Departments: Pharmacology

Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove

Chair: Walter C. Prozialeck, Ph.D.

The science of pharmacology deals with properties and effects of drugs and, in a more general sense, with the interactions between chemical compounds and living systems. Medical pharmacology focuses on the mechanisms of action, toxicities, and therapeutic uses of biologically active substances in humans. Pharmacologic knowledge per se is valueless unless health care professionals can apply the information in the daily practice of medicine. Physicians must be able to utilize pharmacology not only to treat but also to prevent disease. At CCOM, medical students are shown the correlation between pharmacology and related medical sciences, taught how to interpret the actions and uses of major classes of drugs, and instructed in the applications of pharmacodynamics to therapeutics.

In addition to fulfilling the teaching mission of the Department, faculty are actively engaged in cutting edge pharmacological research. Ongoing federally-funded research projects include studies in the areas of cancer biology, heavy metal toxicology, cardiovascular pharmacology and the pharmacology of marine natural products.

1601 Pharmacology I
This course deals with the general principles of pharmacology; the dynamics of absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination of drugs; mechanisms of drug actions; drug testing in humans; and prescription writing. In addition, the pharmacologic actions and clinical uses of autonomic cardiovascular and central nervous system drugs are described.

1602, 1603 Pharmacology II and III
These courses are a continuation of Pharmacology 1601. Topics covered include the chemotherapy of microbial and parasitic diseases, chemotherapy of neoplastic diseases, drugs acting on blood and blood-forming organs, hormones and hormone antagonists, principles of toxicology, vitamins, gastric antacids, digestants, laxatives, antihistamines, and drugs causing birth defects. In addition, the course includes several lectures in clinical pharmacology. Laboratory conferences are conducted to demonstrate the application of pharmacologic principles in simulated human cases. In these presentations, emphasis is placed on problem-solving, formulating hypotheses, making therapeutic decisions, and evaluating the patient's response to pharmacotherapy.

Elective: Cardiovascular Pharmacology
Cardiovascular disease is a national health problem of major consequence and its treatment is one of the principle problems facing modern medicine. This elective is designed to familiarize the student with the principle cardiovascular diseases, such as coronary artery disease, cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure, and hypertension, and to devise therapeutic strategies based on the appropriate use of pharmacologic agents.

Elective: Pharmacologic Aspects of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse and its associated medical and social problems have reached alarming proportions. For this reason, physicians and other health care professionals need to appreciate the various factors involved in the non-medical use of drugs. This elective is designed to provide the student with an in-depth understanding of the pharmacology of the common drugs of abuse, including alcohol, cocaine, stimulants, hallucinogens, and opioids. Particular emphasis will be given to basic pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic mechanisms as they relate to the effects of drugs and to the development of drug tolerance and dependence. Current theories regarding the physiologic basis of drug-seeking behavior and the development of drug dependence will be presented. In addition, various social, legal, and ethical aspects of the drug abuse problem will be considered.

Elective: Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Basis of Pediatric Therapy
Children often respond differently to drug therapy than do adults. A child is not a "little adult" and should not be regarded as such either in psychological, medical, or pharmacologic terms. Several important factors make pediatric therapy somewhat special. In terms of physiologic and anatomic factors, a child is considered a unique drug recipient. The overall drug effect and toxicity depend on both the maturational stage of the child and on the chemical properties of individual drugs. This elective is designed to familiarize the student with the basic principles of pediatric pharmacology and to address specific issues encountered by a practicing pediatrician, particularly in terms of drug interactions and toxicities encountered during the early life of the child.

Elective: Drugs and Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is the common pathway whereby several cardiovascular risk factors (e.g., hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes) contribute to heart attacks and strokes in the United States. Several drugs can alter development of the atherosclerotic lesion in the arterial vessel wall, and some are now known to do so by mechanisms previously unanticipated. Currently, considerable effort is being devoted to development of new drugs with highly specific antiatherosclerotic activities. Certain hormonal therapies like insulin and estrogen are also known to alter the course of atherosclerosis. In addition, there are a growing number of patients diagnosed with multiple atherosclerotic risk factors (syndrome X) in whom therapy is greatly complicated by interactions encountered with administration of multiple drugs. Finally, there is a growing list of drugs currently employed to help prevent restenosis, which so often follows surgical disruption of severe atherosclerotic lesions. This elective is designed to familiarize students with basic principles and clinical aspects related to use of drugs in the treatment of atherosclerosis in light of recent developments.

Elective: Medical Spanish
The Medical Spanish elective is designed to prepare preclinical second-year medical students to interact with Spanish-speaking patients. Since the Spanish-speaking community has become the largest minority in Chicago and other large U.S. cities, health professionals must frequently deal with these patients, and, therefore, it is essential they have a good understanding of the nature and scope of the Spanish language. Students will be taught a broad-enough lexicon so that they will feel confident in their efforts to diagnose medical problems and converse successfully with the patient regarding treatment and prognosis. This course has been specifically designed to aid the medical student in communicating with the Spanish-speaking patient, as well as understanding cultural attitudes that may impact the required medical care. Listening, comprehension, and conversational skills will be stressed through dialogues and oral simulations.

Elective: Pharmacology Research
The Pharmacology Department has active research programs in several areas, including inflammatory processes, cardiovascular disease, cancer research, toxicology, and biochemical pharmacology. Medical students with a strong interest in pharmacology are encouraged to work with faculty within the department.