School of Life Sciences

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Meritxell Canals Buj

Professor of Cellular Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences


  • workRoom C101a The University of Nottingham Medical School
    Queen's Medical Centre
    NG7 2UH
  • work0115 82 30467


Meritxell Canals joined the University of Nottingham in October 2018 as a Professor of Cellular Pharmacology at the School of Life Sciences. Her research interests focus on understanding the interactions between G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and intracellular proteins, and their consequences for receptor signalling and trafficking.

Meritxell did her PhD in biochemistry at the University of Barcelona, Spain and at Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Her PhD was part of a EU-funded multidisciplinary project that examined the interactions between adenosine and dopamine receptors in Parkinson's Disease. During her PhD, Meritxell obtained scholarships to visit the laboratories of Prof M Bouvier (pioneer in the application of BRET to GPCRs; Montreal, Canada) and Prof R Pepperkok (a leader in the development of FRET; EMBL, Germany). Dr Canals completed postdoctoral training in a series of leading pharmacology groups. In the laboratory of Prof G Milligan in Glasgow, (2005-2008) she focused on the functional consequences of GPCR co-expression and oligomerisation for which she developed novel RET techniques. As a senior post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Profs R Leurs and M Smit in Amsterdam (2008-2010) she focused on the regulation, pharmacology and medicinal chemistry of chemokine receptors. In 2010, Meritxell was awarded a Monash Fellowship to start her independent line of research within the Drug Discovery Biology (DDB) Theme at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS). In 2017 she took a sabbatical year to work with her collaborators in the departments of surgery (Prof N Bunnett) and pharmacology (Prof J Javitch) at Columbia University, New York. At the end of 2018, Meritxell moved to the University of Nottingham, to join the Centre of Membrane Protein and Receptors, (COMPARE) a joined venture between the University of Birmingham and the University of Nottingham.

Expertise Summary

My research focuses on improving our understanding of the cellular responses mediated by G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) with particular focus on novel emerging paradigms that challenge the traditional views on GPCR signalling and regulation and promise to change the way drugs are screened and validated. Such two inter-related paradigms in GPCR biology are: GPCR positional dynamism (encompassing GPCR regulation and compartmentalised signalling) and GPCR conformational dynamism (namely allosterism and biased agonism). The general premise of my work is that a greater understanding of the mechanisms of action of GPCRs will lead to novel, more efficacious, GPCR-targeted therapeutics.

The main focus of my research are peptide receptors involved in pain transmission (opioid, neurokinin and calcitonin gene-related peptide receptors) and immune response (chemokine receptors). While these GPCRs are undisputed targets for the treatment of pain and inflammation, and have an extensive pharmacological toolbox, the use of drugs targeting these receptors is still limited by the development of side effects (such as opioid-induced tolerance or respiratory depression) or by lack of efficacy. My lab uses sophisticated biochemistry and imaging techniques combined withanalytical pharmacology and drug delivery approaches to address these issues and provide a path for improved and safer pain management therapeutics.

School of Life Sciences

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham NG7 2UH

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