David Colquhoun is a pharmacologist notable for his insights into the biophysics of drug–receptor interactions of single ion channels. Using mathematical approaches, David pioneered the accurate interpretation of recordings from single ion channels, predicting that channel opening events occur in bursts and shedding light on the ‘binding–gating’ problem.
Transmission of an impulse from a nerve cell involves the binding of a transmitter chemical to a channel spanning the neighbouring cell’s surface membrane. This opens the channel, allowing ions to flow through to initiate an electrical impulse. David’s research developed the stochastic theory necessary to interpret recordings of the interactions between these channels and pharmaceutical compounds.
By measuring their efficiency in opening channels, David’s analytical techniques enable scientists to tease out the strength with which drugs bind to ion channels. This measurement is fundamental for rational drug design. Lately, David has focused on his blog, DC’s Improbable Science, which explains the nature of good evidence to a wide audience. Commenting on alternative medicine, statistics and university policy, it has received over 4.2 million views.
Professor of Pharmacology and Honorary Director of the Wellcome Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology at University College London, Department Of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London (UCL)
Interests and expertise
Higher education policy,
Ligand-gated ion channels,
Maximum likelihood estimation,