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Pharmacology and Neuroscience Research group

Pharmacology and Neuroscience Research group

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

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Pharmacology and Neuroscience Research group

The Pharmacology and Neuroscience Research Group has a common interest in the neurobiology and treatment of brain disorders. The group is located within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences and has close collaborations with the DMU Bioanalytical Chemistry Research Group, with Universities of Oxford, Newcastle and Leicester, as well as with international institutions in Sweden, France, Germany, Romania, Italy and China.

By using a range of state-of-art molecular biological, neurochemical, behavioural and electrophysiological techniques, the group is particularly interested in investigating pathophysiological mechanisms and new therapeutic targets for neurological and psychiatric disorders including depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Niemann-Pick disease type C, and pain disorders.

Recent highlights of the group include a number of publications in leading scientific journals demonstrating new mechanisms of action by drugs used in the treatment of ADHD, depression and schizophrenia.



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.

Group leader

Dr Tyra Zetterstrom                           

T: +44 (0)116 250 6477      

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.”
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