UCL Division of Biosciences

Prof Mark Farrant

Prof Mark Farrant

Professor of Neuroscience

Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2000

Research summary

My group studies signalling in the central nervous system mediated by the amino acids glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The main focus of our research is on the ionotropic receptors for these neurotransmitters – multisubunit proteins that form ligand-gated ion channels allowing the passage across the neuronal membrane of anions (GABAA receptors) or cations (AMPA- and NMDA-type glutamate receptors). Their proper function is critical for the maintenance of appropriate neuronal excitability and they are targets for many clinically important drugs. Changes in glutamate receptors are key to learning and memory, while impaired function of GABAA receptors has been implicated in the genesis or expression of numerous brain disorders, including epilepsy.

We use patch-clamp electrophysiology in combination with molecular approaches to investigate the properties of heterologously expressed recombinant receptors and to examine synaptic and non-synaptic signalling in acute brain slices and neuronal cultures from wild-type and mutant or genetically modified mice. Our group has been at the forefront of studies characterizing NMDA receptor diversity, the origin of tonic GABAA receptor-mediated inhibition, and the regulation of calcium-permeable AMPA receptors. Most recently, we have been involved in collaborative studies to develop pharmacogenetic approaches to dissect the behavioural role of defined neuronal populations and in examination of the actions of TARPs (transmembrane AMPA receptor regulatory proteins). The overall aim of our work is to improve understanding of the pharmacological and biophysical properties of GABA and glutamate receptors, the regulation of their expression, and the functional significance of their heterogeneity in relation to synapses, circuits and behaviour.


University of London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1987
University of Nottingham
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1982