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Fellows Directory

Alan North

Professor Alan North FMedSci FRS


Elected: 1995


Alan North applied molecular and cellular approaches to physiology, pharmacology and neuroscience. He investigated drug and transmitter actions on single cells and single ion channel proteins. His work has improved our understanding of the physiology of the enteric nervous system and several regions of the central nervous system, with relevance to the mode of action of opiates and other psychoactive drugs.

In early work on the neurons of the gastrointestinal tract, Alan discovered that the inhibitory actions of opioids and the excitatory actions of other peptides are due to the opening and closing of different subsets of potassium channels. He then showed that similar mechanisms underlie the effects of these and many other transmitters throughout the mammalian central nervous system. More recently, he focused on elucidating the molecular operation of P2X receptors — ion channels opened by the binding of extracellular adenosine 5’-triphosphate.

Alan was President of the Physiological Society, and Editor of Molecular Pharmacology, The Journal of Physiology, and The Journal of Neuroscience. He is a former Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Pharmacology.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Drug receptors, Ion channels, Opiates, P2X receptors