To see all upcoming and previously recorded webinars, please visit our Webinar Listing (member login required).

Nonmembers: To register for upcoming SPS Webinars, you must either become a Member ($125 USD for Individual Membership and $62.50 USD for Student or Retired Membership) which includes unlimited access to all webinars; or register as a nonmember and pay a fee to participate ($50 per webinar). If you wish to register as a nonmember, please proceed to the Meetings Calendar, find the webinar you wish to register for, and click the link that says “nonmember registration”.

If you wish to become a member, please visit the Membership section to sign up.

Regulatory Agency Employees: Please contact SPS Headquarters to activate your complimentary membership and access to SPS Webinars.

Diplomate in Safety Pharmacology (DSP) Certification Exam

The 2021 DSP Exam will be held in an online format!

Registration Deadline: September 1, 2021
Exam Date: September 20, 2021—Exam will be held online


The Safety Pharmacology Society (SPS) is an international nonprofit organization that promotes knowledge, development, application, and training in safety pharmacology—a distinct scientific discipline that integrates the best practices of pharmacology, physiology, and toxicology.

There is a need from the industry and regulators for a certification process to identify and evaluate knowledge of professionals involved in the practice of safety pharmacology. The Safety Pharmacology Society has established a certification exam which asks questions across a range of subject domains relevant and important to the field of safety pharmacology.

The advantages of establishing a certification for safety pharmacologists is that it stimulates recognition of the discipline in the drug development community and with regulators; encourages toxicologists and other professionals who wish to diversify their experience and professional expertise to participate in SPS activities such as poster presentations and publications in safety pharmacology.


  • Register for the Exam, and pay the examination fee: $250 (SPS Member); $375 (Nonmember)
  • At the time of registration have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in science
  • Have at least two years of relevant experience in positions involving safety pharmacology
  • Have at least one poster relevant to safety pharmacology as first author presented at a recognized scientific meeting; or first author on a publication relevant to safety pharmacology in a peer reviewed journal


  • Examination registration deadline is September 1
  • Exam results are sent to candidates no later than the January following the exam

The Certification Exam

Certification is achieved by receiving a passing score on the DSP Certification Exam. The exam will contain approximately 200 multiple choice questions and is conducted in English. Each question will have five answer options and there is only one correct answer choice for each question. The exam is given online and consists of two parts, each part contains 100 questions with a short break between each part.

The exam will cover the following subject domains within safety pharmacology (distributions are approximate):

  • Regulatory guidelines (10%)
  • Safety pharmacology systems
    • Cardiovascular safety pharmacology (30%)
      • Electrophysiology (20%)
      • Hemodynamy and contractility (10%)
    • Neurological safety pharmacology (20%)
      • General neurological evaluations (15%)
      • Drug abuse potential (2%)
      • Seizure liabilities (3%)
    • Respiratory safety pharmacology (15%)
    • Renal safety pharmacology (5%)
    • Gastrointestinal safety pharmacology (5%)
    • Other systems (5%)
  • Cross discipline knowledge (10%)
    • Physiology
    • Pharmacokinetics
    • Toxicology
    • Dosing formulation and analytical methods
    • Immunology
    • Statistics
    • Pathology

Want to see the type of questions on the exam? Take our sample exam and see how you do!

  • Dates/timing of the exam will be released when registration opens.
  • Candidates must show proof of identity, preregister in advance of the exam date, and sign a waiver prior to taking the exam.
  • All exams are overseen by an online or in-person proctor.
  • All tablets and cell phones are prohibited to use while taking the exam.
  • Breaks will be given during the exam; break schedules will be released when registration opens.

If you fail to appear for the exam on your schedule date, there is no refund, and the fee is nontransferable to future years. If you miss the exam due to illness or fail to appear, you will be eligible to register for the next scheduled exam but will be required to pay the appropriate exam fee upon registration.

Please note: Inclusion of a resource on the reference list is in no way a promotion or endorsement of any product, company, publisher, or author.

Suggested Study Materials include the following:

DSP Webinar series: Focused Reviews in Safety Pharmacology (Part 1, 2, 3) on Vimeo

Suggested Textbooks:

  • Cardiovascular Dynamics, Robert F. Rushmer
  • Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts, Richard E. Klabunde
  • Hayes’ Principles and Methods of Toxicology, A. Wallace Hayes and Claire L. Kruger
  • Animal models in Toxicology, Shayne C. Gad
  • Safety Pharmacology in Pharmaceutical Development and Approval, Shayne C. Gad
  • Principles of Neural Science, Eric Kandel, Thomas Jessell, Steven Siegelbaum
  • Neuroscience, 6th Edition, Dale Purves, et al.
  • Casserett & Doull’s Toxicology, Curtis D. Klaassen
  • Advances in Pharmacology Series, S.J. Enna, et al.
  • Guyton and Hall textbook of Medical Physiology, 13th Edition, John E. Hall, PhD, 2016
  • Principles of Safety Pharmacology (Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology), Michael K. Pugsley and Michael Curtis, Editors, 2015
  • Nonclinical Assessment of Abuse Potential for New Pharmaceuticals, Carrie Markgraf, Thomas Hudzik, and David Compton, Editors, 2015
  • Electrocardiography of Laboratory Animals, Jeffrey W. Richig and Meg M. Sleeper, 2013
  • Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Stephen Ettinger and Edward C. Feldman, 7th Edition (earlier editions may not have the same chapters)
    • Chapters on Electrocardiographic Techniques; Echocardiography; Syncope; Pathophysiology of Heart Failure; Electrocardiography and Cardiac Arrhythmias; Neurologic Examination and Neuroanatomic Diagnosis; Vestibular Disease; and Clinical Approach and Laboratory Evaluation of Renal Disease

Scientific articles related to the subject domains presented above are considered relevant study materials, including but not limited to the following journals:

  • Journal of Pharmacological & Toxicological Methods
  • Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology
  • British Journal of Pharmacology
  • Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology
  • Journal of Applied Toxicology
  • Cardiovascular Toxicology
  • Expert Opinion on Drug Safety
  • Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology
  • Fundamental and Clinical Pharmacology

For a full list of suggested scientific reference articles to assist in preparation for the exam, please view the DSP Key References .

Certification is achieved by receiving a passing score on the DSP Certification Exam. Candidates are required to complete all parts of the exam. Successful candidates are certified and accepted as Diplomates in Safety Pharmacology (DSP). The scores or subject domains for the sections passed or failed are not reported to candidates. A participant failing to achieve the minimal score to pass the examination will be invited to take the certification examination at his/her convenience at the next exam date. Exam results will be emailed to candidates from SPS Headquarters staff no later than Exam results are sent to candidates no later than the January following the exam.

Candidates may appeal the results of their exam by requesting a review by the Certification Committee. The appeal will be reviewed by the Committee and the score for the candidate’s exam will be re-calculated and reviewed for accuracy/errors. The Committee will provide a resolution to the appeal within 30 days. Candidates should send all appeals to SPS Headquarters.

Significance of Certification

Certification by the Safety Pharmacology Society indicates only that a person has satisfied the specific requirements of the DSP certification process and program, and is not a guarantee, warranty, endorsement or promise by the SPS of the competency, quality of services provided, accuracy, or of any other particular result with respect to the services rendered or products used by any certified individual. Information about Diplomates is provided by the Diplomates themselves, and the SPS, its officers, directors, employees, volunteers, agents, and authorized contractors/representatives are not responsible for any incorrect or outdated information about Diplomates, including their office addresses or any other contact information. The SPS does not assume and specifically disclaims any duty or obligation to the public for the services rendered by Diplomates, or for any information about or provided by Diplomates or any other person or entity participating in or receiving professional services from Diplomates.

For each three-year period, a renewal fee of $225 ($75 per year) must be paid when the renewal credits are submitted. The credits and payment are due no later than December 31 of the year the certification cycle expires.

  • Submit at least 15 education credits
  • Pay renewal fee ($225)

Approved Credits

All Diplomates must obtain a total of at least 15 “credits” over a three-year cycle. Diplomates are required to submit their credits every three years; Please keep all receipts and acceptance/invitation letters for the following items:

  • Publication in the field of pharmacology (10 credits/publication)
  • Attendance at the Annual SPS meeting (5 credits/meeting)
  • Invited oral presentation on a safety pharmacology topic at recognized academic institution or scientific meeting (e.g., SOT, ACT, EUROTOX, etc.) (5 credits)
  • Attendance at a scientific meeting related to safety pharmacology (e.g., SOT, ACT, EUROTOX, etc.) (3 credits/meeting)
  • Continuing Education Course at recognized meeting (in person or online) (3 credits/course)
  • First author poster presented at a recognized scientific meeting (2 credits/poster)
  • Non-first author poster presented at a recognized scientific meeting (1 credit/poster)
  • Safety Pharmacology Society Webinars (1 credit/webinar)
  • Prepare DSP Certification Exam question for consideration on future exam (1 credit/question)

Diplomates who do not pay their DSP fees and/or do not submit the appropriate credits every 3-years are at risk for revocation of their credentials. Payment of DSP fees should be completed by December 31st of the year the credential cycle expires, every 3-years, and can be completed online. Headquarters staff will follow up with delinquent payments on January 4 and give a 10-day grace period before sending the delinquent names to the Committee for review. If payment and credits are submitted before January 15th the Diplomate may retain their credentials unless further review identifies insufficient credits. If Diplomates fail to collect 15 credits during their 3-year renewal cycle, or pay their fees, the Committee will review the delinquent list and provide one final outreach to renew the Diplomate. If their outreach does not resolve the delinquent payment/credits then the Committee will revoke credentials of the individual.

Diplomates who have Legacy status are individuals who were involved in the original creation of the Certification Program but have not officially taken and passed the Exam. These individuals were granted legacy status on a one-time basis at the creation of the certification exam. Legacy individuals are expected to pay their DSP fees and submit credits on a 3-year renewal cycle if they wish to keep their credentials. Individuals who have Legacy status and do not pay fees and/or submit credits will face the same process outlined above in the “Failure to Maintain” section.

Questions are written by the DSP Certification Committee which is composed of SPS Diplomates and subject matter experts. Nomination to the Committee is voted periodically by the DSP Certification Committee as volunteers are needed. The Committee will be composed of at least three Diplomates. The Committee should include at least at one member with:

  • Expertise in cardiovascular safety pharmacology
  • Expertise in central nervous system safety pharmacology
  • Expertise in respiratory safety pharmacology

Nomination to the Committee is voted periodically by the DSP Certification Committee as volunteers are needed. To be eligible for nomination to the Committee, candidates should have a minimum of 10 peer-reviewed scientific publications in the field of pharmacology including six in the field of safety pharmacology. If a candidate does not have 10 publications, she/he should submit a written summary of experiences to illustrate her/his expertise in the field of safety pharmacology. Eligibility of candidates submitting a summary of experience will be determined by an anonymous vote by the DSP Certification Committee in which nominees who receive a majority vote will be eligible to join the Committee.

The Question Database is the main repository for all questions collected, reviewed, and approved by the Committee for inclusion on DSP Certification Exams. Questions within the Database are added by both Committee members and Diplomates. Each year, the Committee will send out a “call for questions” to Diplomates and each Diplomate is encouraged to submit at least 4 new questions; all questions should include a reference. Questions submitted by Diplomates are reviewed by Committee members for clarity, relevance, and formatting. Questions that pass the review are added to the Database for use on future exams. Committee members may also create questions for review by the Committee for consideration to be added to the Database. The Committee strives to add a minimum of 100 new questions to the Database each year. After each Exam year, the Committee will review all poor performing questions and will modify or exclude them from future exams as needed to maintain clear and fair questions within the Database. Questions placed on certification exams each year are also reviewed and modified before delivery of the exam. The Question Database is housed within a secure platform which is only accessible to SPS Staff and DSP Certification Committee members. This platform allows the DSP Program to develop exams securely, efficiently, effectively, utilize psychometric reporting, and can deliver exams in-person and/or online.

Other Education Opportunities

SPS occasionally collaborates with partners to offer discounts to members for educational courses. New opportunities will be listed here when they become available

University of Wisconsin-Madison Online Courses

These courses are organized and conducted by the Division of Pharmacy Professional Development, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and taught by SPS Members!

Discount for SPS members! Contact Eric Buxton to inquire about the SPS Member discount code to use when you sign up.

Course fee: Please see the course details for applicable fees


This 100% online course on CNS pharmacology provides an intensive overview of the nervous system. The course explores the central and peripheral nervous system (CNS and PNS respectively.) Course material covers pharmacology and physiology of the nervous system. Scientists developing drugs targeting the brain are encouraged to take this course.

You will learn factors critical to drug discovery and development including:

  • diseases of the nervous system
  • pharmacological targets
  • drug abuse considerations
  • suicide assessment
  • peripheral neuropathy

This course is part of the Drug Development Certificate. It fulfills one elective. You may take this course as is or part of the certificate.

Instructors: Kristy D. Bruse, PhD, DSP, Integrated Physiology & Pharmacology Consulting, LLC, and Matthew M. Abernathy, PhD, DSP, Eli Lilly and Company.

Please visit the course site for additional information


Knowledge of the cardiovascular physiology, pharmacology, and safety is a key to moving drug projects forward. A drug development scientist must also understand cardiovascular receptor pharmacology. This course will provide pharmacological strategies for management and correction of cardiovascular diseases. You will also learn safety issues associated with the cardiovascular system. At the end of this course, you will have a cardiovascular system “toolbox” at your disposal. This will help you make smart decisions based on proven science and avoid common pitfalls.

Upon completion of the program the learner should be able to:

  • Describe the physiological regulation of the cardiovascular system and what makes it work;
  • Discuss cardiovascular receptor pharmacology;
  • Identify the actions of various pharmacological classes of drugs which are associated with the therapeutic management of different diseases;
  • Explain the drug development of novel compounds for treatment of heart disease;
  • Describe the safety assessment of non-cardiac novel compounds-bringing safe compounds to the market; and
  • Apply information in the course through case studies on drug development or post market reconsiderations (eg. Vioxx, Seldane, etc)

This course is part of the Drug Development Certificate. It fulfills one elective. You may take this course as is or part of the certificate.

Instructors: Kristy D. Bruse, PhD, DSP, Integrated Physiology & Pharmacology Consulting, LLC, Robert Kaiser, PhD, DABT, Principal Research Scientist at Minnesota Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, and Hugo M. Vargas, PhD, DSP, Amgen, Inc.

Please visit the course site for additional information