Reviews for course code PMCOL (Pharmacology)

PMCOL 201: Introductory Pharmacology (2015)

Pharmacology is the study of drug development. I initially took Pmcol 201 out of pure interest in the subject, however, this course ended up being extremely beneficial and helped me a lot in Biochem 200, Physl 212 / 214 and on the MCAT. The material is fascinating, the prof is hilarious and helpful and the textbook is not required. Word on the street is that the final is one of the hardest on campus, but keep in mind that the class is curved. This definitely is not a bird course, however, an A is definitely obtainable and the information you gain is extremely useful moving forward in neuroscience and related courses. I 100% recommend it.

PMCOL 201: Introductory Pharmacology (2018)

Difficulty: 4/5

Course Work: Midterm 30%, Final 70%

Instructor: Dr. Andrew Holt

Pharmacology 201 (Introductory Pharmacology) is not your typical pharmacology class, and is overall notorious for being a challenging class. Dr. Holt does not give you a list of a bunch of drugs and expect you to memorize their mechanism and/or effect. Rather, Pharmacology 201 covers topics that include drug binding, development, affinity, competition, cooperativity, as well as how our bodies absorb, distribute, metabolize, and clear drugs of different classes. Several other topics including one/two compartment kinetics, urine sampling, and bioassays are covered as well. Students tend to complain about the math that is involved in the course. The math itself is not challenging (simple arithmetic and plugging numbers into formulas), what can be difficult is determining which formula to use in a question.

Due to the level of difficulty, this class is no longer offered to 2nd year students – as of 2018 it is now a 3rd year level class. To give you an idea, in 2016, the median grade was a B, the mean mark was 65.4%, and the highest mark was 90%. However, if you are interested in pharmacology (as I was) and really want to take this class, don’t be afraid! It is definitely possible to do well in this course, albeit you will have to put a lot of time into studying. A warning though: many students are caught off guard during the midterm as Dr. Holt provides very few practice questions prior to the midterm (and final) that are representative of the questions he will ask.

PMCOL 202: Topics in Pharmacology (2015)

Difficulty: 3.5/5

Professor(s): Dr. P. Smith

Assessment: 2 Midterms and Final

Review: This course outlines the molecular mechanisms of drug action, primarily on ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. Large topics discussed in the class: cholinergic and adrenergic mechanisms pertaining to the autonomic nervous system, pharmacological properties of various neurotransmitters and their respective receptors, and cardiovascular pharmacology. This class requires consistent and dedicated review as there are many drug names to remember throughout the term. Without a doubt, this class is both challenging and rewarding – definitely recommended for students interested in pharmacology who have a decent background in physiology.

PMCOL 305: An Introduction to the Pharmacology of Drug Abuse (2015)

Difficulty: 3/5

Textbook: Not required

Professor: Martin Davies

Review: 40% Midterm, 60% FinalThis course covered a variety of legal and illegal drugs, highlighting interesting facts including street names, production, trafficking, modes of administration and detection of use. The mechanism of action, physiological effects, psychological effects, tolerance, and dependence were also discussed. Dr. Davies was phenomenal and kept the class very entertaining with various stories and videos. He was very approachable and explained material effectively. The tests covered material directly from the notes and were non-cumulative and multiple choice.

PMCOL 305: Introduction to Pharmacology of Drug Abuse (2016)

Difficulty: 2/5

Course Work: Midterm (40%) Final (60%)

Instructor: Dr. Martin Davies

Review: The coursework is fairly light for a neuroscience student, as most of the foundation for this course will have already been learned in other courses. Dr. Davies is also a fantastic instructor, and is a pleasure to have class with. This class is a quite interesting and will give you some insight into the mind as well as body by showing you how certain drugs give rise to specific alterations on a person.

PMCOL 305: Introduction to Pharmacology of Drug Abuse (2019)

Difficulty: 2/5

Textbook: None

Course Work: 2 Midterms (25%, 30%) Final (45%)

Instructor: Dr. Martin Davies

Review: Dr. Davies is an incredibly fun and laid back professor who is able to convey the information in a succinct but engaging way. Each lecture largely focuses on a different drug class, but there is lots of overlap between the mechanisms and principles of use between classes. Davies often tests on specific details related to the experiments that he mentions in class, so be sure to know the general results and effects drawn from them. Exams are non cumulative and multiple choice, with an average of 7 lectures per exam, making them relatively easy to study for.

PMCOL 371: Cellular Neuroscience

Difficulty 5/5

Textbook: None

Course Work: Midterm (40%) Final (60%)

Instructor: Dr. William Colmers and guest lecturers

Review: This very dense course dives into how the nervous system functions at the cellular level, with specific focuses on nerve cell membranes, ion channels, receptors, neural networks and systems, with a very minimal focus on the drugs that affect these systems. Dr. Colmers very willing to put in the effort to ensure that his students understand the material, but very much so leaves it up to the student to reach out and schedule meetings. His slides can often be ambiguous and confusing, so attendance is strongly recommended. There is strong emphasis on research techniques and mechanisms based on experiments that he discusses in class. This class requires a lot of review and strong understanding of early lectures to carry over into later topics.

PMCOL 412: Drugs and the Nervous System (2015)

Difficulty: 4/5

Textbook: None

Professor: Dr. Sipione + Guest Lecturers

Exams: 35% midterm; 65% final

Review: By far the most enjoyable course of my undergrad, but also not the easiest course. Exams, which were a mix of short answer and multiple choice questions, were very fair. However, expectations with respect to some of the guest lectures were unclear (a lot of details were presented that were never tested on). The topics covered in this class were mostly mechanisms of neurodegeneration and experimental methods of treating neurological disorders. The most difficult part of this class wasn’t necessarily the content itself, mostly just the sheer amount of information you need to know for the midterm and final. I would highly recommend this class to anyone interested in neurodegeneration!

PMCOL 412: Drugs & the Nervous System (2016)


Course work50% midterm, 50% final

Instructor: Dr. Simonetta Sipione

ReviewThis class is a fourth-year course option to fill 3* for the topics in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience. If you like learning about cellular functions, drugs and various disorders of the nervous system, this course is for you! It extensively covers topics from the BBB, to pain control, to movement disorders, all the way to protein degradation pathways. This course might seem daunting at first, but is totally manageable if you stay on top of things. Be prepared to learn many, many drugs names and their effects – bring your cue cards, and you’ll be all set!

PMCOL 412: Drugs and the Nervous System (2016)

Difficulty: 4/5

Course Work: Midterm Exam Part I (25%), Midterm Exam Part II (25%), Final Exam (50%)

Instructor: Simonetta Sipione (main instructor)

Guest Instructors: Winship, Smith, Giuliani, Kerr, Baker, Bolduc, Martin, Posse de Chaves

Review: The course structure may be similar to other courses taken by students in biomedical science programs, in the sense that instructors with expertise in certain areas of neuropharmacology will provide lectures. Of course, as students may have observed in similarly structured courses like NEURO210 or PHYSL372, lecturers can have diverse teaching styles, and it is on the onus of the student to ask questions and clarify concepts.

Some of the concepts regarding molecular pathways and specific drug pathways may be better catered toward a Pharmacology student, but a great majority of the course concepts and lessons were very accessible to Neuroscience students. I personally enjoyed the detail given the study of disease or condition pathology, which covered a little more than half of the course when compared to therapeutic approaches. The difficulty arises from the fact that there lecture blocks may have novel information, with varying expectations of the student to understand a lot of information. There is seldom no overlap of concepts and lessons in the first half of the course. Memorizing drug names and mechanisms can also be considerably challenging! Any students wishing to take this course should have a background in nervous system drug mechanisms, or experience with pharmacological concepts.

PMCOL 412: Drugs and the Nervous System (2018)

Difficulty: 4/5

Coursework: Midterm (multiple choice worth 15%, written worth 20%), Final (multiple choice worth 30%, written worth 35%)

Instructor: Dr. Simonetta Sipione (also the coordinator), Dr. Elena Posse de Chaves, Dr. Ian Winship, Dr. Peter Smith, and many others

Review: PMCOL 412 is quite fast-paced and content heavy. Although incredibly interesting, this is not a class you can forget about for a couple of days – if you want to do well you must stay as caught up as possible. The first half of the course focuses on different diseases and introduces drugs that are used to treat these diseases, while the second half focuses on cellular mechanisms of degeneration and how these mechanisms may be pharmacologically targeted. The exams were definitely weighted more towards knowing drugs and their mechanisms as opposed to the diseases, which got significantly more difficult after the final due to the introduction of many experimental drugs. This class also has several guest lecturers so you should be prepared for different teaching styles. PMCOL 412 is certainly more concerned with neurodegenerative diseases than the nervous system in general, but there is a good variety of other conditions discussed pre-midterm, such as pain, depression, stroke, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. I found making a table of drugs, their mechanisms, the diseases they’re used for/being tested in, and their classification throughout the semester extremely useful when it came down to the final. Overall the exams were fair, and the most overwhelming thing about this class is the sheer quantity of drugs and mechanisms. The final was non-cumulative.