About Us

About the BioPharm Program

As of September 1, 2018, the administration of the program will be housed in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Our unique program has always been, and continues to be, a joint program with strong links to both the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Science - a true interdisciplinary program.

New students starting in September 2018 will get a BHSc degree, existing students will have a choice of continuing as a BSc student or switching towards a BHSc degree. Please let Dr. Huizinga know if you want to switch. If we do not hear from you, you will continue as a BSc student. The program you will follow is exactly the same in both streams.

The Honours Biology & Pharmacology Program at McMaster University combines courses from the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science with those from the Faculty of Health Sciences. Biology courses provide wide exposure to modern biological concepts and techniques, while specialized Pharmacology courses provide students with skills in theoretical and practical aspects of the actions and uses of drugs.

The program offers a unique blend of instruction that utilizes the principles of Problem-based Learning and an extensive Co-operative Education Component.

Students enter the Honours Biology & Pharmacology Program after completion of two years of an Honours Biology (or equivalent) program. Candidates are interviewed to ensure their suitability for co-operative work term placements, and begin their first co-op work term after completing at least three full years of university level preparation.

Are You Looking For An Exciting Education And Great Job Prospects?

There are many aspects of the program that set it apart:

  • Limited enrollment to twenty students per year
  • High instructor to student ratios in both tutorial and lab courses
  • Problem based learning: self directed approach to researching and learning about many aspects of Pharmacology
  • Up to 12 months of coop experience in major areas such as academia, government and pharmaceutical industries
  • 9 unit senior thesis can be combined with work terms and may be conducted outside of McMaster University
  • Possibility to develop professional networking through work terms with coop supervisors and program instructors
  • Fully paid coop placements
  • Excellent preparation for graduate or professional schools and the job market

Further information is available for

IMPORTANT: All inquiries about prerequisites, course list and program information should be directed to cusicks@mcmaster.ca or huizinga@mcmaster.ca

What is Pharmacology?

In its very essence pharmacology is the study of drugs. Pharmacologists are interested in the effects drugs have on a range of systems from molecules to cells, organs, individuals, and entire populations of humans and animals.

Pharmacology draws on expertise from many disciplines including chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, and epidemiology. It can be divided into three major areas:

  • Pharmacodynamics: The study of what drugs do to the body
  • Pharmacokinetics: The study of what the body does to drugs
  • Pharmacoepidemiology: The study of drugs in populations

Thus, among many other things, pharmacologists are involved in the discovery and development of new drugs, their testing, marketing, surveillance and regulation, and in providing information about drugs.

Pharmacologists are fascinated by the workings of the human body and strive to understand pathophysiology to its deepest extent. Hence, human physiology (or systems biology) and pharmacology cannot be separated. Pharmacology is also at the forefront of personalized medicine thanks to rapid advancements in Pharmacogenomics.

The BioPharm program is therefore the ideal preparation for admission to professional schools such a Medicine, Nursing or Pharmacy. It is also the ideal preparation for applying for a Master's Degree in any field of medicine or biomedical sciences. Two of the current professors teaching in our program are alumni of our program! And yes, our students often obtain their ideal employment in industry!

IMPORTANT: All inquiries about prerequisites, course list and program information should be directed to cusicks@mcmaster.ca or huizinga@mcmaster.ca

The Co-operative Education Component

Co-operative educational work-terms are an integral and necessary component of the Honours Biology & Pharmacology degree. Science Co-operative Education is the product of a dynamic partnership between McMaster University, its students, and co-operative employers. In this educational process, students earn their degree by alternating academic terms with periods of related work experience.

Students frequently encounter educational, personal and career-related experiences that cannot be provided in the normal university setting. Work term placements are usually available in academic, governmental and industrial settings.

Each student completes sixteen months of co-operative experience during the course of the program.

For more information about co-op component (only!), please visit the Science Career & Cooperative Education site.

IMPORTANT: All inquiries about prerequisites, course list and program information should be directed to cusicks@mcmaster.ca or huizinga@mcmaster.ca

Problem-based Learning

The pharmacology courses in the BioPharm Program are taught in a problem-based, self-directed tutorial format which promotes active student involvement. In this learning format, content and process are inextricably linked - WHAT (content) is learned cannot be divorced from HOW (process) it is learned.

The objectives of each course are encapsulated in carefully crafted problems that serve as springboards for learning. Students identify issues and then seek, synthesize and integrate information during discussions with their peers. The venue for these discussions is a tutorial group usually composed of ten students and one faculty member who is the tutor.

Tutors act as facilitators and guides during the discussions - they do not give lectures. The triad of problem-based learning consists of the problems, the students and their tutors.

In problem-based, self-directed learning, students learn to assess their own performance as well as that of their peers. Ongoing evaluation is pivotal in this learning process. The critical evaluation of materials is emphasized, and evaluation procedures have been developed that measure the content as well as process of learning. For more information, see Tutorial Evaluation in a Problem-based Program: A Guide for the Perplexed.

Flexibility, resilience and a critical outlook on information are encouraged in this program. In this way, the educational experience serves to enhance our students' professional and personal pursuits.

IMPORTANT: All inquiries about prerequisites, course list and program information should be directed to cusicks@mcmaster.ca or huizinga@mcmaster.ca