Prof David R. Poyner

Professor in Pharmacology

Member of the Pharmacy and Biology Teaching Programmes

School of Life and Health Sciences
Aston UniversityAston Triangle
Birmingham, B4 7ET, UK



Telephone: +44 (0) 121 204 3997

Fax: +44 (0) 121359 5142

Room: MB438r

Research Group

Molecular Biomedical Research

Research Centre

Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA) 

Prof David Poyner
Prof David Poyner

I graduated in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University in 1981 and 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.

PH1401: Physiology.

PH2509 (module coordinator): The Pharmacological basis of clinical care

NE1001 (module coordinator); Biochemistry for Neuroscience

4th year tutor; MPharm programme



  • 1982 - 1985 PhD University of Cambridge

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

  • 2012 – date Professor, School of Life & Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
  • 2005 – 2012 Reader, School of Life & Health Science, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
  • 2000 – 2005 Senior Lecturer, School of Life & Health Science, Aston University
  • 1991 – 2000 Lecturer, School of Life & Health Science, 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, Mill Hill, London

I specialise in the teaching of molecular pharmacology, especially cell receptors and signal transduction, reflecting my research interests. I also teach general pharamacology and physiology, cell biology and biochemistry. I teach at all levels of the programme and I am head of the pharmacology teaching group.
Main modules taught: 

  • ANS, molecular, immuno- and cardiovascular pharmacology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
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 also have a more general interest in GPCRs and we are working on the adenosine 2a receptor (found in the brain and implicated in Parkinsons disease), using novel polymers called SMALPs that allow us to purify it in its native form.

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.

Molecular Pharmacology of Family B GPCRs

Use of SMA to solubilise receptors

Romez Uddin (Production of antibodies to SMA-solubilised GPCRs)
  • 2018 BBSRC Pathfinder £9,346.42, A new method of in-silico drug discovery using essential dynamics, BB/S000100/1

  • 2018-20, BBSRC, £ 27,542.54, Investigating GPCR:RAMP interactions using nanobodies, BB/R016755/1 (CI with Profs Mark Wheatley and Tim Dafforn, Birmingham and Prof RM Bill, Aston; IPA with UCB).

  • 2015-17 BBSRC Addressing the architecture, dynamics and activation mechanism of the CGRP receptor, (PI, with Prof CA Reynolds, Essex University) £343,711.51      
  • 2015-16 BBSRC The Role Of Ramps In Ligand-Engendered Signal Bias Of Secretin-Like Receptors (Co-applicant with Dr S Dowell, GSK; PI Dr Graham Ladds, Warwick University), £30,825
  • 2012-15 BBSRC The Use Of Novel Polymer-Lipid Nanoparticles To Study G-Protein-Coupled Receptor Activation And Dynamics (Co-applicant with Dr R.M. Bill and Dr T. Dafforn (Birmingham), PI Prof M. Wheatley (Birmingham). £ 303,302
    Further information on this project can be found here (courtesy of International Innovation*)  With additional details here.
  • 2011-13 The Wellcome Trust. The interaction of RAMPs with GCPRs; understanding structure-function relationships. £209,825.00 (PI, co-applicants Dr R.M Bill and D.L. Rathbone

Other Activites/Interests

  • Ordained minister, Church of England

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Higher Education Academy,
  • Biochemical Society,
  • British Pharmacological Society.

Recent Publications

Aston Research Explorer