Toxicology is the scientific study of adverse effects that occur in living organisms due to chemicals or biologics. It involves observing and reporting symptoms, mechanisms, detection and treatments of toxic substances, in particular relation to the poisoning of humans. It includes environmental agents and chemical compounds found in nature, as well as pharmaceutical compounds that are synthesized for medical use by humans. These substances may produce toxic effects in living organisms including disturbance in growth patterns, discomfort, disease and death.
Toxicologists is an expert in the science of toxicology, the study of the adverse effects of chemical, physical or biological agents such as drugs or poisons.
- Toxicologists use scientific principles in order to determine the prevalence, quantity and effects of a certain chemical on the environment and people’s health
- Researching the safety and potential harm caused by chemicals is the job of a toxicologist
- Their tasks range from testing for the effects of particular chemicals, determining their concentrations, assessing risks by interpreting data, and searching for mechanisms of toxicity
- Toxicologists give information related to substances like food, cosmetics, chemicals or other substances which are safe to human beings and also to other living organisms, like animals
Drug development companies and chemical, cosmetic, and other consumer-product companies need toxicologists to determine whether new drugs and consumer products are safe for human or veterinary use. Toxicologists working in academic institutions and research centers often explore the molecular mechanisms of toxicity. Government agencies also employ toxicologists to help frame guidelines, review and regulate drugs and chemicals.
To become a toxicologist, one must take the life science stream. One can opt for a bachelor degree in botany, chemistry, zoology, biochemistry, and medicine, veterinary science, pharmacy, biochemistry, biotechnology, microbiology, environmental biology or some other life science based discipline.
For the student interested in entering the field of toxicology, a Bachelor of Science degree is the minimum requirement. After bachelors, one can go for Master of Science in toxicology i.e. M.Sc. Toxicology followed by doctoral studies.
Personal attributes – Toxicologists also require excellent analytical abilities, logical thinking, attention to detail and problem-solving skills.
In addition to laboratory-based toxicology work, toxicologists are also preferred in the clinical drug safety or pharmacovigilance roles where in professionals keep a vigil on the safety data generated during clinical trials or post-marketing studies. Most adverse effects caused by drugs are an extrapolation of their pharmacodynamic properties or may be idiosyncratic. Pharmaceutical toxicologists have the understanding of how a drug is expected to behave based on the chemical structure, drug class or its pre-clinical safety profile.