20.201 | Fall 2013 | Graduate

Mechanisms of Drug Actions


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week; 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week; 1 hour / session


Permission of the instructor.


This course addresses the scientific basis for the development of new drugs. The first half of the semester begins with an overview of the drug discovery process, followed by fundamental principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, metabolism, and the mechanisms by which drugs cause therapeutic and toxic responses. The second half of the semester applies those principles to case studies and literature discussions of current problems with specific drugs, drug classes, and therapeutic targets.



Golan, David E., Armen H. Tashjian, and Ehrin J. Armstrong, eds. Principles of Pharmacology: The Pathophysiologic Basis of Drug Therapy. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011. ISBN: 9781608312702. [Preview with Google Books]

Klaassen, Curtis. Casarett & Doull’s Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons. 8th ed. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2013. ISBN: 9780071769235.

Gilman, A. G., T. W. Rall, et al. Goodman and Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. McGraw-Hill Professional, 1996. ISBN: 9780070262669.

Physiology Texts

Guyton, Arthur C., and John E. Hall. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 10th ed. Saunders, 2000. ISBN: 9780721686776. [Preview with Google Books]

Widmaier, Eric, Hershel Raff, and Kevin Strang. Human Physiology: The Mechanisms of Body Function. 7 Sub ed. William C Brown Pubulication, 1998. ISBN: 9780070670655.

Histology Texts

Mescher, Anthony. Junqueira’s Basic Histology: Text and Atlas. 13th ed. McGraw-Hill Medical, 2013. ISBN: 9780071780339. [Preview with Google Books]

Bloom, William, and Don W. Fawcett. A Textbook of Histology. 10th ed. W. B. Saunders, 1975. ISBN: 9780721617572.


Exam 30
Homework 20
Case Study Project 30
Reading & Discussion of Assigned Papers 20

Course Info

Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets with Solutions
Exams with Solutions
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples
Written Assignments
Instructor Insights