Prof Clare Stanford
Emeritus Professor of Neuropharmacology
Div of Biosciences
Faculty of Life Sciences
- Joined UCL
- 1st Jul 1984
The so-called 'monoamine neurotransmitters', which include dopamine, noradrenaline, adrenaline and serotonin, are released from neurones in both the brain and peripheral nervous system. The function of the monoamines is not clear but they are thought to have a crucial role in arousal, emotion and cognition. Certainly, drugs that augment the effects of monoamines on their target tissues are used to treat psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. The major aim of our research is to explain how the brain regulates monoamine transmission and to increase our understanding of their influence on mood and behaviour.
The main focus of our research has been to understand the role of monoamine transmitters in the therapeutic effects of antidepressants. Our key findings revealed that antidepressants (even drugs known as ‘Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors’) actually modify the function of all the monoamines in vivo, regardless of their selectivity in vitro. This fundamental shift in emphasis, from serotonin as a key factor in ‘antidepression’, to the importance of interactions between all three monoamines, and their downstream consequences, is still a major topic of research in this field.
We have also carried out a comparison of changes in monoamine transmission induced by the appetite suppressant (and the monoamine-releasing agent), d amphetamine, and the reuptake inhibitor, sibutramine. We have characterised not only differences in the amplitude of the monoamine response to these two drugs but also compared the latency of the monoamine response to these compounds. It turns out that the response to d amphetamine is fast and short-lived whereas the response to sibutramine is slow in onset but prolonged. These differences explain why d-amphetamine is addictive whereas sibutramine is not. This work made a vital contribution to an application for a product licence submitted (to the FDA and, subsequently, worldwide) by our industrial sponsor. Until recently, sibutramine was the only centrally-acting drug licensed for treatment of obesity.
Major contributions to the teaching of neuropharmacology (especially psychopharmacology) to second and third year BSc and BMS students.
The organiser and sole lecturer for a third-year course in Psychopharmacology (comprising more than 20 lectures in topics ranging from stress and psychotic disorders to neuroethics
Contributions to the MSc Neuroscience course, focussing on the neurobiology of mood and behaviour
Founder and Course Director of the British Association for Psychopharmacology Certificate in Preclinical Psychopharmacology
Clare Stanford graduated in physiology from UCL and then carried out research for a DPhil in the University Laboratory of Physiology at Oxford University. She was awarded a university scholarship to enable her to stay on as a postdoc and to continue her research on the regulation of central and peripheral noradrenergic transmission. This was followed by a Demonstratorship in the same department and her appointment as the first woman Fellow of Exeter College. She has held a visiting research fellowship at the University of Bergen, Norway and was appointed to a tenured lectureship in pharmacology at The Middlesex Hospital Medical School. She moved to this department in 1987 and was promoted to Reader in Experimental Psychopharmacology in 1998. She is currenlty Professor of Translational Neuropharmacology. She was a member of the Senate and also of Council of the University of London where she served as chairman of the Subject Area Board in Life Sciences for six years. She has edited four books, contributed nearly 20 chapters to other books and has been a senior author on over 80 peer-reviewed papers.
As well as being a Past President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP), she is the immediate Past President (and Hon Lifetime Member) of the Laboratory Animal Science Association (LASA). She is an Editor of several international journals (British Journal of Pharmacology, Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, Journal of Psychopharmacology, International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology) and has served on the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs) grant panel. She is Chairman of a working group, set up by the NC3Rs, to promote improvements in experimental design and data analysis in whole animal science.
Clare was also responsible for setting up a series of training (CPD) modules, leading to the BAP Certificate in Preclinical Psychopharmacology. This pioneering and highly successful programme (now in its 15 th year and emulated by other societies) attracts delegates from all over Europe, as well as the UK. It is aimed at postgraduate students, postdoctoral workers and established scientists moving into psychopharmacology from other disciplines (for more information, see: www.bap.org.uk).
She is invited regularly to give talks on welfare and ethics in psychopharmacology but also often talks to schools and other groups (e.g., clinicians, the police and the DANA centre) to encourage public interest in psychopharmacology. She has made many media appearances including ITV, Channel 4, Sky TV, Radio 4 and the World Service