UCL Division of Biosciences

Prof Jonathan Fry

Prof Jonathan Fry

Emeritus Professor

Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Aug 1979

Research summary

Steroid hormones have long been known to enter the mammalian nervous system to influence its development and function. More recently, some steroids have also been shown to be present in brain tissue independently of peripheral endocrine sources, the so-called neurosteroids. Altogether, these brain steroids are of profound physiological significance and apart from well-established sites of action through transcription factors are also known to have more rapid non-genomic effects at neurotransmitter receptors, such as those for γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate as well as σ-receptors and voltage-gated ion channels.

Despite the above background, little is known of the actual steroid content of the brain, of the relative contributions from peripheral versus central sources or of the metabolic pathways for steroid activation and inactivation in this tissue. Our research is focused on these issues. We have developed procedures for the extraction and fractionation of free steroids and their sulphate esters from brain tissue. For unequivocal identification, these steroids are then derivatised and analysed by gas capillary chromatography-electron impact mass spectrometry (in collaboration with Dr John W. Honour, Dept. of Chemical Pathology, UCLH). Routine measurements employ radioimmunoassays. Radiolabelled steroids are also employed to investigate steroid metabolism both in vitro and in vivo.

Teaching summary

In addition to teaching Physiology to BSc and MBBS students I also took a lead in the development of and continue an active role in the delivery of the Natural Sciences BSc/MSci programme here at UCL. This programme enables students to follow courses to an advanced level in both the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.



University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ04 - Recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow | 2014
University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow | 2007
University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ09 - Other UK accreditation or qualification in teaching in the higher education sector | 2001
University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1977
University of Cambridge
Other higher degree, Master of Arts | 1976
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 1972


After graduating BA in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge in 1972, I stayed there for a further three years studying for a PhD at the Institute of Animal Physiology, Babraham. I then held a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, Munich for three years and spent just under a year at the University of Bristol before joining the Department of Physiology (now Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology) at UCL in 1979.