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Research focusing on Neuropharmacology and Cell Signalling in health and disease.

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The Pharmacology research Group uses in vitro and in vivo models to investigate the effect of drugs on body systems.

The research focuses in two areas:

  • Neuropharmacology
  • Cell signaling in health and disease




The neuropharmacology group is interested in the action of drugs on brain function, with particular reference to how the brain changes structurally and functionally in response to drugs used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders including: depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and dementia.

For these purposes we are using a range of molecular techniques for the investigation of genes, proteins and neurotransmitters implicated in the mode of action of psychotropic drugs, as well as in vivo electrophysiological techniquesto investigate their effects on neuronal activity.

Our current research focuses on the following fundamental questions:

  • Why is there a delay in the onset of therapeutic effect by antidepressant drugs?
  • What is the role of glutamate-dopamine interactions in the pathology and treatment of schizophrenia?
  • What are the long-term effects of psychotropic drugs including psychostimulants and Ecstasy (MDMA) on the developing brain?
  • How treatments that alter cognitive function can modulate neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex and related areas.

Cell signalling

Work in the cell signalling laboratory investigates the regulation and function of mammalian cells in the context of health and disease. The research involves studies on cells in culture, both primary cells and cell lines, and uses a wide variety of molecular, cell biology and biochemical techniques. In addition to the usual molecular/biochemical research resources, the facility includes a Leica confocal microscope and BD research flow cytometer. The major, broadly-stated research questions being addressed by current projects include:

  • Liver function – How are the main liver cells (hepatocytes) controlled by cell surface receptors. Our work focuses mainly on responses to stimulation of the P2Y family of G protein-coupled receptors, and the epidermal growth factor (EGF) tyrosine kinase receptor. Responses measured include the receptor signaling to control glucose-glycogen balance and progression through the cell cycle.
  • Deficient lysosomal breakdown of lipids and glycosphingolipid (GSL) storage diseases -How does the storage of lipids lead to disease?
    What are the normal functions of the lipids that accumulate?
  • In conjunction with Professor Adrian Slater (Biomolecular Technology Group, School of Allied Health), the reported hepatotoxicity of the popular medicinal herbal plant, Black Cohosh is to be investigated in a new joint initiative commencing in April 2012.”


Contact Us


Lead by:    Dr Tyra Zetterstrom|                           

T:               +44 (0)116 250 6477      

E:               tscz@dmu.ac.uk|

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