Professor Alan North grew up in West Yorkshire and studied medicine at the University of Aberdeen before taking a PhD in pharmacology (1973). He moved to the US in 1975 as Associate Professor of Pharmacology at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, before becoming Professor of Neuropharmacology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Senior Scientist and Professor at the Vollum Institute of Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland. In 1993, he was appointed Principal Scientist at the Glaxo Institute for Molecular Biology, Geneva, and returned to England in 1998 as Professor of Molecular Physiology at the University of Sheffield, and Director of its Institute of Molecular Physiology.
Professor North’s work has focused on a quantitative understanding of drug and transmitter action at the level of single cells and single molecules, primarily by biophysical and molecular biological approaches. His extensive publications deal with drug and neurotransmitter receptors, structure and function of ion channels, the physiology of the autonomic (particularly enteric) nervous system, pain mechanisms, psychoactive drugs and mental illness. He has served as editor of the Journal of Physiology, the Journal of Neuroscience, and Molecular Pharmacology. He has been Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal of Pharmacology (2000-2004), President of the Physiological Society (2003-2006), and a member of the Medical Research Council (2001-2006). He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London (1995).
Professor North is Vice-President of the University of Manchester. He serves as Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences (from July 2004) and Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences (from July 2006).