performance during the practical course (based on laboratory reports) in addition to Assessment Tests I (all lecture material delivered prior to mid-semester break) and II (written test on theory and experimental design specifically related to laboratory practicals).

    Assessment Tests:

    There will be two Assessment Tests during Semester 1. They will be based on lecture and practical material, respectively. They will consist of multiple choice questions and short answer questions.

    Test I covers lecture and tutorial content only from week 1 to the mid-semester break. It is normally held either just prior to, or immediately following, the mid semester break. It provides a useful mid-way guide to your progress in understanding course material.

    Test II covers aspects of practical theory from the Practical Sessions. This is written test based on your comprehension of experimental design, analysis and interpretation of data specifically related to laboratory practicals. You do not need to memorise actual raw data from your lab sessions in this test.
    aw data from your lab sessions in this test.


    All written submissions (e.g. practical reports) must be accompanied by a signed School of Medical Sciences cover sheet. Proforma cover sheets will be available for download off MyUni. Mail boxes for written submission are located near The School of Medical Sciences Front Office, on level 1, Medical School North.

    The late submissions penalty is set by The School of Medical Sciences on all submittable items and is noted as follows:

    3rd Year Courses: 30% of total available points will be penalised per day (24 hour period or fraction thereof). An automatic zero mark will be applied after 3 days.

    If you miss an assessment test e.g. from illness, you are required to present medical or compassionate certification to be eligible to sit a supplementary test. Such certificates need to be provided to The Course Coordinator directly within one week of the test date. The date and time of the supp. test is then determined by the Course Coordinator and is not negotiable. Students will be informed of the supp. test date by email.

    Turn-around times for marking lab practical reports and marked assessment tests are normally 1-2 weeks from date of submission or sitting.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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