Molecular Pharmacology & Drug Design

The Molecular Pharmacology & Drug Design group studies a family of receptors called G protein-coupled receptors. Receptors are proteins that convey changes in a cell’s environment so that it can respond in an appropriate manner. For example, during the ‘fight or flight’ response, an adrenergic receptor on the heart will respond to increased levels of the circulating hormone, adrenaline, to increase cardiac output. Because they respond to minute-to-minute changes in the cell’s external environment, they are subject to an exquisite set of controls in both space and time. For this and many other reasons, this family of proteins is the most successful source of current drug targets (e.g. treatments of high blood pressure, psychiatric disorders, pain, clotting disorders) and provide exciting potential targets for the treatment of obesity, type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer, pulmonary hypertension and many more. By combining computational, molecular and in vivo approaches, we seek to develop novel small molecule therapeutics that act through G protein-coupled receptors.

The two laboratories that make up the Molecular Pharmacology & Drug Design Group, the G Protein-Coupled Receptor Laboratory (run by Dr Angela Finch) and the Orphan Receptor Laboratory (run by Dr Nicola J Smith), work as one to create a dynamic and engaging research environment for all of their students, united by a passion for GPCRs!