MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Would a career in pharmeceuticals involve more biology than chemistry?

Date: Sat May 19 16:07:09 2007
Posted By: Narayan Variankaval, , Process Chemistry, Merck Research Labs
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 1171329442.Me

Not at all. There are several areas within pharmaceuticals in which you can make a career. I am trained as a chemical engineer and as a polymer scientist and am happy working in solid-state chemistry in the pharmaceutical industry. You will get some exposure to biology in pharmacy but I wouldnt say a lot. It is always good to know something about the human body if you want to be successful in pharmaceuticals. But you can focus on chemistry and pharmacy principles if you so desire.

Before you choose a career path (yes, it starts right after high school) think about (i) what you absolutely love, (ii) what you can live with in small doses, and (iii) what your long term goal is.

Having said this here are a few things to keep in mind.

The core of the pharmaceutical industry is molecular biology. However the other areas within the pharmaceutical industry are - process chemistry (organic synthesis), chemical engineering, pharmaceutical R&D (primarily what you will learn in a pharmacy course) clinical research (toxicology etc), drug metabolism, analytical chemistry and many more. As you can see the industry is filled with people of many different backgrounds - what I mean to say is that pharmacy is not the only path to take to end up in the pharmaceutical industry.

You can also do the Pharm D course which will train you as a pharmacist which is very different of which I have little knowledge.

Hope this helps.

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