Profile of Clinical Pharmacologists in the United States

John T. Wilson, R. Don Brown, K. K. Kimura, Andrew Whelton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The need for clinical pharmacology in research and education, drug development, and health care delivery is well known. However, a current profile of those working in the field is not available. The ACCP authorized a survey of clinical pharmacologists to provide such a profile. Members of the ACCP or ASCPT were solicited by mail with a self‐assessment questionnaire. A response rate of 37% was obtained. Demographic findings agree well with a previous study2 limited to those with the M.D. Our results reveal that most clinical pharmacologists are between 30–59 years of age, have an MD, PhD or PharmD degree; most of those with MDs list their primary specialty as internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, or anesthesiology. They affiliate with the respective departments (including pharmacology) in academia or hold positions in industry or government, but few are in clinical therapeutics per se. About 20% of those with only a MD or PharmD degree cite employment in health care delivery. However, a higher percentage of these respondents work in research and education rather than in drug development or health care delivery. For those with only a PhD, more work in drug development and research and education than in health care delivery. The highest proportion of respondents with any doctoral degree work in the Northeast. The average income is a function of rank, doctoral degree, specialty, department appointment, and type and location of employer. The profile of a typical clinical pharmacologist is presented. An analysis of clinical pharmacology manpower from several perspectives reveals a marked deficit, but the field itself is professionally and economically attractive. Lack of a well defined career track in academia and a poorly defined clinical role for MD clinical pharmacologists are proposed as reasons limiting entry of trainees. These and other results of the survey support an increased emphasis on training programs. Clinical pharmacologist involvement in health care delivery and drug development must be increased if the safe and effective use of new drugs is to be realized. Nine assessments and initiatives are formulated to accomplish this goal within the next decade. 1989 American College of Clinical Pharmacology

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-713
Number of pages19
JournalThe Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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