We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Staff and Governance

To contact the IMEMS administrative office please use the following details:

For the Administrator (maternity cover)


T: 0191 334 6574

For the Administrative Assistant


T: 0191 334 42974


Associate Director (World Heritage): Professor Robin Coningham - view profile

Associate Director: Professor Barbara Ravelhofer - view profile

Core Staff

The day-to-day running of IMEMS is the responsibility of the Core Executive Committee, comprising the Director and Associate Directors and the Administrator. 

Publication details

Pruell, C.-R., Maehle, A.-H. & Halliwell, R. F. (2009). A Short History of the Drug Receptor Concept. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Author(s) from Durham


Humans have long used plant and animal extracts for their medicinal properties but until the end of the 19th century their actions were often explained in a speculative manner. The systematic study of drugs did not begin until the 1860s, and the concept of receptors as the target of their effects in the body only emerged at the end of the 19th century from the brilliant and independent studies of John Newport Langley (1852-1925) and Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915).

This book address the people and the key discoveries that led to the development of the receptor concept and its impact on 20th-century medicine: A.J Clark in the 1930s, and later E.J Ariens and R.P Stephenson in the 1950s provided the quantitative basis of drug receptor occupancy theory. R.P Ahlquist's investigations gave rise to the proposal of receptor subtypes in 1948 and facilitated Sir James Black (and subsequently others) to apply the receptor concept to clinical therapy (beta blockers) in the mid 1960s. By the early 1980s, the first (acetylcholine) receptor had been isolated and cloned.

Today, we recognize a large and diverse number of physiological receptors which can be delineated into 'receptor super-families' on the basis of their pharmacology and molecular properties. These receptors are now the focus of a multi-national, multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. This book reveals that these successes were by no means foreseeable, since chance, coincidence, competition among scientists, and other factors played important roles in the history of the receptor concept.

Full Executive Committee

Our Full Executive Committee is made up of the Core Executive Committee, listed above, plus a number of executive members including:

International Advisory Board

We are extremely fortunate to have be able to call on the help and guidance of colleagues from around the world who help to shape and guide our direction, strategy and international reach. Our current Advisory Board members are: