Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 366–372 | Cite as

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



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.


Education Pharmacology Systems biology In silico Model Simulation Mechanism 



This research was funded in part by the CDH Research Foundation (R21-CDH-00101). The software described along with supporting documentation may be obtained without charge from the corresponding author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Biosystems Group, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic SciencesThe University of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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