Physiology and Pharmacology 1

Module code: BS2013

Module co-ordinator: Professor Richard Evans

In this module you will study the principles by which drugs affect the physiological function of individual cells that comprise organ systems such as the heart and endocrine mechanisms. We will explore the molecular mechanisms which hormones, neurotransmitters and growth factors (agonists) use to regulate cell function by interacting with specific receptors. Using specific examples, we will discuss the ability of drugs to interact with these receptors and thereby act as therapeutic agents. We will investigate the physiology of the cardiovascular system and ways in which drugs are used therapeutically to modify cardiovascular function. We will also consider the control of the endocrine system.

Working as part of a small tutorial group, you will use computer simulations of pharmacological experiments to study the basic principles of pharmacology and the methodologies used to quantitate drug-receptor interactions. These studies will then continue in the lab where you will perform experiments to study the sites and mechanisms of drug action.

Topics covered

  • Basic structure of the various classes of cell surface receptors
  • Intracellular signalling pathways regulated by these receptors
  • Rceptors that possess multiple subtypes for a given hormone or neurotransmitter (agonist) and the physiological basis for this
  • Quantitative analysis of drug-receptor interactions and interpret the information
  • How drugs can modify agonist-receptor interactions
  • Mechanisms by which drugs can modify the function of the cardiovascular system to treat disease states such as hypertension
  • The pancreas and insulin
  • Reproduction and reproductive endocrinology


  • 28 one-hour lectures
  • 8 hours of practicals
  • 4 one-hour tutorials


  • Exam, 3 hours (70%)
  • Essay (15%)
  • Practical write-up (15%)