Prof. Colin Davidson

Professor of Pharmacology

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.

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).


  • 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

Membership of professional and learned bodies

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

Research Activities

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


  • 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

External Affiliations and Roles

  • 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


  • 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

Social Media


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 (in press) 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.

Amira Guirguis, John Corkery, Jacqueline Stair, Stewart Kirton, Mire Zloh, Mire; Christine Goodair, Fabrizio Schifano, Colin Davidson. (2015) Survey of knowledge of legal highs (novel psychoactive substances) amongst London pharmacists. Drugs and Alcohol Today 15: 93-99.

Claire Hutchinson, Jose Prados, Colin Davidson (2015) Persistent conditioned place preference to cocaine and withdrawal hypo-locomotion to mephedrone in the flatworm planaria. Neuroscience Letters 593:19-23. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2015.03.021