In all the writing about science, pharmacology, and pharmacology topics that I've done so far, I can't recall that I have ever sat down and described what pharmacology IS in basic terms. This is probably a way to kick-start the science topics of the blog here, yes? So let's explore.
I know many people who appreciate the phrase, "better living through chemistry" - and they are quite correct, we owe quite a bit to our chemist friends. But for chemical stuff that affects physiological function, we can generally take it one step further and add pharmacology as a co-conspirator in the better living racket.
Pharmacology is, in the broadest sense, the study of drug-body interactions. Using a wide variety of scientific tools, pharmacology can be applied to ask and answer many drug-body questions. What does drug X target inside the body? What effects will drug X cause? How will the body distribute and break down drug X? Is drug X safe (and how do we define "safe" anyway)? How might we develop something that is more safe and more effective? What other targets can we investigate with our newfound knowledge of where/how drug X works? Pharmacology helps to define drugs as physiological tools- whether that tool is in your morning cup of caffeinated goodness or your asthma rescue inhaler.
When you look at all the questions and angles and approaches involved, one quickly sees that pharmacology is incredibly multidisciplinary. It employs multiple sub-disciplines of chemistry, biology, physiology, behavioral study, genomics, proteomics, and MANY more to find the answers to the important questions. I personally think the wide variety of approaches used in pharmacology make it really exciting! In order to answer a broader question, you can end up learning how to do a bunch of very different scientific techniques, bring all of them together, and create a coherent and comprehensive answer out of your multiple-angled observations.
I am, of course, a little biased. You can probably tell. At least I'm open about it.
Many people think that pharmacology is mainly about drug discovery. That is indeed a major part of the discipline. We can use the multidisciplinary approaches of pharmacology to gain an understanding of how the body works, then work with that information to develop workarounds when things don't function as expected. Many of those workarounds come in the form of therapeutic compounds. But there is much more than drug discovery here. Plenty of natural and synthetic compounds are already in regular use today, that are not as well-understood as they could be. There are chemical entities involved in medicinal properties of plants and fungi that have not been isolated and made more useful to us. The toxic effects of common and uncommon chemicals often need to be more thoroughly described as well. I could go on, but these are just a few examples. Pharmacology is vast.
As we gain a little steam here on the blog front, I'll expand on several these topics individually. There is so much to pharmacology that a single post will either become too massive or too nonspecific, so I'm trying to strike a middle ground by stopping here. Just please, don't ask me if I'm a pharmacist. Don't get me wrong, pharmacists do a crucial job, but pharmacologists are on the research side. And I'll bet we have more fun.