Please note that this is a provisional list. The selection of modules will not be made until the start of the course. Advice will be given by the Subject Tutors on selection taking into account the interest of the student, relevance to the Research Project and the previous academic experience of the student. Some modules may be appropriate for more than one subject stream.

Pharmacology - Taught modules

Molecular Pharmacology

Receptor Mechanisms

Drug Design and Development


Synaptic Pharmacology

Pharmacology of Inflammation

Subject Stream Tutor

Dr. Talvinder Sihra, tel +44 20 7679 3296 (x33296 internal)

Research Interests

Please note that you only choose your Research Project at the start of the course following advice from the subject tutor. The information given here is just to give you a "flavour" of the options and for you to think about the topic that particularly interests you.


What is Pharmacology? Pharmacology (Gr. pharmakon, drug; logy, discourse, study) is the study of drugs - what they are, how they work and what they do. It includes the study of the manner in which the function of living tissues and organisms is modified by chemical substances and the study of the effect of chemical agents on living processes. Pharmacology is commonly subdivided into pharmacodynamics (the biological effects of drugs) and pharmacokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion), also expressed as, respectively, the effects of drugs on the body and the effect of the body on drugs.

The pharmacology stream of the Biosciences MRes programme will be hosted by the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology which is organised into the following three major research areas:

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Systems Neuroscience and Intercellular Signalling.

In Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, UCL has an outstanding history of research on receptors, ion channels and synaptic transmission following seminal contributions from Katz, Miledi, Fatt, Huxley, Young, Clark, Gaddum, Schild and Black, and many others. We have always placed major emphasis on the quantitative analysis of drug-receptor interactions and synaptic transmission. This has now evolved to the cellular and molecular analyses of membrane protein function (trafficking, signaling) and investigation of central synaptic transmission (receptor-associated molecules, neurotransmitter release, turnover of synaptic and extrasynaptic receptors). These form the cornerstones of our current research programmes.

In Systems Neuroscience, there are many facets to our research using in vivo systems-based approaches which rely on cross-cutting electrophysiological and molecular techniques. These have produced significant contributions to our understanding as to how neural networks impact on behaviour. Several of our groups are involved with pain research forming part of the Wellcome Trust Pain Consortium (a collaboration between UCL, KCL, Imperial and Oxford). At the single cell level, several groups use in vivo patch clamp recording and imaging to understand the link between single cell excitability, network activity and behaviour and learning.

Our spectrum of work on Intercellular Signalling encompasses a smaller group studying the cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems. To illustrate the diversity of this group, research focuses on transduction pathways that are involved with inflammatory reactions and allergy, as well as the mechanism by which vascular smooth muscle tone is regulated and how this controls blood flow.


Dr Marco Beato - Glycine activated channels and glycinergic synapses.

Professor Stuart Cull-Candy - Glutamate receptor channels and fast synaptic transmission in the brain.

Professor Anthony Dickenson - Pain and analgesia.

Professor Annette Dolphin - Functional studies of voltage-dependent Ca 2+ channels and interactions with G-proteins.

Professor Mark Farrant - GABA receptors and neuronal inhibition.

Dr Alasdair Gibb - Ion channel receptors and synaptic transmission.

Dr Paikan Marcaggi - Modulation of neurotransmitter release: role of endocannabinoids and transporters.

Dr Steve Marsh / Professor David Brown - Pharmacological control of neuronal excitability.

Professor Neil Millar - Molecular biology of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

Dr Guy Moss - The Structure and Function of Potassium Channels.

Dr Julie Pitcher - Regulation of G Protein-Coupled Receptor Function by the G Protein-Coupled Receptor Kinase Family.

Professor Andrew Ramage - Central neuropharmacology of autonomic regulation.

Professor Ralf Schoepfer - Neuronal Genes.

Dr Talvinder Sihra - Regulation of neurotransmitter release.

Professor Lucia Sivilotti - Ion channels in the nicotinic superfamily: nicotinic receptors and glycine receptors.

Professor Trevor Smart - Inhibitory neurotransmitter receptors: The GABA receptor family, Molecular properties and Regulation.

Dr Clare Stanford - Function and pharmacology of monoamine neurotransmitters.

Dr Martin Stocker - Function and regulation of potassium channels.

Dr Paola Vergani - Molecular mechanisms of the Cystic Fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR).

Dr Dean Willis - Immunopharmacology of inflammation. 

Examples of previous Projects done in aforementioned laboratories

· Characterization of ion channels in A549 human lung tumour cells

· Effect of Milnacipran, a Serotonin, Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitor on spinal neuronal activity in a rat model of Osteoarthritis.

· Expression of anchorless α2δ-1 subunit in dorsal root ganglion neurons

· Analysis of currents from homomeric GluA2(R)i AMPA Receptors

· Inhibtion of NMDA receptors mediated by amantadine in the substantia nigra of postnatal day 7 rats.

· An action of the anticonvulsant Retigabine on unmyelinated fibres in the rat vagus nerve

· Investigation of the Nicotinic Receptor Imidacloprid Binding Site: A Mutational Approach

· The Role of OCT3 in the Removal of 5-HT in Anaesthetised Rats.

· The Influence of Densin-180 C-terminal Residues On Its Subcellular Localization

· Using fast-cyclic voltammetry to detect monoamine release from isolated nerve terminals (synaptosomes)

· Potential role for intracellular calcium stores in glutamate release from isolated cerebrocortical nerve terminals (synaptosomes)

· Determinants of conductance in the extracellular domain of heteromeric Glycine and GABAA receptors expressed in Human embryonic Kidney-293 Cells.

· Pharmacological manipulation of the behaviour of NK1 receptor knockout mouse models of ADHD

· The development of antibodies specific to small conductance calcium activated potassium channels

· Modulation of Wild Type and ΔF508 CFTR by the cGMP pathway

· K+ channel involvement in LPS stimulated release of TNF-α from the RAW264.7 macrophage cell line

Page last modified on 03 jun 16 15:56