Sue Wonnacott

Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society , Prof

  • 4 SOUTH 0.44

1994 …2020

Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are pentameric ligand-gated cation channels that as so-called because they are activated by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and the tobacco alkaloid nicotine. A gene family generates 16 subunits in mammals that combine to form a diversity of subtypes of nAChR, finely tuned for different cellular and physiological functions. The distinct subtypes that are expressed in the brain have elicited interest in understanding their roles in normal brain function and their contributions to diseases, including addiction, Alzheimers’s and Parkinson’s diseases and schizophrenia, where they are potential therapeutic targets. Although much remains to be discovered nAChRs are important modulators of synaptic activity, through the presynaptic regulation of neurotransmitter release and postsynaptic modulation of local calcium concentrations, for example. Thus nAChRs, notably the alpha7 subtype, can impact on synaptic mechanisms of information processing and memory storage such as long term potentiation.

We study the molecular and cellular mechanisms governed by nAChRs in neuronal systems, often in the context of a behavioural paradigm (such as conditioned place preference as a model of drug-paired learning). This interdisciplinary research is highly collaborative, currently with Dr Chris Bailey (Dept of Pharmacy and Pharmacology) and Prof David Heal (RenaSci, Nottingham). We also have a long-standing interest in the discovery and characterisation of novel ligands for nAChRs, in collaboration with Prof Tim Gallagher (University of Bristol).

From 2010-2017 Prof Wonnacott was Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Science.

Education/Academic qualification

Biochemistry, Doctor of Philosophy, King's College London

19721975

Award Date: 1 Nov 1975

Biochemistry, Bachelor of Science, University College London

19681971

Award Date: 1 Jul 1971

Neurochemistry, Master of Science, King's College London

19711972

External positions

Reviews Editor, British Journal of Pharmacology

2020 → …

Parkinson's UK College of Experts, Parkinson's Disease Society

20192022

Advanced Grant Panel, European Research Council

20162021

Studentship Panel, NC3Rs

20162018

Reader for L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Fellowships.

20162019

Senior Editor, British Journal of Pharmacology

20122018

Keywords

  • neuroscience
  • nicotine
  • addiction
  • receptors
  • brain

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