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Psychoactive Drugs in Forensic Medicine

This course is fully booked (no waiting list)

Psychoactive drugs are at the heart of forensic medicine and forensic chemistry: Suspicious deaths may be the result of intoxication and seized illicit drugs must be analyzed to assist law enforcement authorities and to monitor developments in the illicit drug market. Novel drugs in the drug market may have varying abuse potential and exhibit a particular pharmacology/toxicology that can warrant control or may even have potential in treating disease.

The course will provide an understanding of neurobiology and neuropharmacology in order to evaluate the toxicology and action of psychoactive drugs. We will use real world cases to demonstrate how suspicious deaths are investigated and how analytical tools can be used to identify the toxic agent. The course will also demonstrate how mass spectrometry based metabolomics can be used to evaluate psychoactive drug action. The line between medicine and illicit drugs can be blurred and the course will introduce the student to the background for the classification of controlled substances as well as examine the recent use of hallucinogens as therapeutics in psychiatry.

The course will cover:

  • The neurobiological basis of addiction, hallucination and psychostimulation.
  • Historical, legal and ethical considerations for controlled substances.
  • Detection of psychotropic drugs in forensic medicine.
  • Changes in the intoxicated brain studied by LC-MS based metabolomics.
  • Opioids, psychostimulants and hallucinogens as therapeutics and drugs of abuse.

Exam info and full course description

Exam info and full course description can be found in the course catalogue.

Please notice that this course is passed by active participation, and you will not receive a specific grade. Only pass/fail will appear on your transcript.

Admission Requirements

Course specific:

A bachelor degree within health sciences.
A fundamental understanding of biochemistry and pharmacology is required corresponding to the level obtained on the bachelor’s degree in medicine. Insight into basic neuroscience or neurobiology is advantageous.
The course is aimed at masters students within medicine, molecular medicine, pharmacology, molecular biology, medicinal chemistry etc.


Exchange Students: nomination from your home university

Freemovers: documentation for English Language proficiency

You can read more about the admission here.