Dr Mohammed A Nassar

School of Biosciences

Lecturer

Level 1 Tutor

m.nassar@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 2392

Full contact details

Dr Mohammed A Nassar
School of Biosciences
Alfred Denny Building
Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TN
Profile

Brief career history

  • 2010-present: Lecturer, School of Biosciences, the University of Sheffield, UK.
  • 1999-2009: Senior postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Nociception Group, Dept. of Biology, UCL, UK.
  • 1998-99: Postdoctoral Fellow (Wellcome Prize Fellowship), Wellcome Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology, Dept. of Pharmacology, UCL, UK.
  • 1994-98: Postgraduate student (Wellcome Prize studentship), Wellcome Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology, Dept. of Pharmacology, UCL, UK.
Research interests

My research is focused on primary sensory neurons which are part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Sensory neurons convey sensory information from both the internal (e.g. viscera, muscles and bones) and the external (skin) environments to the central nervous system (CNS).

Sensory neurons convey both innoxious and noxious stimuli. The latter is perceived in the CNA as pain. Inflammation and nerve injury sensitise sensory neurons which results in decreased pain thresholds.

My research interest lies in investigating the molecular changes in sensory neurons that are associated with pathological pain.

This is important in order to identify potential targets for new, effective and specific analgesic drugs. My lab uses a variety of methods based on molecular biology, cellular biology and functional assays.

Publications

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Journal articles

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Books

Journal articles

Research group

Postgraduate studentship opportunities

Project 1: Investigation of changes in the excitability of pain neurons in diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which a person’s homeostatic mechanism to control blood sugar level is compromised, resulting in an inability to produce insulin and reduce sugar level. The incidence of diabetes is increasing worldwide, and peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common complications.

Diabetic neuropathy causes extreme pain. The cause of this is thought to be from microvascular injury of the vasa nervorum, the blood vessels which supply nerves. The resulting neuronal damage is thought to affect nociceptor excitability and make them more likely to respond to stimuli. We are interested in characterising diabetes-induced changes in nociceptor excitability.

Our research is currently focusing on the pain neurones of the db/db knockout mouse model.

Project 2: Drug screening for effective and safe reduction of the excitability of pain neurons

Our aim is to identify novel compounds, or a combination of existing compounds, that produce the biggest reduction in the excitability of pain neurons with a minimal effect on non-nociceptors. By targeting only nociceptor activity, this should produce effective analgesia in vivo, with minimal side effects.

The initial step of this process is to screen candidate compounds on cultured primary mouse DRG neurons. Only those which produce the desired effect are taken for further investigation.

References

  • Mohammed, Z.A., et al., Veratridine produces distinct calcium response profiles in mouse Dorsal Root Ganglia neurons. Sci. Rep, 2017. 7: p. 45221.
  • Mohammed, Z., K. Kaloyanova, and M.A. Nassar, An unbiased and efficient assessment of excitability of sensory neurons for analgesic drug discovery. Pain, 2020.
Teaching activities

Teaching experience

  • 2015: Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching from the University of Sheffield (Fellow of The Higher Education Academy, FHEA)

Undergraduate

  • BMS109 Cell & Molecular
  • BMS109 Practical Classes
  • BMS110 Research Topics in Biomedicine
  • BMS303 Molecular Physiology of Ion Channels
  • BMS319 Pharmacological Techniques
  • Level 3 Practical and Dissertation Modules

Masters (MSc)

  • BMS6084 Pharmacological Techniques
Professional activities

Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching from the University of Sheffield (Fellow of The Higher Education Academy, FHEA)