I received my scientific training in the United States, where I received a BSc in Biology and a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Virginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of Virginia.  From there, I moved to the University of California, San Francisco where I completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center.  I moved to the UK and University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff University in 2009 and finally to Swansea University Medical School in 2015.  The goal of my laboratory research has been to investigate the role of cell-signalling molecules, such as receptors and protein kinases, in the behavioural response to drugs of abuse like alcohol and cannabis and how these responses affect disorders such as epilepsy and addiction.

Recently, I have focussed my research on Higher Education programme design and teaching excellence.  I am Vice President for Academic Development of the British Pharmacological Society, a member of the QAA Benchmarking Review Groups for Biosciences and Biomedical Science, and a member the Royal Society of Biology Degree Accreditation Committee. In these roles, I have lead projects on science curriculum development and quality assurance, both in the UK and internationally.

Areas of Expertise

  • pharmacology
  • neuroscience
  • drugs of abuse
  • curriculum development
  • quality assurance

Publications

  1. Turnaround time and market capacity in contract cheating. Educational Studies 40(2), 233-236.
  2. & The Delphi technique in radiography education research. Radiography
  3. Improved quality and quantity of written feedback is associated with a structured feedback proforma. Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professions 9, 10
  4. PKCɛ Regulates Behavioral Sensitivity, Binding and Tolerance to the CB1 Receptor Agonist WIN55,212-2. Neuropsychopharmacology 34(7), 1733-1742.
  5. Amygdala protein kinase C epsilon controls alcohol consumption. Genes, Brain and Behavior 8(5), 493-499.

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Teaching

  • PM-007 Foundation Applied Medical Sciences Skills Development 1

    The module will provide the student with a diversity of study, laboratory and scientific skills in relation to the undertaking of undergraduate practical sessions in a safe manner. This will involve the development of skills including basic biologically relevant mathematics, appropriate data handling, working safely and key laboratory skills. Students will also be provided with an introduction to laboratory methods such as accurate pipetting and standard curve construction.In addition, students will receive lectures on developing study skills in literature searching, referencing & plaigarism and communication of information.

  • PM-138 Skills for Medical Sciences

    The aim of this module is to provide the student with basic skills required for laboratory research in the field of applied medical sciences. The module will be both theoretical and applied: the student will be instructed in methods essential for data acquisition and analyses but will also actively participate in the laboratory, using broadly applicable experimental techniques. They will also develop skills that are not experimental techniques themselves, but are nevertheless fundamental to the scientific process, such as `lab math,¿ sourcing information, referencing, ethics and health and safety.

  • PM-147 The Dose Makes the Poison: Intro to Toxicology and Dose Response

    We are surrounded by substances that may do our bodies harm ¿ `poisons¿. The harm the `poison¿ causes depends on our exposure ¿ `the dose.¿ The science of toxicology, a discipline that crosscuts biology, chemistry, pharmacology, and medicine, is based on the principle that the `dose makes the poison¿. This module will provide you with an introduction to toxicology and how dose-response relationships relate to the physiological effects of toxic substances. You will explore how they produce cellular and chemical changes that cause tissues and organs to malfunction. You will learn how structure and function of these tissues can be affected to varying degrees and begin to understand how tissue may repair itself and when the damage is permanent or fatal.

  • PM-256 Communicating Medical Sciences

    An important aspect of the role of scientists concerns the communication of complex scientific ideas and research to non-specialist audiences. This module will explore methods of science communication including public events and campaigns and through digital and social media. There will be a focus on visual communication techniques (such as digital storytelling and infographics) to facilitate engagement and presentation of information for different audiences. Students will be required to deliver a short presentation, create a poster, write an abstract, and write and deliver a podcast (digital audio file).

  • PM-261 Introduction to Pharmacology: Dynamics and Kinetics

    The aim of this module is to introduce students to basic principles of pharmacology, focussing on how drugs work on the human body (pharmacodynamics) and how the body works on drugs (pharmacokinetics). These discussions will be placed in the context of pharmacology as a discipline today and the emergence of biotechnology, including the sub-disciplines of pharmacogenomics, pharmacoepidemiology, and pharmacoeconomics. Alternative therapeutic principles will also be critiqued according to the scientific evidence base.

  • PM-267 Genes on Drugs: Pharmacogenomics

    Genes affect how the body reacts to drugs as well as how they are absorbed, metabolized and eliminated. You will learn how variation in genes encoding proteins involved in these processes affect how drugs work ¿ or don¿t ¿ therapeutically. By understanding these factors, you will gain insight into the emerging field of personalized medicine and learn how individualized drug design and selection can improve therapeutic efficacy, safety and sustainability.

  • PM-340 Being a Medical Scientist

    Much of a scientist¿s career is spent writing and speaking about science. The aim of this module is to give students a higher level experience of what being a lead researcher is like, away from the lab bench. Drawing on core knowledge from other modules, students will refine their oral and written communication and learn what leadership skills are needed to succeed in modern science. They will also be challenged to consider ethical aspects of research, including new technologies and the use of animal and human subjects. The module will be highly interactive, taught using informal lectures interspersed with students working in groups. Assessments will include an ethics application, a group Journal Club presentation on a published, peer-reviewed research article, and a mock grant proposal.

  • PM-342 Advances in Pharmacology

    Pharmacology is the science of how drugs act on the body and how the body acts on drugs. Pharmacology investigates the chemical and physical properties of drugs, how those properties confer actions on living tissues and how those actions affect health and disease. The beneficial, therapeutic effects of drugs will be discussed, but also some negative consequences of drug administration, such as toxicity, addiction and microbial drug-resistance.

  • PM-344 Capstone Project

    The aim of this module is to provide a capstone experience to students¿ learning, through participating in their own enquiry-based research project. Depending on the student's employability strand within the programme, the project may be laboratory, data, or education-based, but it will always involve a research question that is drawn from the literature, focused on a topic relevant to medical science. It will ask a novel research question and involve the critical analysis of research findings. Students will refine their oral and written communication skills to a graduate level through creating an introductory presentation on the project background, and a written dissertation and oral presentation on their research conclusions.