Lab+Life Scientist July 2015

Page 4

Susan Williamson

Professor Patrick Sexton, head of the Drug Discovery Biology theme at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, reflects on a research career in pharmacology and how working within a large research program that encompasses translational drug discovery, drug delivery and drug development has enriched his team’s research.

The pharmaceutical scientist


ab+Life Scientist: What drew you to

study science? Professor Patrick Sexton: I was always interested in maths and biology at school and that drove me to do a science degree at the University of Melbourne, where I also did my postgraduate degree. I majored in pharmacology in my undergraduate degree and after that took up a PhD position at the Department of Medicine at the Austin Hospital. My principal supervisor was Fred Mendelson, a medically trained physician who had trained overseas and come back to Australia to set up his own lab, and Jack Martin, based at the Repatriation General Hospital, was my co-supervisor. L+LS: Was it a good choice to do a PhD in a medical environment? PS: The Austin was a vibrant environment to do a PhD in. The seminars, journal clubs and other activities were done in the context of a large number of physicians together with basic scientists - it was a very good environment to start a research career in. L+LS: How did you come to study G proteincoupled receptors? PS: It began with my PhD project. I investigated G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), mainly the calcitonin receptor, and looked at their basic pharmacological characterisation. I was trying to understand more about what they did and where they were distributed.

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