John Hughes’s research focuses on molecular neurobiology, opioid peptides and the role of both in drug abuse. In 1975, he was the first to show that morphine-like substances that affect our perception of pain and emotions are naturally produced by the body. This discovery triggered a transformation in the understanding of how and why psychoactive drugs affect our behaviour.
He continues to carry out pioneering work in the opioid field, addressing previously unresolved problems. In particular, John has developed interesting new ligands and peptoids — small molecules designed to mimics peptides — for use in studying the effects of drugs and is working on ways in which the analgesic action of morphine can be retained without the development of tolerance.
John has served on a number of scientific advisory boards, including as Chairman of the research committee of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Foundation. He has edited many scientific and medical journals, and his own research has been published in journals such as Nature, British Journal of Pharmacology and Brain Research.