UCL Division of Biosciences

Prof Andrea Townsend-Nicholson

Prof Andrea Townsend-Nicholson

Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Structural & Molecular Biology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Mar 2001

Research summary

I am interested in understanding how extracellular signals are transduced into intracellular responses. My research is strongly focused on enhancing our understanding of the molecular basis of health and disease and my work focuses primarily on elucidating the role of cell surface receptors in these processes. We use molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, cellular imaging, cell signalling and molecular pharmacology to study purinergic, glutamatergic, GABAergic and dopaminergic responses in the central and autonomic nervous systems and in the cardiovascular system.  I am also interested in the development of new technologies to help gain a more refined understanding of existing cellular systems and to use these methods, in the case of bioelectrosprays, to generate new tissues and biological structures from individual cells for therapeutic benefit.

Teaching summary

 I am the Head of Teaching for Molecular Biosciences, which is responsible for UCL's undergraduate degree programmes in Biochemistry, Biotechnology and Molecular Biology. My teaching interests extend to the development and use of novel technology and assessment methodologies to enhance student learning.  I teach on BIOC1001/1008/1009, BIOC2001, BIOC2008, BIOC3008 and supervise final year undergraduate literature and laboratory-based research projects and MRes and MSc postgraduate research projects.


Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow |
Higher Education Academy
Doctorate, Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy | 2009
Universite Louis Pasteur (Strasbourg I)
Doctorate, Doctor of Science | 1990
University of Toronto
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1986


I obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Genetics and Molecular Biology, with a Major in Zoology and (somehow) a Minor in Religion, from the University of Toronto in 1986. I subsequently studied at the Laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire des Eucaryotes (LGME) in Strasbourg France, investigating the establishment of the dorsoventral polarity axis in Drosophila melanogaster. I obtained my doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the Université Louis Pasteur in 1990. From 1991 to 1996, I moved from transcriptional studies to cell signalling, studying mammalian G protein-coupled receptors as a postdoctoral fellow in the Neurobiology Division of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Sydney, Australia). During this time, I cloned and characterised several adenosine receptor subtypes and learned about the benefits of wide-brimmed hats and factor 50 sunscreen. Having started my research career at University College (University of Toronto) in Canada, I am now at University College London, where I was appointed as a member of academic staff in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in 2001, following three and a half years of postdoctoral study in the Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology and eighteen months as a British Heart Foundation Intermediate Research Fellow in the Department of Physiology.