, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 366-372

New Simulation Methods to Facilitate Achieving a Mechanistic Understanding of Basic Pharmacology Principles in the Classroom

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Abstract

We present a simulation tool to aid the study of basic pharmacology principles. By taking advantage of the properties of agent-based modeling, the tool facilitates taking a mechanistic approach to learning basic concepts, in contrast to the traditional empirical methods. Pharmacodynamics is a particular aspect of pharmacology that can benefit from use of such a tool: students are often taught a list of concepts and a separate list of parameters for mathematical equations. The link between the two can be elusive. While wet-lab experimentation is the proven approach to developing this link, in silico simulation can provide a means of acquiring important insight and understanding within a time frame and at a cost that cannot be achieved otherwise. We suggest that simulations and their representation of laboratory experiments in the classroom can become a key component in student achievement by helping to develop a student’s positive attitude towards science and his or her creativity in scientific inquiry. We present results of two simulation experiments that validate against data taken from current literature. We follow with a classroom example demonstrating how this tool can be seamlessly integrated within the traditional pharmacology learning experience.