Course Descriptions

The Spring 2023 Pharmaceutical Sciences course schedule is now available.  A list of courses, times, and details for our special topics courses can be found here.  Descriptions of all Pharmaceutical Sciences undergraduate courses can be found below.

 

PCOL 196D - The Joy of Drugs: Introduction to Pharmaceutical Sciences Seminar - 1 unit

This seminar will offer students who may be unfamiliar with the breadth and reach of pharmaceutical sciences as a discipline a timely and entertaining overview of this field. Topics will include an introduction to drug discovery and development, drug pricing and advertising, drug dosage forms and delivery vehicles, the science of drug efficacy and toxicity, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, a review of common drug classes (mechanism of action, indication, side effects), and the most problematic human diseases for which we have no cures (and why!). The series will conclude with hilarious stories about impromptu drug re-purposing when crazy side effects emerged. Taught using plain language and current cultural references, this course proves that you don't have to be a scientist to understand science.

  • Optional elective course

 

PCOL 200 - Drugs and Humanity - 3 units

Drugs shape society. Drugs can prevent and cure mortal diseases and have dramatically increased human lifespan, thereby forever changing the fabric of society and civilization. Drugs have evolved alongside human inquiry and have informed many areas medicine, science, art, justice, and policy. The consequences of drug use or pharmacotherapy, intended and unintended, may alleviate pain and ward off death, while at the same time contribute to pain and death. Such are the complexities of small molecules ingested often in vanishingly small amounts. While the effects may appear magical, they are rooted in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

This course uses examples of drugs that shaped humanity to examine the underlying biologic mechanisms and pharmacologic principles that underlie the drug’s desired and undesired physiologic/psychologic effects. We will attempt to put these drugs in the historical context in which they emerged, how societal modernization provided the foundation for organized, reasoned drug development and the establishment of the pharmaceutical industry. As the course draws to a close, we will examine the likely pharmacologic agents and approaches that will impact society in the near future. No prerequisites. 

  • Optional elective course

 

PCOL 300 - Pharmacology of Cosmetics and Self-Care Products - 3 units

Students will expand their knowledge of pharmaceutics, pharmacology, and toxicology and apply this information to an array of substances that they encounter or deliberately use daily. Students will also learn the regulatory aspects of cosmetic creation, advertising, and sale; the chemistry behind ingredient selection for each category of product; and the efficacy that can to be expected due to the pharmacological and toxicological characteristics of these formulations. At the end of the course, students will be better-informed consumers, better equipped to select and purchase beauty and self-care products that deliver meaningful results, avoiding products of limited efficacy or which may be unsafe.

  • Optional elective course
  • Prerequisites: CHEM 152

 

PCOL 305 - Scientific Writing: From Manuscripts to Proposals - 3 units

In this three-credit course required for the BSPS program, students will learn to read and interpret basic and clinical science papers and to write scientific manuscripts and research proposals. Emphasis will be placed on conveying the significance of research, outlining aims, and discussing results for scientific papers and grant proposals. Students will learn the traditional sections of a scientific paper, how methods are used and presented, how results are communicated, and what a discussion does and does not contains. Best practices for figures and tables (data presentation) will be described and students will be shown how to craft an abstract from a work of literature. Next, students will learn what a research proposal contains (modeled after the R01) and how they are constructed. Students will also learn about peer-review and participate in drug information retrieval.

  • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
  • Prerequisites: ENGL 102 or 109H
     

PCOL 310 - Drug Approval: The 3 Billion Dollar Bet - 2 units

Almost 60 billion dollars (2016) are spent annually on pharmaceutical research and development in the United States and almost 425 billion dollars (2015) are spent annually in drug purchasing. Drugs are key economic and therapeutic factors in the healthcare arena; yet, among patients and consumers the pharmaceutical industry lacks public trust and the process of drug approval is often shrouded in mystery. In this course we’ll address the decisions drug manufacturers consider, including time, cost, risk and value in bringing as new drug product to market. We will explore how a new drug product is developed from concept to bedside.

  • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
  • Prerequisites: ENGL 102 or 109H

 

PCOL 320 - What's Your Poison? Toxicology of the Substances that Surround Us - 3 units

This course covers the toxicology of plants, fish, insects and reptiles, foods, drugs of abuse, and other common poisonous substances in addition to information about carcinogens, teratogens, and risk assessment.  Students will learn about snake, spider, and scorpion venoms; marine toxins produced by exotic underwater creatures; and common food poisonings. We will cover non-food plant toxicities, drugs of abuse, approaches to risk assessment, compounds that cause cancer and birth defects, and more.

  • Optional elective course
  • Prerequisites: CHEM 151 and MCB 181R

 

PCOL 325 - Controversies in Healthcare Practice - 3 units

This course will allow students to explore the most controversial and timely topics in healthcare that are based in medicine and healthcare. We will cover specific drugs for lethal injection, euthanasia, pregnancy termination as well as human physical and cognitive enhancement. We will also focus on inconsistencies in drug applications such as social medication, disease mongering, and compassionate use of drugs for the terminally ill. In each session, we will cover the laws or policies involved, where they have been and where they are heading. Drug pricing, advertising, and black-market purchases will be described and we will end the session with unlawfully obtained patient data and transgender healthcare concerns. Topics are diverse and challenging, allowing students to see behind the curtain of medicine to visualize many of the struggles our providers face daily. Students will broaden their understanding of pharmacology (drug name, purpose, mechanism of action, and potential toxicity), current events, ethics, persuasive argument, and philosophical approaches to decisions about medicine and healthcare.

  • Optional elective course
  • Prerequisites: none

 

PCOL 350 - ADME How the Body Changes Drugs - 3 units

ADME, an acronym for absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, is often the determining factor in whether drugs generate the desired effect, or no effect, or a harmful effect. PCOL 350 provides students with a rounded education in the ways that the body changes the chemical form of drugs, as well as the ways that the body directs the movement of drugs over time, from administration through excretion.

  • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
  • Prerequisites: PSIO 380 or PSIO 202, CHEM 241B, and Pharmaceutical Sciences Advanced Standing. 
     

PCOL 355 - Drug Delivery Systems - 3 units

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with a basis of understanding of pharmaceutical dosage forms. An overview of traditional and novel dosage forms will be presented along with a discussion on scientific and regulatory requirements necessary to get a drug product approved. The course will emphasize the relationship between Physical Pharmacy (chemistry and physical science) and the pharmaceutical dosage form. Critical thinking and problem solving will be applied to the above principals.

  • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
  • Prerequisites: CHEM 241B and CHEM 243B

 

    PCOL 390 - Biomarkers: Analysis of Drug Effect and Toxicity - 3 units

    A biomarker is a defined characteristic that is measured as an indicator of normal biological processes, pathogenic processes, or responses to an exposure or intervention, including therapeutic interventions. These indicators may be molecular, histologic, radiographic, or physiologic characteristics. Biomarkers can be used in a variety of settings including basic, translational, and clinical research and in clinical practice settings. This course will provide an introduction to the exploration, validation, and application of biomarkers during the drug development process and in predicting and monitoring drug efficacy and safety during patient care. Key concepts in bioanalytical technologies used in biomarker measurements will also be introduced. The pathways for regulatory biomarker interpretation and acceptance will also be discussed.

    • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
    • Prerequisite: PCOL 406, CHEM 241A, and PSIO 202 or PSIO 380, and pharamceutical sciences Advanced Standing or minor admission
       

    PCOL 395B - The History of Pharmacy - 1 unit

    Pharmacy is a time-honored profession, dating back to the dawn of civilization. This course will explore pharmacy's rich history, and will further students' understanding of the role that pharmacists, apothecaries, and medicinal healers have played over the centuries.

    • Optional elective course
    • Prerequisites: none

     

    PCOL 395C - Professional Pharmacy Pathways - 1 unit

    During this course, students will be exposed to different professional paths and opportunities that are available with a Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. Students will have the opportunity to learn from various professionals working in a multitude of different settings, including ambulatory care, community pharmacy, industry, public health, and more. Students will interact with these professionals during structured question and answer sessions. This colloquium will allow students to learn about relevant and current topics in pharmacology, pharmaceutical sciences, and pharmacy practice.

    • Optional elective course
    • Prerequisites: none

     

    PCOL 405: Current Techniques in Pharmaceutical Sciences - 3 units

    This co-convened team-taught course is offered by the faculty of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and other invited speakers. This course will cover essential laboratory techniques that are used in the fields of medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, and pharmaceutics. The objective of this course is to provide students with practical knowledge and hands-on experience with some of the most common experimental methods used in the field of Drug Discovery and Development, Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Pharmaceutics. Laboratory techniques covered in this course include biochemical and molecular biological methods or procedures that are used to study living cells, analytical methods or procedures that are used in pharmacology, toxicology, and pharmaceutics, and preclinical in vitro and in vivo experimental models of drug metabolism and disposition in drug discovery and development  

    • Optional elective course
    • Prerequisites: CHEM 241B AND BIOC 384 or 385 AND MIC 205A

     

    PCOL 406: Comprehensive Human Pharmacology - 5 units

    (Formerlly numbered PCOL 360)  Pharmacology is the study of how drugs change human physiology to prevent disease and to reduce/remove the impact of diseases. This course will present the basic principles of pharmacology, as well as instruction in the diverse mechanisms-of-action, and pharmacological effects (both desired and undesired!) of the major classes of drugs currently used to treat and prevent human diseases. This will be a lecture-based course with discussion facilitated through the use of Poll Everywhere.  

    • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
    • Prerequisites: PSIO 380 prerequisite or PSIO 202 co-requisite, and CHEM 241A
       

    PCOL 410 - Medicinal Chemistry - 5 units

    PCOL 410 will deliver content in the application of the foundation sciences to drug design. At an appropriate level of content targeting, students will draw on prior math, physics, and chemistry courses in the study of how drugs are conceptualized, designed, and developed. Content will build from basic concepts (structural factors associated with drug activity, drug solubility, pharmacophores) to a consideration of relevant biological drug targets, as well as basic content in structural biology analytical approaches. 

    • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
    • Prerequisites: CHEM 241B and CHEM 243B. BIOC 384 or 385 recommended.

     

    PCOL 418 - Medicinal Chemistry of Natural Products - 3 units

    This course will focus on the medical applications of natural products and drug discovery based on natural products. Detailed information is given for biologically important natural products and drugs of natural origin, including sources, principal components, structural component analysis, drug use, mechanism of action, and current status use.

    • Optional elective course
    • Prerequisites: CHEM 241B, MCB 181R, and PSIO 202 or 380.

     

    PCOL 434 - Pharmacology of Sex - 3 units

    This course will instruct students about pharmacological agents used to prevent and maintain pregnancy, assist with human birth, increase libido and function, and help with gender transformation or transition. We will explore how clinical trials are designed to assess how drugs interact with human sexual function and how we create criteria for safety, efficacy, and risk. Finally, we will cover the underlying mechanisms by which commonly prescribed drugs interfere with human sexual function and desire, and we will explore chemsex, which can have lethal consequences.

    • Optional elective course
    • Prerequisites: CHEM 241A and PSIO 202 or 380.

     

    PCOL 440 - Rigor and Reproducibility: Bridging Academic and Pharma - 2 units

    This course will introduce students to a timely issue of intense focus, both at the level of funding agencies, as well as at the level of academic-pharma/biotech partnerships in drug commercialization. In both of these environments serious concerns have been raised regarding the level of rigor and reproducibility in academic science. This course will expose students to the spectrum of rigor and reproducibility, and engage students in discussions that aim to link the particular rigor applied to an experiment with the demands that exist for the data; for example, contrasting the demands of a pilot experiment to initially test an idea vs. the measurement of the response to a new drug that will be used as data to seek investment from a pharmaceutical company. Students will be challenged to develop plans for assays that include clearly described validation schemes.

    • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
    • Prerequisites: MCB 181R+L .

     

    PCOL 445 - Over-the-Counter Drug Information - 3 units

    In one semester, learn everything about the most important drug laws that allow us to have safe and efficacious drugs without a prescription. We will cover OTC, BTC, and Rx drugs; dosage forms and bioequivalence; analgesics, gastrointestinal drugs; antiallergy products, drugs for the lips and skin and mucous membranes; cough and cold remedies, hair drugs, smoking cessation compounds, and sleep medications. For each category, students will learn mechanisms of action, uses, and potential side effects.

    • Optional elective course
    • Prerequisites: CHEM 152 and PSIO 202 or 380.

     

    PCOL 465 - Infectious Disease Pharmacology - 3 units

    The treatment of infectious disease puts us at the crossroads of many avenues of understanding: history and principles of scientific knowledge, biology, chemistry, physiology, genetics, evolution, epidemiology, and more. Within this framework, we will learn about the drugs and therapies used to treat and prevent infection, how and why they work, and how microbes combat their effectiveness. We will learn how these drugs are absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted by both humans and microbes. Additionally, we will discuss how and why one treatment is chosen over another, side effects, contraindications, and other concerns with the use of these drugs. The overall goal of the course is to provide the student with a broad understanding of the context, mechanisms, and pharmacologic principles in which the drugs used to treat infectious disease operate

    • Optional elective course
    • Prerequisites: MCB 181R and CHEM 241A

     

    PCOL 467 - Pharmacology of Anti-Cancer Drugs - 3 units

    The use of chemotherapeutic agents and modern biologics to target and kill cancer cells is a major part of the strategy to treat cancer. The overall goal of the course is to provide the student with a broad understanding of the context, mechanisms, and pharmacologic principles of the use of anticancer drugs. The course provides an understanding of cancer from the systems, cellular, and molecular levels with a focus on the action of modern and historical anticancer drugs. Within this framework we will learn how and why anticancer therapeutics work and how cancers resist them. Additional topics will include the pharmacological details that affect efficacy, choice of treatment, side effects, and contraindications as well as the advances resulting from the genomics revolution that led to molecular targeting and immunotherapy. Prerequisites: MCB 181R and CHEM 241A Approved for use in the PharmSci minor, elective credit for other students.

    • Optional elective course
    • Prerequisites: MCB 181R and CHEM 241A

     

    PCOL 473 - Pharmacogenomics: Predicting a Patient's Future - 3 units

    One of the most exciting areas of the pharmaceutical sciences is “Precision Medicine”. Faced with 8-10 different anti-hypertension drugs, intuition and generic recommendations currently guide the choice of which drug to start with. Often this leads to frustrating and dangerous rounds of waiting to see if the drug works safely, and if not, trying the next drug in line. PCOL 473 will introduce the student to the field of pharmacogenomics, which involves a priori measuring the subtle differences in the biological blueprint and its expression in different individuals, and from that drawing conclusions about the likelihood of that individual having a beneficial drug effect, no effect, or a toxic effect. The course will discuss this in the context of new drug development, where avoiding such points of individual response variability may be the most efficient strategy.

    • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
    • Prerequisites: PCOL 406 and PCOL 350.
       

    PCOL 488 - Drug Hunting for Beginners - 3 units

    This course will integrate and consolidate the basic concepts of chemistry and pharmacology that underlie drug discovery, design, and development. For selected drug classes, the course will lead students into a deeper understanding of pharmacodynamics beyond pharmacophore and target. Students will learn hands-on computational approaches that emphasize the 3-dimensional nature of drugs and their interaction with proteins to both explore and predict these interactions. In a team science setting, students will design small molecules to engage a protein target and conceptualize the synthesis and testing of these molecules along the drug discovery pipeline, including the consideration of screening approaches and ADMET hurdles. The course will use in-class work and team-based assignments, concluding in team presentations of drug discovery project pitches. Prerequisite: PCOL 410. Required major course. Replaces previous PHCL 460 in the major curriculum

    • Required Pharmaceutical Sciences major course
    • Prerequisites: PCOL 410