How to become a pharmacologist: Mah Hussain's story

What's your job?

I’m a scientist, or a pharmacologist to be more precise. Pharmacology is the science of medicine or other substances and their effect on living systems.

I currently work part-time as a science teacher, inspiring school-age children and supervising university students.

A case study from the Royal Society
Mah is a biker, a rock music fan and a pharmacologist

How did you get started in this role?

My childhood began in Pakistan and ended in Hull, where I was the only student of Asian heritage at my comprehensive school.

I went to university and did a degree in pharmacology. Then I worked in industry as a formulation scientist and for a university as a social scientist. After that, I decided to use my scientific expertise to set up my own ethical skincare business. I used my garage as the warehouse, my kitchen as the formulation department and my phone and email as the customer relations department.

What inspires you?

It’s all about exploration. I was really into Star Trek as a kid and did a lot of role play with my brother.

Science is like being Captain Kirk, but instead of exploring different planets, there’s so much to explore here on Earth.


I did A-levels in Chemistry, Biology and Physics, a degree in Pharmacology and masters degree in Health Service Research and a PhD in Social Science.

Best thing about your job

The fascinating thing about science is that you can apply it to cooking, to make-up, to cleaning - basically anything. It gives you tools to do so many different things. It’s great fun. If I was born again, I’d be a scientist all over again.

Top tips

  • Be brave enough to explore different ideas
  • Expect to work long hours, so feeling passionate about your work is a must
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation, as it can be very stressful
  • Get your basic education and focus on doing well in your core subjects
  • Don’t be afraid to change your career.

I'm a biker, a rock music fan and a pharmacologist. We live in a fluid world and it is okay to change your mind about what you want to do for a living - at any age.

What to expect if you want to be a pharmacologist

  • Salary: From £25,000 to £80,000
  • Working hours: On average 38-40 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to be a pharmacologist?

  • Entry requirements: You'll usually need 2 to 3 A-levels for a degree and a science degree in a relevant subject. Pharmacology is the most relevant subject, although a degree in biochemistry, physiology, or microbiology may also be accepted by employers.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

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