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Online course

Good Brain, Bad Brain: Drug Origins

Explore our past, present and future understanding of drugs with this online course. Where do drugs come from? How do they work?

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Good Brain, Bad Brain: Drug Origins

This course is part of the Good Brain, Bad Brain program, which will enable you to explore the human brain, for CPD or as a gateway to further study.

Why join the course?

This course is designed for anyone who has ever wondered how the drugs in their medicine cabinet were found in the first place and how they ended up as pills in a bottle.

Where do drugs come from?

We’ll start by reflecting on the nature of medicines and look at the history of some everyday drugs that have been taken by humans for centuries.

This will show us that many commonly used drugs were found somewhat accidentally - and often without any understanding of the science behind how they worked.

Over time, this apparently random process has been refined and improved, so we’ll go on to consider recent advances in identifying potential drugs.

How do drugs go from laboratory to medicine?

Finding a molecule that has the potential to act as a drug is not the end of the process. The critical questions then are:

  • how do we get the drug into the body?
  • how much needs to be taken?
  • and will it be safe enough as well as effective?

What’s your experience?

The course will take an interactive approach, allowing you to both share your own experiences of medicines, and learn from experts in pharmacology and neuroscience. All jargon will be explained, so that you can join in without any specialist knowledge.

You can read more about the course in Alison Cooper’s blog post: “Have you ever wondered how drugs end up in a bottle in your medicine cabinet?

Learn more with the Good Brain, Bad Brain program

This course is the third of three in the Good Brain, Bad Brain program from the University of Birmingham. You can begin by looking at the basics of the human brain and Parkinson’s disease.

When you complete all three courses and buy a Certificate of Achievement for each, you will earn a FutureLearn Award as proof of completing the program of study.

What topics will you cover?

  • What is meant by the term “drug”
  • What do we need drugs for
  • How drugs are discovered: from natural substances to rational drug design
  • What factors have to be considered when developing the chemical molecule with therapeutic potential into a drug that patients can take
  • How is the safety of the drug tested and monitored

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Identify a definition for the term drug
  • Discuss how the purpose of drugs can be for symptom relief, to cure a disease or to prevent a disease
  • Compare estimates for the length of time it takes to produce a drug and the cost of the process
  • Identify the different mechanisms by which drugs have been discovered and how these have changed over time
  • Explain how an understanding of the molecular structure of a drug target molecule can lead to the development of new drugs
  • Describe the journey that a drug has to take through the body to its target and the factors that influence how much drug arrives at the target
  • Compare the different routes by which drugs can be administered
  • Explain how drug formulation impacts on how the drug works in the body
  • Discuss the purpose of the various phases of clinical trials of drug development

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at anyone with an interest in finding out where the drugs that keep us healthy come from. To take the course, the only experience you need is to have taken a drug - even just a throat lozenge.

Who will you learn with?

Alison Cooper

Alison Cooper is a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, where she teaches neuroscience and pharmacology.

Who developed the course?

The University of Birmingham is a public research university, consistently listed as a leading UK university and ranked among the top 100 in the world.

What’s the difference between a free course and an upgraded course?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • No access to course tests
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
  • Access to course tests
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For $74 you'll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

Image access mobile

  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

Access to tests

When you upgrade you’ll have access to any tests during the course.

Image tests mobile

  • Validate your learning
  • Ensure you have mastered the material
  • Qualify for a certificate

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to take any tests and score over 70%. You don’t get access to tests if you choose to take a course for free.

Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

Image certificate mobile

  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your LinkedIn or CV
  • Includes free shipping

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete, and score over 70% on any course tests.

Upgrade


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