Chairs, bells and students - a novel method to simulate and teach molecular interactions in pharmacology


  • Alan Richardson Keele University
  • Katie Maddock Keele University


Agonist, Antagonist, Kinetics, Receptor, Simulation


Background: Pharmacy education requires an understanding of the fundamental principles of molecular pharmacology. Among these, abstract concepts such as affinity, association and dissociation rates and partial agonism may be difficult to demonstrate to students.

Aims: We wished to devise a method to simulate drug-receptor interactions that could readily be used in teaching sessions and that would promote student engagement.

Methods: A role play was carried out in which drugs (represented by students) associate with receptors (represented by chairs) and cause signal transduction (represented by a bell ringing). By varying the parameters associated with the role play (e.g. time taken to sit in the chair and how often the bell is rung) fundamental principles of drug-receptor interactions could be modelled.

Results: The simulation was considered by the students to improve their understanding of the intended learning outcomes.

Conclusion: This simulation offers a method to introduce students to drug-receptor interactions in a manner that promotes their engagement. 

Author Biographies

Alan Richardson, Keele University

School of Pharmacy

Katie Maddock, Keele University

School of Pharmacy


Harris, J. R., Helyer, R. J. & Lloyd, E. (2011) Using high- fidelity human patient simulators to teach physiology. Medical Education, 45, 1159-1160.

Hassan, Z., Dilorenzo, A. & Sloan, P. (2010) Teaching

clinical opioid pharmacology with the Human Patient Simulator. Journal of Opioid Management, 6, 125-32.

Skau, K. (2004) Teaching Pharmacodynamics: An Introductory Module On Learning Dose-Response Relationships. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 68.




How to Cite

Richardson, A., & Maddock, K. (2013). Chairs, bells and students - a novel method to simulate and teach molecular interactions in pharmacology. Pharmacy Education, 13. Retrieved from



Research Article