Wednesday, February 15, 2006


As PharmMom reminds me, I am not a real doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

So what am I?

I am a PhD pharmacologist with what I hope is excellent training at the lab bench. This means that I study how new drugs work to modify physiology and pathophysiology in a manner that works toward restoring and maintaining health. We pharmacologists also devise strategies to make existing drugs more potent and selective to reduce side effect profiles. (If you're an undergraduate student looking for more information on a career in Pharmacology, check here.)

In the US, we normally pursue a 4-year university degree in some biology or chemistry discipline, then pursue combined didactic-laboratory PhD training (usually 4-7 years), often in the basic science department of a medical school. Graduate training in Pharmacology culminates in the oral defense of a 100- to 500-page research dissertation comprising the bulk of our lab studies. Most graduates then pursue a postdoctoral fellowship, or "postdoc," of loosely-mentored research under a major professor driven primarily by the freshly-minted PhD with the aim of developing skills to become a competitive, independent investigator in academia, industry, business, journalism, among other careers. Some of us do a bit of teaching, either out of love or by edict of your department chairman: I'm fortunate have a pretty decent 17-year record of educating health professional students (out of the love of it) in medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, physical therapy, public health, and medical journalism, often at the highest attainable degree of each profession.

Now to the star of our show, the official blog disclaimer:

But I have no professional qualifications for commenting on patient care or providing direct advice on clinical management of any disease. I do provide advice to my physician (MD) colleagues when solicited, but they interpret my contributions within the full framework of their extensive training in differential diagnosis and medical treatment.

What this means is that I have no business in consulting with patients directly on their drug regimens or making suggestions on the use of specific dietary supplements. While some non-MD 'practitioners' will do so independently of a primary-care doctor, I consider such behavior as a violation of professional ethics and a danger to patients. If you show up at my laboratory for an herbal consult, all I am qualified to do is put you to work in my lab.

Hence, the information I provide is for information only and is intended to protect you from the unscrupulous practices of a few unsavory alternative medical practitioners and a very few dietary supplement manufacturers who choose to practice outside the voluntary standards of their respective major trade associations.

Any advice I might provide is for educational and entertainment purposes only or, at most, to give you information to bring to your primary care physician to discuss within the context of your total medical care plan. Anyone who uses information posted on this blog for self-medication with dietary supplements independent of the guidance of a licensed health-care professional, takes personal responsibility for their decision and does so at their own risk, recognizing that they may be delaying early detection, proper diagnosis, and successful treatment of potentially life-threatening diseases.

The opinions and scientific conclusions expressed here are mine alone and do not represent the views of any funding agency, local or federal advisory panel, research organization, university, colleagues, administrators or laboratory co-workers with whom I am associated. PharmMom, PharmSis, PharmGirl, and PharmPreschooler would also prefer that you not hold them responsible for my rantings as well. I do get cranky and am well-known to bite the hand that feeds me, particularly when the body to which that hand belongs exhibits unscientific or unethical behavior.

I post as a scientist who is a caring citizen of the world to disseminate what I perceive as truth supported by factual information.

I am also the sole administrator of this weblog. The blog administrator is dedicated to open discourse, especially on controversial topics, and welcomes lively debate on issues via the comment function of Blogger. Through mutual consideration, mutual respect, and presentation of opposing views, we hope to arrive at truth. However, the blog administrator reserves the right to remove comments by and/or block access of commentors whose content is deemed inflammatory, libelous, and/or dangerous to human health. Personal attacks will only be permitted if it is deemed that the individual being targeted is operating in violation of federal, state, or local laws, particularly those related to the practice of medicine. The blog administrator reserves the right to serve as the final referee on such matters, but will seek qualified legal and medical advice where indicated.

Otherwise, let's go wild and have fun. Pharmacology is the most interdisciplinary of the biomedical sciences and the world is full of unrealized therapeutic agents that have the potential to reduce or eliminate human suffering.

I hope to learn as much from you as I can offer here in my little piece of the blogosphere.


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