Professor David Poyner

David Poyner

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I graduated in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University in 1981and then stayed to do a Ph.D in the pharmacology department under the supervision of Prof. Sir Arnold Burgen. I subsequently did post-doctoral work at the National Institute for Medical Research, working with Drs Ed Hulme and Nigel Birdsall and then at the MRC Molecular Neurobiology Unit in Cambridge with Dr Mike Hanley. It was here that I first started to work on the pharmacology of calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP). I was appointed to a lectureship at Aston University in 1991 where I have continued my work on this and allied peptides.

Research interests

My chief interest is in receptors for neuropeptides, especially those for calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and adrenomedullin. CGRP is a very abundant 37 amino acid peptide with many actions ranging from vasodilation to inhibition of some of the effects of insulin on metabolism. Adrenomedullin is a related peptide; it plays a very important role in the cardiovascular system. Drugs developed from CGRP and adrenomedullin may be of benefit in a variety of conditions such as migraine, heart disease and arthritis.

Both CGRP and adrenomedullin produce their effects at G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Something like 70% of all drugs act at GPCRs; thus this family is of particular interest in drug discovery. However, the receptors for CGRP and adrenomedullin are of especial interest as they are made up of two subunits; a most unusual arrangement for GPCRs. They share a common subunit called calcitonin receptor-like receptor (CRLR or CL). This has the structure of a typical GPCR with seven transmembrane helices. However, to respond to CGRP a second protein is required, called receptor activity modifying protein 1 (RAMP1). When CL complexes with the related proteins RAMP2 or RAMP3, adrenomedullin receptors are formed.

In my laboratory we are interested in the molecular and pharmacological characterisation of CGRP and adrenomedullin receptors. Thus we wish to discover how CGRP and adrenomedullin bind to their receptors, how the receptors then activate the cells, how drugs discriminate between these receptors and what other receptors CGRP and adrenomedullin can activate besides CL/RAMP complexes.

We use a variety of techniques involving mutating receptors and expressing these in cell lines to measure binding and activation. We also look at endogenous receptors in cells and tissues. We collaborate with colleagues at Birmingham University, Auckland University and other institutes to further these studies.

Teaching Activity

I specialise in the teaching of molecular pharmacology, especially cell receptors and signal transduction. I also teach general pharamacology and physiology, cell biology and biochemistry. I teach at all levels of the programme from 1st year to M.Sc. and I am head of the pharmacology teaching group.

Main modules taught:

  • Pharmacology of peripheral systems
  • Clinical and Molecular Endocrinology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Human Physiology
  • Therapeutics of the Future


  • 2005 – date Reader Pharmacology, Aston University
  • 2000 – 2005 Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology, Aston University
  • 1991 – 2000 Lecturer in Pharmacology, Aston University
  • 1988 – 1991 MRC Short Term Staff Scientist, MRC Molecular Neurobiology Unit, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge
  • 1985 – 1988 MRC Training Fellow, National Institute for Medical Research, London


  • 1982 - 1985 PhD University of Cambridge

  • 1978 - 1982 BA, Pharmacology (Class I), University of Cambridge

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Clinical and Systems Neuroscience

Organisational unit: School

  1. University of Auckland

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

  2. University of Rochester

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

  3. 7th International Meeting on CGRP

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

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