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Leslie L Iversen

Visiting Professor in Neuropharmacology

  • Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Home Office

Professor Leslie Iversen received a BA in  Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge in 1961 and was then awarded a PhD in Pharmacology, also from Cambridge, in 1964. In addition to fellowships with the NIH, Harvard Medical School and Cambridge, Professor Iversen has also worked for Merck and was Director of the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases at King’s College London from 1999-2004. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Leslie Iversen has been at the forefront of research on neurotransmitters and neuropeptides and understanding the mode of action of CNS drugs. In his early work on catecholamines he was among the first to describe the detailed properties and pharmacological specifi city of the noradrenaline transporter (NAT) in sympathetic nerves and brain, and he helped to strengthen the concept of antipsychotic drugs as dopamine receptor antagonists. 

In his work on GABA he participated in the first demonstration of the release of GABA on activation of an inhibitory synapse, and was the first to describe GABA uptake into inhibitory nerve endings in mammalian brain. In the field of neuropeptide research his efforts were eventually rewarded whilst working at Merck Research Laboratories by the development of the substance Preceptor antagonist aprepitant as a novel treatment for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy. He has been keen to explain the complex scientific issues associated with the use of psychoactive drugs to a general audience, and has written books about marijuana and amphetamines.

Professor Leslie Iversen has been Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) since 2010.