Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Introduction to Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology

UM LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DEPARTMENT Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will introduce students to general principles in molecular and clinical pharmacology, pharmacogenetics and pharmacokinetics. It will also discuss the mechanisms, modes of actions and pharmacology of some common drugs including analgesics and drugs used in the gastrointestinal tract.

Study-unit Aims:

- To provide a sound understanding of the molecular principles underlying the therapeutic action of drugs.
- To give students a general introduction to pharmacokinetics (the determinants of the time course of a drug in the body), and to enable students to apply pharmacokinetic principles in order to provide rational drug therapy.
- To introduce clinical pharmacology concepts using analgesics and drugs used in the gastrointestinal tract as models.
- To introduce pharmacogenetic concepts, and their role in personalized drug prescribing.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Integrate various concepts of molecular pharmacology and apply them to functional aspects of drug action. Such concepts include receptor pharmacology, dose-response relationships, pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics.
- Apply the principles of drug liberation, absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination (LADME) to drug pharmacokinetics.
- Use compartmental pharmacokinetic models and interpret plasma concentration time curves.
- Appreciate the mechanisms underlying drug-drug and drug-food interactions, drug allergies and general adverse drug reactions.
- Apply pharmacoeconomic principles to drug management approaches.
- Recognise pharmacological issues that need to be considered when administering drugs to patients at the extremes of life.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Integrate the basic molecular mechanisms of drug action with concepts of drug efficacy and toxicity, within the context of applied pharmacology.
- Apply the basic principles of pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenetics to drug selection and dosing.
- Evaluate therapeutic and toxicological responses to analgesics and to drugs used in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Identify drug-drug interactions, adverse drug reactions and drug allergies.
- Adopt a correct understanding of the pharmacology and selection of drugs in individual patients.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Ritter JM, Flower R, Henderson G, Rang HP. Rang & Dale's Pharmacology. 2015. 8th Ed. Churchill Livingstone.
- Rowland M, Tozer TM.Clinical Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics: Concepts and Applications. 2010. 4th Revised Ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Wecker L. Brody's Human Pharmacology: Mechanism-Based Therapeutics. 2018. 6th Ed. Elsevier.

Supplementary Readings:

- Knollmann B, Brunton L, Hilal-Dandan R. Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. 2017. 13th Ed. McGraw-Hill.
- Waller DG, Sampson T. Medical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2013. 4th Ed. Saunders Ltd.

Lecture Notes:

- McKay GA, Reid JL, Walters MR. Lecture Notes: Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2011. 8th Ed. Wiley-Blackwell.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Roger Ellul Micallef
Godwin Mario Grech
Janet Mifsud (Co-ord.)
Vanessa Petroni
Nathan Vella
Eliezer Zahra
Mark Zammit


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.