Year of erogation: 
Unit Coordinator: 
Disciplinary Sector: 
First semester
Language of instruction: 

Italian Language


Learning outcomes of the course unit

The course of EXPERIMENTAL PHARMACOLOGY aims to enable the student to know and understand the pharmacological investigation techniques applied in the research and drug development (functional studies, binding, biochemical tests, holistic and reductionist systems) and to develop the student's ability to use the knowledge and understanding acquired, so that at the end of the course he will be able to propose experimental approaches to be taken in the characterization of drugs, the student should correctly and critically interpret the results of virtual experiments demonstrating independence of judgment, learning ability and communication


Basic knowledge of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy

Course contents summary

The lessons concern EXPERIMENTAL PHARMACOLOGY insights, from a theoretical point of view and practical aspects related to the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics (with determination of their quantitative parameters), and detailed description of the experimental methods applied in the study of the effects of drugs in systems with different degree of complexity. Practical lessons deal with the production and acquisition of the experimental results, also processing statistical data and their interpretation in the light of scientific literature and their communication.

Course contents

The course is organized in frontal and practical lessons- The main topics are:
Purpose and principles of experimental pharmacology
Methods for qualitative/quantitative analysis of biological responses: experimental design, technique, binding study, clinical trials.
Elements of molecular pharmacology: use of the Law of Mass Action to quantify the interaction of drugs and receptors, agonists and antagonists and the concept of potency/efficacy.
Receptor theory, stimulus-response coupling, desensitization
Pharmacokinetics: route of administration and changes of the concentrations of drugs in the body
Biological assay: International Units
Evaluation of toxicity and safety of drugs
Experimental models for the study of: drugs active on Central Nervous System, Peripheral Nervous System, respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular systems, pain and inflammation
Transgenic animal models
Cell cultures and molecular biology techniques (Western blot, PCR)
Theoretical and practical approach to the calculation of results, statistical analysis and curve-fitting: biological variability, frequency distribution curves, probits, confidence intervals, parametric (t-test, ANOVA) and non parametric comparisons, linear correlation

Recommended readings

Teaching material is made available by the teacher in electronic copy
GOODMAN & GILMAN S. The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics McGraw-Hill
DOLARA P, FRANCONI E, MUGELLI A: Farmacologia e Tossicologia Sperimentale Pitagora Editrice, Bologna.
PAOLETTI R et al: Farmacologia generale e molecolare UTET

Teaching methods

The teaching is done through lectures supplemented by individual and group exercises.
The theoretical aspects of experimental pharmacology are applied in practical lessons with student participation in drug assays conducted in the laboratory or simulations of experiments performed in classroom or exercises in statistical analysis of data. Groups of students are invited and driven in the organization and presentation of seminars, through consultation of bibliographic sources. These activities are designed to reinforce in each student the ability to integrate knowledge, analyze critically complex issues and communicate clearly their own conclusions.

Assessment methods and criteria

The assessment of the achievement of the objectives of the course consists of an oral examination. Through questions regarding the theoretical content of the course it will be determined whether the student has achieved the goal of knowledge and understanding of the basic principles of pharmacological experimentation. Through questions regarding virtual experimental situations it will be determined whether the student has the ability of applying the acquired knowledge and to solve new and complex problems through arguments that demonstrate the acquisition of learning skills and formulation of autonomous judgments