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Fellows Directory

Jeffrey Watkins

Professor Jeffrey Watkins FMedSci FRS


Elected: 1988


Jeffrey Watkins has made outstanding contributions to the understanding of excitatory amino acid neurotransmission in the vertebrate central nervous system. His initial studies of the structure–activity relationships of excitatory and inhibitory amino acids was followed primarily with the design, synthesis and testing of agonists, which have selective actions at membrane receptors activated by naturally occurring excitatory amino acids.

Together with investigations of the membrane and ionic events underlying such excitation, his findings have led to the recognition, differentiation and general acceptance of several types of central excitatory amino acid receptor, and to the use of selective antagonists as aids to identifying glutamate as the excitatory amino acid transmitter of particular central pathways. He is particularly noted for the characterisation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) type of glutamate receptor.

Jeffrey’s recent work has been fundamental to the development of new centrally active therapeutic agents for the management of neurological disorders arising either directly from disturbances of amino acid neurotransmission or indirectly as a consequence of a now well recognised neurotoxic effect of excitatory amino acids.

Interests and expertise


Brain, Central nervous system, Excitatory amino acid receptors, Glutamate, NMDA, N-methyl-D-aspartate, Spinal cord, Synaptic receptors