Nick Franks is a biophysicist whose work has overturned conventional assumptions about how anaesthetics work. Until the 1990s, anaesthetists assumed that such drugs interacted non-specifically with cell membranes. Nick and his colleague Bill Lieb showed instead that they target a small number of specific receptors.
Exploring the detail of these interactions, amongst many other discoveries, Nick has revealed the precise location where the injectable anaesthetic propofol binds to the GABAA receptor. Such advances should lead to more informed use of existing anaesthetics as well as opening pathways to the discovery of better ones.