Professor Mark Connor

Professor Mark ConnorProfessor of Pharmacology

The Australian School of Advanced Medicine, Macquarie University
BSc (Hons), PhD

Contact Details

The Australian School of Advanced Medicine
2 Technology Place, Macquarie University NSW 2109, Australia
Tel: +61 (0)2 9850 2719
Fax: +61 (0)2 9850 2701

Professional Overview

Areas of Research Interest

My work focuses on the receptors and ion channels that affect neurons involved in the detection and processing of pain, with a view to understanding how drugs and endogenous neurotransmitters affect these processes. A particular area of interest is how receptor signalling changes following prolonged exposure to drugs, as occurs during opioid or triptan pharmacotherapy. We are also interested in identifying novel actions of currently used drugs, or new compounds that act at important drug targets. My lab primarily uses electrophysiological techniques to study native and recombinant channels and receptors, although we also utilize contemporary biochemical assays to study second messenger pathways.


  • 2011-2014, NH&MRC Project Grant, $812,852, "Molecular targets of amino acid/neurotransmitter conjugates of fatty acids".  (with Professor Peter McIntyre, CIB, Dr Chris Vaughan, CIC and Professor Michal Kassiou, CID)
  • 2011-2013, NH&MRC Project Grant 1011979; $543,390, "Development of opioid analgesics that reduce or reverse morphine tolerance" (with Professor Mac Christie, CIA) (from 24/10/2011- ).
  • 2010-2012, NH&MRC Project Grant, $527,500, "Mechanisms of serotonergic and triptan mediated analgesia within the midbrain".  (with Dr Chris Vaughan, CIA and Dr Hyo Jeong, CIC)
  • 2008-2010, NH&MRC Project Grant, $408 500, "Effects of muscle inflammation on sensory neuron excitability".  (with Dr Chris Vaughan, CIB)
  • 2008-2010, ARC Discovery Grant, $255 000, "Anandamide activated chloride channels in sensory neurons" (with Professor Mac Christie, CIB)
  • 2006-2008, NH&MRC Project Grant, $498 750, "Molecular and cellular basis for the analgesic properties of N-arachindonyl amino acids" (with A/Prof Rob Vandenberg, CIA and Dr Chris Vaughan, CIC)
  • 2004-2006, NH&MRC Project Grant, $367 725, "Opioid actions on identified sensory neurons in vitro"
  • 2004-2006, ARC Discovery Grant, $270 000, "Resurgent sodium currents in peripheral nerve axons and sensory neurons" (with Professor David Burke, CIA and Dr Matthew Kiernan, CIB). 
  • 2002-2004, NH&MRC Project Grant $285 000, "Arachidonic Acid Modulation of Glutamate Transporters" (with Dr Rob Vandenberg, CIA). 
  • 2001-2003, NH&MRC Project Grant, $240 000, "Opioid actions on sensory neuron excitability in vitro"

Selected Publications (Last ten years)

  • Fioretti B, Catacuzzeno L, Sforna L, Gerke-Duncan MB, van den Maagdenberg AMJM, Franciolini  F,  Connor M, Pietrobon D (2011). Trigeminal ganglion neuron subtype-specific alterations of CaV2.1 calcium current and excitability in a mutant Cacna1a mouse model of migraine. Journal of Physiology, 589: 5879-5895
  • Asghari R, Lung MSY, Pilowsky PM, Connor M (2011). Sex Differences in the expression of serotonin synthesizing enzymes in mouse trigeminal ganglia. Neuroscience, 199: 429-437.
  • Connor M, Vaughan CW, Vandenberg R (2010). N-Acyl amino acids and N-acyl neurotransmitter conjugates: Neuromodulators and probes for new drug targets. British Journal of Pharmacology, 160: 1857-1871.
  • Ross HR, Gilmore AJ, Connor M (2009).  Inhibition of human recombinant T-type calcium channels by the endocannabinoid arachidonyl dopamine. British Journal of Pharmacology, 156: 740-750.
  • Ross HR, Napier I, Connor M (2008).  Inhibition of recombinant human T-type calcium channels by D9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol.  Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283:16124-16134
  • Johnson EE, Chieng B, Napier I, Connor M (2006).  Decreased µ-opioid receptor signalling and a reduction in calcium current density in sensory neurons from chronically morphine treated mice.  British Journal of Pharmacology, 148, 947-955.
  • Connor M, Naves L, McCleskey EW (2005).  Contrasting phenotypes of putative proprioceptive and nociceptive trigeminal neurons innervating jaw muscle in rat.  Molecular Pain, 1, 31.
  • Bailey CP, Connor M (2005) Opioids: cellular mechanisms of tolerance and physical dependence.  Current Opinions in Pharmacology, 5, 60-68.
  • Borgland SL, Connor M, Osborne PB, Furness JB, Christie MJ (2003) Opioid agonists have different efficacy profiles for G protein activation, rapid desensitization and endocytosis of mu-opioid receptors.  Journal of Biological Chemistry, 278, 18776-18784.
  • Roberts LA, Christie MJ, Connor M (2002) Anandamide is a partial agonist at native vanilloid receptors in acutely isolated mouse trigeminal sensory neurons.  British Journal of Pharmacology, 137, 421-428.
  • Marinelli S, Vaughan CW, Christie MJ, Connor M (2002) Capsaicin activation of glutamatergic synaptic transmission in the rat locus coeruleus in vitroJournal of Physiology (London), 543, 531-540.


  • Dr Marika Heblinski, Research Associate

Current Students

PHD Students
  • Jordyn Stuart: Isolation of novel acyl amino acid/neurotransmitter conjugates. 
  • Marina Santiago: The molecular mechanisms of µ-opioid receptor desensitization.
  • Alisa Knapman: The effect of µ-opioid receptor polymorphisms on opioid ligand binding and receptor signalling systems. (Co-supervisor Mac Christie)
  • William Redmond: Novel cannabinoid ligands derived from endogenous biotransformation of drugs (Co-supervisor Jennifer Cornish)
  • Dharmica Mistry: Development of a diagnostic test for breast cancer. (Co-supervisor Peter French)
  • Damion Stimson: The Synthesis and Evaluation of Novel Carbon-ll and Flurorine-18 B-amino Acids. (Co-supervisor Andrew Katsifis)
  • Courtney Breen (University of Auckland, Principle Supervisor Michelle Glass)
  • Sanaa Zaki (University of Sydney, Co-supervisor Chris Little)

External Appointments and Awards

Honorary Professor, Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney

Memberships and Committees

  • Member, International Narcotics Research Conference Executive (Rest of the World Representative, 2008-2011)
  • Member of the Editorial Board, British Journal of Pharmacology, 2005-
  • Consultant, British Journal of Pharmacology Guide To Receptor and Channels, 2005-
  • Member, Scientific Committee of the Australian Pain Society, 2010-
  • Member, Finance Committee of ASCEPT, 2010-
  • Co-Organizer, International Narcotics Research Conference, Cairns 2013