skip to content

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



Sue's love of ion channels and their modulation started during her degree in Pharmacology at King's College London and continued during her PhD in the lab of Professor David Brown at University College London, where she identified G proteins involved in the modulation of M-type K+ currents. She moved from voltage gated ion channels to ligand gated ion channels during her postdoctoral work, first with Dr Jerry Yakel at NIEHS, where she studied nicotinic AChRs and 5HT3Rs, and then with Dr Julie Kauer at Duke University, where she studied modulation and plasticity at excitatory synapses. After moving to Cambridge in 2001 she focused on the properties and modulation of glutamate receptors, particularly the NMDA receptor, in midbrain dopamine neurons. She currently studies neuronal plasticity involving both ligand-gated and voltage-gated ion channels occurring in brain regions concerned with puberty and sexual activity (in collaboration with Professor Bill Colledge) and substance abuse disorders (with Professor David Belin).

Sue has a small lab to ensure she can personally train and supervise lab members wishing to learn electrophysiology. The lab currently includes two co-supervised PhD students, one co-supervised MPhil student and undergraduate students. She has weekly informal lab meetings to encourage open discussions about progress, challenges and potential problems and she chats informally with lab members most days to check on their wellbeing. She promotes a healthy work-life balance and encourages participation in extracurricular professional development, such as teaching experience or courses, as well as time away from the lab.

Sue has been pro-active in establishing a positive research culture in her Department, Chairing the PDN Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Taskforce in 2021-2022 to set up a dedicated ED&I website for PDN ( and working with Trish Murray to establish a sign-posting web tool to ensure positive values are promoted and communicated to all members of PDN ( For Sue, within her lab, equality means that anyone with enthusiasm and motivation can start or continue their journey in neuroscience; equity means that we all have different strengths and therefore need to be supported in different ways to reach our individual goals; inclusivity means that every member of the lab feels welcome and valued and able to access necessary training and support; diversity means that we strive for a lab group consisting of different backgrounds and philosophies because this makes us better and stronger.


Currently Sue's lab focuses on different forms of neuronal plasticity during life changing events. With Professor Bill Colledge, we study kisspeptin neurons in the hypothalamus and amygdala that are critical for puberty, fertility and sexual behaviour. With Professor David Belin, we study neuronal plasticity in amygdala neurons in the context of substance abuse disorders. The main approach used in Sue's lab is patch clamp electrophysiology in brain slices.

Previous work in Sue's lab focused on NMDA receptors and synaptic control of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta. Substantia nigra dopamine neurons form part of the basal ganglia circuit, which is needed for motivated voluntary movement control. Degeneration of dopamine neurons is a characteristic feature of Parkinson’s disease. Former members of Sue's lab studied glutamatergic synapses onto dopamine neurons, with a particular interest in NMDA glutamate receptors: how they are regulated, and the balance between physiological and pathological NMDA receptor activity. This work has been funded by the BBSRC, Parkinson’s UK, the Wellcome Trust and the Isaac Newton Trust. Key publications can be found above. Sue maintains an interest in dopamine neurons through her collaboration with Dr Elisa Galliano.


Key publications: 

Morris PG, Mishina M, Jones S (2018), Altered synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDA receptor properties in substantia nigra dopaminergic neurons from mice lacking the GluN2D subunit, Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, In Press                 

Zhao J, Baudry M, Jones S (2018), Calpain inhibition reduces NMDA receptor rundown in rat substantia nigra dopamine neurons, Neuropharmacology, 137:221-229

Wild AR, Bollands M, Morris PG, Jones S, (2015), Mechanisms regulating spill-over of synaptic glutamate to extrasynaptic NMDA receptors in mouse substantia nigra dopaminergic neurons, European Journal of Neuroscience, 42:2633-2643

Wild AR, Jones S, Gibb AJ, (2014), Activity dependent regulation of NMDA receptors in substantia nigra dopaminergic neurones, J Physiology, 592.4:653–668

Wild AR, Akyol E, Brothwell SLC, Kimkool P, Skepper JN, Gibb AJ, Jones S, (2013), Memantine block depends on agonist presentation at the NMDA receptor in substantia nigra pars compacta dopamine neurones, Neuropharmacology, 73:138-146

Brothwell SLC , Barber JL, Monaghan DT, Jane DE, Gibb AJ, Jones S, (2008), NR2B- and NR2D-containing synaptic NMDA receptors in developing rat substantia nigra pars compacta dopaminergic neurones, J Physiology, 586:739-750

Teaching and Supervisions


Part II Module N9

Part IB NST Neurobiology

Part IB MST Neuroanatomy

Part IA MVST Homeostasis

University of Cambridge Online, Functional Neuroanatomy


Research supervision: 

10/2023-present: Yilang Zhang (MPhil co-supervisor)

10/2022-present: Leonie Pakulet (PhD co-supervisor)

10/2020-present: Yuanxin Zhang (PhD co-supervisor)

10/2020-present :Sonja Stiebahl (PhD co-supervisor)

10/2021-09/2022: James Wilson (MPhil, co-supervised)

2018-2020: Dr Emily Mort (PhD, co-supervised)

10/2018-08/2019: Maggy Lau (MPhil, co-supervised)

10/2016-08/ 2017:Jerry Zhao (MPhil)

06/2014-09/2017: Dr Paul Morris (PhD

10/2009-12/2012   Dr Angela Wild (PhD, co-supervised)

10/2008-09/2012   Dr James Hallet (PhD)

10/2004-06/2008   Dr Shona Brothwell (PhD)

10/2002-12/2005   Dr Helen Gibson (PhD, co-supervised)

Other Professional Activities

2023-present: Clinical School ED&I Staff Development Group

2022-present: University of Cambridge Online Education Committee

2020-present: University of Cambridge Library Syndicate

2018- present: PDN Teaching Strategy Committee

2019- present: PDN Adrian Seminars Organising Committee

2020-2022: Chair, PDN Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity Taskforce

2018-2022: Chair, PDN Communications Committee

2020-2022: Chair, PDN Library committee

2018-2022: PDN Management Committee

2008-2012: UK Physiological Society, Trustee and member of Council

2002-2014: Christ’s College Fellow/ Bye-Fellow

2001-2004: Plymouth MBA Cell Physiology, Instructor

Reviewed manuscripts for British Journal Pharmacology, eLife, European Journal Neuroscience, Journal Neuroscience, Journal Physiology, Neuropharmacology, Science

Reviewed grant applications for BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, Parkinson’s UK, Alzheimer’s Society.


Associate Professor/ University Senior Lecturer
Picture of Dr Sue  Jones

Contact Details

+44 (0) 1223 333795
Email address: