International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology

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The International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) is a voluntary, non-profit association representing the interests of scientists in pharmacology-related fields to facilitate Better Medicines through Global Education and Research around the world.

History

Established in 1959 as a section of the International Union of Physiological Sciences, IUPHAR became an independent organization in 1966 and is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The first World Congress of Pharmacology was held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1961 and subsequently held every three years. After 1990 the World Congresses were moved to a four-year interval. These meetings not only present the latest pharmacological advances in research accomplishments, technology, and methodology, but also provide a forum for international collaboration and exchange of ideas. A General Assembly, consisting of delegates from all the member societies, is convened during the congresses so member societies have an opportunity to elect the Executive Committee and vote on matters concerning the governance and activities of the union.

Members

IUPHAR members are national societies from around the world, however, the various sections and committees are composed of individuals from academia, pharmaceutical companies, and government organizations, all working together to advance the field. IUPHAR members are not individuals, that might have a membership to national and or international societies in pharmacology.

Composition

IUPHAR is divided in section topics. The Division of Clinical Pharmacology focuses on the needs and research tools for clinicians. The Committee on Receptor Nomenclature and Drug Classification (NC-IUPHAR) facilitates the interface between the discovery of new sequences from the Human Genome Project and the designation of the derived proteins as functional receptors and ion channels. In other words, as new discoveries are made in pharmacology, NC-IUPHAR provides a uniform guideline for naming and classifying the results in the public domain. Sections specializing in various areas of pharmacology have been established, including Education, Drug Metabolism and Drug Transport, Gastrointestinal Pharmacology, Natural Products, Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacogenetics.

Activities

In general, IUPHAR offers individual pharmacologists free curriculum expertise, career development and job listings (the non-profit PharmacoCareers.org), research resources, and collaboration opportunities. IUPHAR offers its member societies venues for participating in world-wide initiatives, publicizing member meetings and activities, nominating individuals for Young Investigator awards, and naming delegates to the General Assemblies. For examples, visit the biannual newsletter entitled, Pharmacology International at http://www.iuphar.org/pubs_newsletter.html .

A primary purpose of IUPHAR is providing global free access to a major, on-line repository of characterization data for receptors, ion channels and drugs through the Committee on Receptor Nomenclature and Drug Classification (NC-IUPHAR), which was established in 1987. This database is an integral part of the Guide for Pharmacology, a joint endeavor with the British Pharmacological Society, at http://www.GuideToPharmacology.org. The database includes all the G protein-coupled receptors, voltage-gated ion channels, 7TM receptors, nuclear receptors and, shortly, ligand-gated ion channels which are known to be in the human genome. Where relevant, data on the rat and mouse homologues are presented to assist researchers and clinicians in developing and/or enhancing therapeutics for eventual medication for humans.

NC-IUPHAR also promulgates standards of name nomenclature for research in pharmacology and the related disciplines.

As a non-government organization in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO), IUPHAR representatives help shape international policy on essential medicines, appropriate dose therapeutics for children, and clinical pharmacology core competencies among its many WHO-related activities.

The Division of Clinical Pharmacology compiled and released the Research in Humans Compendium, a free resource to provide the scientific community interested in human research with an easy-to-use reference on how to design a research protocol to assess the effectiveness of a drug in a series of pathological conditions.

An important aspect of IUPHAR is the development of pharmacology in developing countries. In conjunction with the International Council for Science, the Pharmacology for Africa (PharfA) initiative was undertaken in 2006 to promote and organize pharmacology on the African continent. The South African Society of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology is building a database and network of institutions and pharmacologists to create an infrastructure for training and funding pharmacologists. The long-term goal is for the African continent to attain the necessary pharmacological knowledge and resources to address the disease-related issues affecting the population.

Future directions

The early years of the 21st century will be focused on integrating basic and clinical research into a continuous spectrum of investigation to implement translational medicine techniques more quickly. The 9th World Conference on Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics in Québec City, Canada was the last IUPHAR meeting to present clinical pharmacology separately. The WorldPharma2010 - World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology in Copenhagen, Denmark on July 17–23, 2010 was the first completely integrated meeting. The expectation of merging these different approaches to the same discipline is to more quickly discover, devise, test and introduce new or higher quality therapeutics for humans.

Educational components will be emphasized for both existing pharmacology programs through an international initiative in Integrative and Organ Systems Pharmacology, as well as increasing and enhancing pharmacology training in developing countries through the Education Section. This topic will be a central theme of the 17th World Congress of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (WCP2014) being held July 13–18, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. The next congress will be held in Kyoto, Japan in 2018.

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