Colin Davidson

Prof. Colin Davidson

Head of School

School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Maudland Building, MB068

+44 (0) 1772 89 3920

Subject Areas: Allied Health, Biosciences, Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Psychology

Colin Davidson is a neuropharmacologist and neurochemist. His main current interest is in drug abuse, and he has recently studied a number of legal highs. He is particularly interested in their pharmacology and their effects on transmitter release. Previously he has tested novel pharmacotherapies for stimulant abuse. He has also published in the field of Stroke where he has an interest in pre-ischaemic conditioning. His PhD was in the field of antidepressants and 5-HT efflux.

Colin's Research Gate profile.

Full Profile

Colin Davidson undertook a PhD with Jon Stamford in London where he used fast cyclic voltammetry in brain slices to examine acute and long-term effects of SSRIs on 5-HT efflux and presynaptic control of transmitter release. Moving to The University of St Andrews to do a postdoc, Colin worked with Eric Bowman and Verity Brown on the brain reward system, especially the role of accumbens dopamine in food reward. Moving to Duke University in North Carolina, Colin undertook a postdoc with the late Everett Ellinwood in the Psychiatry Department, examining novel pharmacotherapeutics for cocaine and methamphetamine abuse. Here he made use of models of addiction such as locomotor sensitisation, conditioned place preference and drug self-administration. He was promoted to Assistant Professor in Psychiatry in 2000 and stayed at Duke until 2007. Moving back to the UK Colin worked in the School of Psychology at the University of Leicester, working closely with Andrew Young and Claire Gibson on an in vitro model of stroke. In 2010 Colin moved to St George’s University of London as a Senior Lecturer in Neuropharmacology where he developed an interest in legal highs and worked closely with Fabrizio Schifano (University of Hertfordshire) and Jolanta Opacko-Juffry (University of Roehampton).

In September 2018 Colin presented his research into ‘legal highs’ as part of the British Science Festival, which took place in Hull and the Humber.

Colin has had an article published on The Conversation about the dangers of ‘legal highs’ entitled “Legal highs’ may be more dangerous than traditional drugs of abuse”.


  • Ph.D. Neuropharmacology, The London Hospital Medical college, Queen Mary’s & Westfield University, University of London, 1996.
  • Pg.Dip. Neuroscience, The Royal (Dick) Veterinary College, University of Edinburgh, 1990
  • Pg.Cert. Healthcare and Biomedical Education, St George’s University of London, 2012
  • B.Sc. Biological Sciences (Hons Psychology), University of Edinburgh, 1989


External affiliations

  • Editorial Board European Journal of Pharmacology
  • Editorial Board Progress in neuropharmacology & Biological Psychiatry
  • External Examiner MSc Neuroscience Nottingham Trent University
  • External Examiner MSc Pharmacology Nottingham Trent University
  • External Examiner BSc Biology, University of Cumbria
  • External Examiner FD Biomedical Science, Leeds City College


Sahai MA, Davidson C, Khelashvili G, Barrese V, Dutta N, Weinstein H, Opacka-Juffry J. (2017) Combined in vitro and in silico approaches to the assessment of stimulant properties of novel psychoactive substances - The case of the benzofuran 5-MAPB. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 24;75:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2016.11.004.

Maria Antonietta De Luca, M. Paola Castelli, Barbara Loi, Alessandra Porcu, Mariella Martorelli, Cristina Miliano, Kathryn Kellett, Colin Davidson, L. Jacqueline Stair, Fabrizio Schifano, Gaetano Di Chiara (2016) Native CB1 receptor affinity, intrisic activity and accumbens shell dopamine stimulant properties of third generation SPICE/K2 cannabinoids: BB-22, 5F-PB-22, 5F-AKB-48 and STS-135. Neuropharmacology 105, 630-638. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2015.11.017

Colin Davidson & Fabrizio Schifano. (2016) The potential utility of some legal highs in CNS disorders. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 64:267-74. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2015.07.010.

Barrese V, Taglialatela M, Greenwood IA, Davidson C (2015) Protective role of Kv7 channels in oxygen and glucose deprivation-induced damage in rat caudate brain slices. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2015 Oct;35(10):1593-600. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2015.83.

P Dawson, J Opacka-Juffry, JD Moffatt, Y Daniju, N Dutta, J Ramsey & C Davidson (2014) The effects of benzofury (5-APB) on the dopamine transporter and 5-HT2-dependent vasoconstriction in the rat. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry. 48, 57-63. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.08.013.



  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • British Pharmacological Society
  • British Neuroscience Association
  • International Society for Neurochemistry


  • British Pharmacological Society, London 2015
  • International Society for Addiction Medicine, Dundee, 2015
  • British Neuroscience Association, Edinburgh 2015
  • British Pharmacological Society, London 2014
  • 3rd International Conference on Novel Psychoactive Drugs, Rome 2014


  • Neuropharmacology of legal highs (novel psychoactive substances)
  • Pre-ischaemic conditioning in an in vitro model of stroke
  • Planarian models for CNS disorders

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

  • MPharm
  • BSc Biomedical Science


Funded by EU (2014-16) on a project related to legal highs