Pharmacokineticists show us how a medicine is processed by the body and how it affects the patient. The word “pharmacokinetics” comes from the Greek words for medicine and motion. Pharmacokineticists study the motion of a medicine through a patient’s body. This includes how a patient breaks the medicine down, how long it lasts in the patient’s body, and how it is eliminated.

Before the start of a clinical trial, the Principal Investigator will ask the Pharmacokineticist for input into the protocol, or design of the study. During the clinical trial, the Pharmacokineticist works with Research Nurses. The Pharmacokineticists analyse the blood, urine and tissue samples that the Research Nurse collects.

Pharmacokineticists need to have a degree, and typically a higher degree, in biochemistry or biomedical science. Some of them also study pharmacy, and then go into pharmacokinetics to build on their knowledge of pharmaceuticals.

Pharmacokineticists need a good understanding of mathematics and statistics, because statistical analysis of data is an important part of the job. Because of this, Pharmacokineticists are able to answer research questions about what the body does to medicines after they are administered, and their work helps to improve how these medicines are used.