University of Nottingham


General description
The University of Nottingham has over 32,000 students and 1,400 academic staff. In the 2014 Research Assessment Exercise, 97 per cent of research at Nottingham was judged to be of an ‘international standard’ and 80 per cent ‘world-leading’. The University of Nottingham is ranked 8th in the 2019 QS World Rankings for Pharmacy and Pharmacology. The Cell Signalling Research Group (CSRG) in the School of Life Sciences has formed the Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE) with the University of Birmingham and has a world-class reputation for the study of GPCRs and RTKs. There are 14 PIs (and over 50 researchers) in Nottingham engaged in molecular pharmacology and drug discovery. They are applying single cell and single molecule imaging techniques, medicinal chemistry and in vivo cardiovascular approaches to the study of ligand-receptor binding, intracellular signalling and protein-protein interactions involving GPCRs and RTKs.

Key research facilities, infrastructures and equipment
The Cell Signalling Group (School of Life Sciences) and COMPARE have state-of-the-art facilities for the imaging of single cells and have developed novel fluorescent ligand technologies for the study of GPCRs at the single cell and single molecule level. Dedicated equipment includes four Zeiss confocal systems (LSM880, LSM710, Confocor 3, Exciter), a DeltaVision for fast widefield deconvolution imaging, and facilities for high content screening (Image Express Ultra), TIRF, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, FLIM, FRET and bimolecular fluorescence complementation. It also has an Olympus LV200 bioluminescence microscope, a PhaseFocus LiveCyte and access to Super-resolution microscopes in both Nottingham and Birmingham (via COMPARE). The group has also recently installed facilities for STED and camera-based FCS. CSRG has extensive experience and facilities for GPCR molecular pharmacology, in vivo cardiovascular monitoring and drug discovery.

Project members

Prof. Dr. Steve Hill – is Professor of Molecular Pharmacology in the School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham. He is Co-Director of the University of Birmingham and University of Nottingham Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE] and President of the British Pharmacological Society. Steve obtained his first degree in pharmacology at the University of Bristol and his PhD (pharmacology) at the University of Cambridge. His research has concentrated mainly on the molecular pharmacology of cell surface receptors (particularly G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs)) but more recently receptor tyrosine kinases. He joined the University of Nottingham in 1981 and was subsequently promoted to Professor of Molecular Pharmacology (1995). He became Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences in 2008 (until 2013). He was a founding director of the University of Nottingham spin-out company CellAura Technologies Ltd that provided fluorescent ligands to the scientific community until it was acquired by HelloBio in 2014. Steve is also a previous Chair of the MRC Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board. Steve is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia. He was recently awarded the 2018 Vice Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Nottingham and the 2019 Ariens Award from the Dutch Pharmacological Society for outstanding contributions to pharmacology.

Prof. Dr. Meritxell Canals – did her PhD research at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Barcelona, Spain. After her PhD she was a postdoctoral research associate in the laboratories of Prof Graeme Milligan (University of Glasgow, UK) and Profs Rob Leurs and Martine Smit (VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands). In 2010 she was awarded a Monash Fellowship to establish her independent line of research at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. In 2018 Dr Canals was recruited to the University of Nottingham, where she is now professor of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology. She has 15 years of experience in GPCR research. Her work focuses on understanding how the location of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) influences their signalling and, eventually, their physiological responses. In 2015, Dr Canals was awarded the Novartis Prize from the British Pharmacological Society and in 2019 she received the inaugural Academy of Medical Sciences.

Dr. Steve Briddon – is a molecular pharmacologist with 20 years’ experience in the GPCR field. Following a PhD in Clinical Pharmacology and a post-doctoral position in Pharmacology at the University of Oxford, Steve was appointed to his current position in 2000. He is currently Principal Research Fellow and academic lead for the Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors. He has substantial experience in standard molecular pharmacological techniques and a range of advanced imaging techniques. In particular, over the last 15 years, he has developed quantitative imaging approaches to study GPCR pharmacology at the subcellular level. This has predominantly focussed on developing the use of Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) to quantify ligand-receptor interactions in living cells. His work is currently supported by the EU, the MRC and the BBSRC. His initial work using FCS on adenosine receptors led to the award of the Bill Bowman travelling lectureship from the BPS in 2009. He is a fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society and a previous chair and current member of their Life Sciences Committee.

Dr. Laura Kilpatrick obtained a BSc in Biology from the University of York in 2005. In 2007, she undertook a MSc in Cancer Immunotherapy from the University of Nottingham, investigating the molecular mechanisms of cancer development. In October 2012, she was awarded an AJ Clark studentship from the British Pharmacological Society to undertake doctoral studies at the CSRG, to use bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) to constrain GPCRs, in order to probe the functional consequences of dimerisation. She was awarded her PhD in November 2014 and has since been a postdoctoral research fellow at the CSRG, chiefly characterising the molecular pharmacology of receptor tyrosine kinases, to gain insights into ligand binding, downstream signalling and their interaction with GPCRs. She is well versed in the use of bioluminescence energy transfer (BRET) alongside quantitative fluorescence-based technologies and advanced imaging techniques such as super resolution microscopy and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy.

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