MEDSCI204

PHARMACOLOGY AND TOXICOLOGY

Course Breakdown

 

•Quizzes and Assignments 45%

•Mid-semester test 15%

•Final Exam 40%    

 

To pass this course you must:

-Achieve a minimum of 50% overall

-Attend all workshops (due to covid regulation 4 out of 5 workshops should be attended)

Course Information

 

Recommended textbook: Rang and Dale’s Pharmacology, 9th Edition. Available 

online via Canvas Reading List.

Good for this course and also the recommended textbook for several Stage 3 Pharmacology courses

No need to buy this textbook, online access is free



Official UoA Website: 

Basic Information

Lectures are provided 3 hrs a week, where the recordings are usually released within the 24 hrs except in events of technical difficulties. Lecture notes will generally be available prior to the lecture, so I advise to briefly go over it to get an idea about the lecture. There are 5 module workshops that correlate to the lecture content with one workshop every 2 weeks. There are also weekly lecture quizzes that’s worth 4% , where it tests you on the content taught throughout the week. This was introduced to motivate students to keep up with the lectures in an online environment, where some might decide to watch the recording later. 

The lectures are grouped into 3 blocks 

Lecture Block 1= Foundation of Pharmacology & Toxicology

Lecture Block 2 = Applied Pharmacology 

Lecture Block 3 = Translational Pharmacology 

It is generally essential to get a good grip on the foundation lectures as the content are built up and integrated into the next lecture blocks. So, without understanding the foundation you would find it difficult to keep up. 

The MST was taken right after the mid-semester break and consisted of 3 SAQ covering all lecture and workshop content prior. We were given 2 lecture slots off just before the break to allow you extra time to prepare for the mid-semester test and do some self-directed study. It is important to make use of the time during the mid-semester break as it is when assignment 2 (worth 20%) is also assigned to be completed during the break. 

Overall, I would say the workload is 50-50. If you understand the lecture content you would generally find it quite easy to catch up. However, since the test and exams are taken online, the questions generally want you to apply the content taught in lectures rather than stating them. E.g., they would give an example of a drug and we have to analyze the data given and discuss their characteristic e.g., antagonist and why, rather than asking us what an antagonist is. Personally, the lecture content was quite interesting where most of the lecture notes provided were easy to understand prior to the lecture. 

EXPECTATION: 10H STUDY PER WEEK PER COURSE! As suggested by course coordinators.

Workshop/ Laboratory Component

Workshops support lecture content to allow tutors to help and apply principles learnt in lectures to real life examples. 

Workshops starts with modules 1 in week 3 and 4 (depending on your stream), with one workshop every 2 weeks. You are expected to attend all five workshops, where the workshops directly lead into assessments, and missing a workshop will disadvantage you and reduce your marks. In order to pass the course, you must attend 4 out of 5 workshops where absence flexibility with unavoidable circumstances can be provided due to Covid regulations. But it does not mean you can choose to miss one workshop. Before every workshop there are pre-workshops tasks you must complete as the tasks will be discussed in the workshops. There is also a postworkshop quiz after every workshop that is worth 1% of your course mark. 

Module 1- Data and Literature analysis 

The main objective of this workshop is to learn where data comes from, are we able to extract information from a scientific journal article and interpret the scientific data. We are also required to apply pharmacodynamic principles to a real-life drug example. After this workshop Assignment 1 (worth 5%) were assigned to be completed individually and due at 11:59 in 1 week. Postworkshop quiz was also to be completed. The content of the assignment is related to what is explained within the workshop so it is important to actively participate in workshops. 

Module 2- Data and Literature Analysis 2

This workshop focuses on “How are data used to come to a conclusion about scientific questions?”. Where we use scientific rationale to come to an evidence-based decision regarding the use of cannabidiol as a treatment for refractory epilepsy. This workshop was presented virtually so we were given data with questions to complete in breakout rooms and would discuss with tutors after. Assignment 2 were assigned and a postworkshop quiz was recommended to complete prior to beginning the assignment. This assignment is worth 20% so before starting, it’s a good idea to outline your ideas and evidence to help structure the essay logically. 

Module 3- Basic Lab Skills

During this time of the workshop the UOA Vice-Chancellor has made the decision to remain the rest of semester 2 to be online teaching, meaning that the planned practical laboratory sessions were replaced with a new online module for workshop 3. A pre-workshop preparation was to be completed before the zoom session (task + pre-workshop quiz). The concepts in the task will form the basis of the workshop discussion, where the level of preparation will impact the engagement during the workshop. This workshop focuses on Standard curve validation and application. 

Assignment 3 has changed to reflect the move to online learning so the marks for the assessment are allocated to lab data analysis (3%) and a theory component (3%). The lab data analysis component contains the creation validation and use of a standard curve with one attempt. Where the theory component is an online canvas quiz with 2 attempts. 

A calculation test is also assigned around this time where it is worth 3%. You must get full marks from the test to receive the 3% mark with only 3 attempts. 

Module 4- Basic statistical analysis and interpretation of in vitro assay

This module uses a phenotypic screening approach to identify potential anticancer drugs using a simple in vitro cell viability assay. Due to changes in COVID-19 alert levels, the practical laboratory session was transformed into an online module.  Completion of this module is self-directed, and material from this module will be assessed in a Canvas quiz (Assignment 4) and may also be in the final exam. This workshop allows us to determine the cytotoxicity and therefore potential anticancer activity of novel compounds using the PrestoBlue® cell viability assay. This workshop was pretty much self-explanatory, but sometimes easy to miss small details so it is important to understand every step.

 

Module 5- Study skills - exam preparation

This module just goes over what to focus on when studying, to understand what we are asking? And where are the answers to be found?

 

MST & EST

The MST was taken right after the mid-semester break and consisted of 3 SAQ covering all lecture and workshop content prior. We were given 2 lecture slots off just before the break to allow you extra time to prepare for the mid-semester test and do some self-directed study. It is important to make use of the time during the mid-semester break as it is when assignment 2 (worth 20%) is also assigned to be completed during the break. 

 

Final Exam

• 2 h (plus Inspera admin time)

• SAQs & essays

• Content All Lectures & workshops

• Calculations

Lecture Content

The course is structured into three main lecture blocks 

Lecture Block 1: Foundation of Pharmacology & Toxicology

This block covers 13 lectures that are presented by 5 different lecturers.

Lecture 2-4 were taken by one of the course directors Prof Debbi Young. Where she goes over Pharmacodynamic and the mechanism of action of drugs. Personally, I enjoyed Debbi’s lectures as her explanations of contents are easy to understand where she helps us visualize the process which is great for visual learners. Similar to Dr Natasha Grimsey that does lectures 5 and 6. However lecture 6 was a bit of a content overload, so it was hard to get a grip of the main points. 

Lecture 7 was an assessment tutorial where the course directors Dr Rachel Cameron and Leslie Schwarcz, goes over what is expected from the course and how to answer test questions. Study advice was also given. 

Dr Jacueline Hannam’s section lectures 8-12, had a lot of content to learn but was conceptually quite easy. These ADME and Pharmacokinetics lectures were highly integrated where one concept leads on to another. During these lectures, calculation was also introduced, where it is sometimes hard to get your head around it. But overall if you follow along with the lectures and understand every step, it should not be that hard. 

Prof Malcom Tingles takes the last 2 lectures of the block. Personally, I found his lectures the hardest to follow and understand as the layout of his lecture notes were confusing. However I found his lectures quite interesting, where he talks about adverse drug reactions and the safety of pharmacology.  

 

Lecture Block 2: Applied Pharmacology 

This block covers 7 lectures that are presented by 4 different lecturers.

Prof Mark McKeage only took over lecture 15 about personalized medicine for curing cancer. His lectures were reasonably easy to understand and follow along, where learn what cancer is and its targeted therapy. 

Lecture 16 was just a tutorial taken by the course directors. This tutorial goes over the PD and PK foundation and PK dosing. This tutorial was extremely helpful especially with the mid-semester test coming up after. Lectures 17 and 18 are just self-directed study just before the break. 

Nuala Helsby was a very enthusiastic lecturer, where you can feel that she has passion for what she teaches. She takes over both lecture 20 and 21 where she goes over the variability of genetics and environmental difference. Her lectures were easy to follow and got you interested in the topic. 

Lectures 22 and 23 were taken by Prof Malcom Tingle where he talks about the interactions between different drugs and how drug poisoning occurs. I found these lectures easier to understand and follow, compared to his previous lectures, maybe because the content was more thought-provoking. 

Last two lectures of the 2nd block were taken by Nick Holford. I appreciate the way he prepares lecture notes as beside every slide there are notes that describe what the slide means. (Especially the ones with graphs and tables.) This was very helpful as you could read through it before and after the lectures without looking at the lecture recording. (More efficient). 

Lecture Block 3: Translational Pharmacology 

This block covers 8 lectures that are presented by 6 different lecturers.

During this block we get to learn how drugs are discovered, developed and finally into the market for use. The lectures follow a sequence and steps relevant for drug discovery and development. So, each lecture is mostly taken by different lecturers. 

Personally, I enjoyed this lecture block as it helps tie all learnt content from previous lectures together and allow you to understand what goes into developing a new novel drug.