UCL Division of Biosciences

Prof Alasdair Gibb

Prof Alasdair Gibb

Professor of Pharmacology

Neuro, Physiology & Pharmacology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
21st Jul 1986

Research summary

Alasdair Gibb’s research interests are in the properties of glutamate receptors and synaptic transmission in the central nervous system (CNS). These are by far the most common receptors involved in fast, excitatory, synaptic transmission between central neurones. Of the two most common types of glutamate receptor, our main interest is in the NMDA receptor. The NMDA receptor generates a relatively slow synaptic current which is partly carried by calcium ions. This calcium influx into a neurone is critically involved in synaptic plasticity and integration of synaptic activity by postsynaptic density proteins such as calmodulin, calcineurin and calcium and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase.  Our experiments aim to provide a quantitative description of NMDA receptor activity and the effect of drugs on these receptors. In collaboration with Susan Jones in Cambridge we study the properties of NMDA receptors in basal ganglia neurones involved in Parkinson’s disease. In collaborations with the laboratory of Patricia Salinas at UCL we investigate the modulation of synaptic activity by Wnt proteins. The overall aim is to improve understanding of synaptic transmission in the brain.

Teaching summary

Professor Gibb is course organiser for Phar3003:Molecular Pharmacology and Phar3004:Receptor Mechanisms and teaches pharmacology to BSc students in Life Sciences, Natural Sciences and Medicinal Chemistry and to 2nd year medical students. Professor Gibb was a joint winner of the Faculty of Life Sciences Teaching Prize for 2003.

Professor Gibb is a lecturer and joint organiser of the IBRO VLTP, a UNESCO and Grass Foundation-funded programme that delivers neuroscience teaching to postgraduate students in developing countries around the world. He is currently lead organiser for the British Pharmacological Society, ‘General and Advanced Receptor Pharmacology Workshops’ which provides translational pharmacology teaching for pharmacologists working in the pharmaceutical industry. He is an annual contributor to the 'Microelectrode Techniques for Cell Physiology Workshop' held each year at the Plymouth Marine Biological Association laboratories.


University of Strathclyde
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1983
University of Strathclyde
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1980


Professor Gibb graduated in 1980 from the University of Strathclyde with a BSc joint honours degree in Biochemistry and Pharmacology. He stayed on at the University of Strathclyde to do a PhD, studying the mechanisms of action of neuromuscular blocking drugs. After doing postdoctoral research at the Australian National University in Canberra, he came to the Pharmacology Department at UCL in 1986 to take a Postdoctoral Fellowship with Professor Colquhoun and was appointed Lecturer in Pharmacology in 1990.

He is a past member of the MRC New Investigator Awards Panel, Editor and Distributing Editor of the Journal of Physiology and Coordinator of the Ion Channels Special Interest  Group of the Physiological Society, currently undertaking a second 5-year term as an Editor of the British Journal of Pharmacology and is currently associate Editor of Molecular Pharmacology and Editor in Chief of Current Opinion in Physiology. He is one of the coordinators of the Wellcome Trust 4 year PhD Programme in Neuroscience at UCL. He is currently Professor of Pharmacology and a Postgraduate Tutor in Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology at UCL.