Course explores science behind medicines

Course explores science behind medicines

20 March 2015

The world’s growing population faces major health issues, and medicines are a primary pillar to effect better health. The Science of Medicines course explores the science of key medicines used to manage heart disease, depression, diabetes, pain control and smoking cessation.

It is designed by a team of medication experts who focus on improving education for pharmacy students at Monash. As pharmacists and scientists they bridge the interface between science and the patient.

Week by week learners study a new medicine and health area, starting by looking through the eyes of an affected patient. They learn the mechanics of a disease and how it affects the world’s population. They then delve into the science of the medicine to explore the medicine’s chemistry, how it works in the body, and why it is formulated in a certain way to become the medicine seen on the pharmacy shelf.

The course is designed to be relevant to those who care for people affected by the conditions covered, as it will bring practical patient tips drawn from the understanding of the science. 

Science of Medicines ran for the first time in September of last year and attracted more than 4000 active participants, many of whom fell into one of three categories: patients and their families, healthcare professionals such as nurses and general practitioners, and students interested in studying pharmacy.

Lead educator for the course, and Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Director of Learning and Teaching, Dr Ian Larson said the course drew significant interest.

“The level of student engagement was unusually strong for a free online course, and nearly 1000 students fully completed the course – evidence of the demand for greater understanding of the medicines we take and how they work,” Dr Larson said.

The Science of Medicines course was offered as a private online summer course for 60 students commencing the graduate-entry Bachelor of Pharmacy.

The Science of Medicines is the first Monash Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to be offered for a second time. Enhancements have been made to the course on the basis of feedback from last year, and for the first time in a Monash MOOC, students will have the opportunity to sit a final exam and, if successful, receive a verified certificate of attainment.

Science of Medicines is a free online course, commencing on 23 March and running for six weeks. For further information please visit the FutureLearn website.