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Defining and unpacking the core concepts of pharmacology: A global initiative

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare GuildingORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Pharmacological Society. Background and Purpose: Development of core concepts in disciplines such as biochemistry, microbiology and physiology have transformed teaching. They provide the foundation for the development of teaching resources for global educators, as well as valid and reliable approaches to assessment. An international research consensus recently identified 25 core concepts of pharmacology. The current study aimed to define and unpack these concepts. Experimental Approach: A two-phase, iterative approach, involving 60 international pharmacology education experts, was used. The first phase involved drafting definitions for core concepts and identifying key sub-concepts via a series of online meetings and asynchronous work. These were refined in the second phase, through a 2-day hybrid workshop followed by a further series of online meetings and asynchronous work. Key Results: The project produced consensus definitions for a final list of 24 core concepts and 103 sub-concepts of pharmacology. The iterative, discursive methodology resulted in modification of concepts from the original study, including change of ‘drug–receptor interaction’ to ‘drug–target interaction’ and the change of the core concept ‘agonists and antagonists’ to sub-concepts of drug–target interaction. Conclusions and Implications: Definitions and sub-concepts of 24 core concepts provide an evidence-based foundation for pharmacology curricula development and evaluation. The next steps for this project include the development of a concept inventory to assess acquisition of concepts, as well as the development of case studies and educational resources to support teaching by the global pharmacology community, and student learning of the most critical and fundamental concepts of the discipline.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Guilding C, White PJ, Cunningham M, Kelly-Laubscher R, Koenig J, Babey A-M, Tucker S, Kelly JP, Gorman L, Aronsson P, Hawes M, Ngo SNT, Misfud J, Werners AH, Hinton T, Khan F, Aljofan M, Angelo T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Pharmacology

Year: 2024

Volume: 181

Issue: 3

Pages: 375-392

Print publication date: 01/02/2024

Online publication date: 22/08/2023

Acceptance date: 08/08/2023

Date deposited: 05/10/2023

ISSN (print): 0007-1188

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5381

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/bph.16222

PubMed id: 37605852


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