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Professor Graeme Henderson

Professor Graeme Henderson

Professor Graeme Henderson
B.Sc.(Glas.), MA, Ph.D.(Aberd.), Hon FBPhS, FRSB

Professor of Pharmacology

Area of research

Opioid Drug Action

Office G24b
Biomedical Sciences Building,
University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TD
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 1431


Our research is aimed at understanding the lethality of opioid drugs such as heroin, methadone and fentanyl in opioid overdose and how their lethality (through depression of respiration) can be enhanced by other drugs such as alcohol and gabapentinoids.

Prolonged use of opioids results in the development of tolerance whereby the effect of the drug (euphoria or respiratory depression) is reduced and more drug must be taken to induce the original level of effect. We have demonstrated that the mechanisms underlying tolerance may be different for different opioids and that alcohol and gabapentinoids lower heroin but not methadone tolerance.

We use a reverse translational approach whereby we interview heroin users to find out their views on the dangers of opioid overdose and how that may be altered by other drugs. We then perform controlled laboratory experiments to examine the cellular mechanisms underlying such interactions.

Activities / Findings

  • Role of kinases in opioid receptor desensitization
  • Somatostatin receptor (sst2b) trafficking
  • differential activation of μ-opioid receptors induces different mechanisms of tolerance Read more >


Vanilloid receptors, P2X receptors, G protein-coupled receptor oligomerization, RAMPs, Opioid tolerance and dependence


  • G protein-coupled receptors
  • receptor desensitization and internalization
  • morphine
  • heroin
  • somatostatin


  • Drug addiction

Processes and functions

  • Cellular mechanisms underlying the acute action of opioid drugs and the development of tolerance and physical dependence


  • Electrophysiology
  • confocal imaging
  • fluorescence microscopy
  • patch clamp
  • slice preparation
  • transfection
  • ion vision microscopy
  • calcium measurements
  • flash photolysis


Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

Networks & contacts

  • Dr Eamonn Kelly - School of Physiology & Pharmacology

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