Neuropharmacology and Pain

ORCID Research Profile


Position: Professor of Pharmacology

Research team


Victor Fernandez Dueñas

Associate professor

vfernandez (at)


Maria Laura Cuffi Cheliz

Associate Professor

lcuffi (at)


Xavier Morato Arus

Post-doctoral researcher

xavmoratoar (at)


Ester Aso

Principal investigator

ester.aso (at)


Marc Lopez Cano

Early stage researcher

marclopezcano (at)


Marta Valle Leon

Early stage researcher

marta.vleon (at)


Josep Argerich

Early stage researcher


Héctor Godoy Marín

Early stage researcher

hectorgodoymarin13 (at)


Kristoffer Sahlholm


kristoffer.sahlholm (at)


Salut Sánchez Rodriguez

Administrative and technical staff

salutsanchez (at)


Sebastian Videla

Clinical Collaborator

svidela (at)


Xavier Altafaj


xaltafaj (at)

Contact details


Dr. Francisco Ciruela

Department of Patologia i Terapèutica Experimental

Faculty of Medicine, Av. Feixa Llarga, s/n

08907 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Spain)


fciruela (at)

Research Interests


The research conducted in our group is mainly focused on seeking new pharmacological strategies to reach an effective management of neurological, neuropsychiatric and pain diseases. Our aim consists of providing a deep mechanistic understanding of neurotransmitter receptors functioning which may help to design combined therapies or oligomer-tailored drugs in the near future. In addition, our interests include the development and implementation of novel biotechnological methodologies (e.g. fluorescence based biosensors, optopharmacology, etc.) that may eventually evolve into new tools for both the study and diagnostic of diseases.

Finally, our main goal is the translation of our results from the bench to the bedside and to clinical practice. Accordingly, to translate basic scientific findings into therapeutic interventions for patients we are also involved in clinical pharmacology studies, specially pharmacoepidemiological studies and clinical trials.

Current Research Lines


  • Adenosine and dopamine receptor-receptor interactions in the neurobiology of schizophrenia & Parkinson’s disease
  • GPCRs & ion channels oligomerization
  • The Parkinson’s disease-associated GPR37 receptor: a promising target for neurological diseases
  • Targeting the sigma-1 receptor: Pain and more
  • GPCR Optopharmacology

Technologies / methods


  • Molecular and in cell studies: Drug design, GPCR structure, BRET, FRET, TR-FRET, biosensors, real-time single cell FRET, NanoBRET, fluorescent ligands, optopharmacology, primary neuronal cultures and brain slices.
  • In animal studies: Pharmacological and genetic animal models for neurological diseases and pain (i.e. Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, schizophrenia and Pain). Knock-out animals for GPCRs.
  • In human studies: Peripheral and central biomarkers for neurological diseases.

Highlighted publications


· Font, J., López-Cano, M., Notartomaso, S., Scarselli, P., Di Prieto, P., Bresolí-Obach, R., Battaglia, G., Malhaire, F., Rovira, X., Catena, J., Giraldo, J., Pin, J.P., Fernández-Dueñas, V., Goudet, C., Nonell, S., Nicoletti, F., Llebaria, A., Ciruela, F. (2017). Optical control of pain in vivo with a photoactive mGlu5 receptor negative allosteric modulator. eLife 6, e23545.


· Sokolina, K., Kittanakom, S., Snider, J., Kotlyar, M., Maurice, P., Gandía, J., Benleulmi-Chaachoua, A., Tadagaki, K., Wong, V., Malty, R.H., Deineko, V., Aoki, H., Amin, S., Riley, L., Yao, Z., Morató, X., Rahmati, S., Kobayashi, H., Menéndez, J., Auerbach, D., Angers, S., Pržulj, N., Bouvier, M., Babu. M., Ciruela, F., Jockers, R., Jurisica, I. & Stagljar, I. (2017). Systematic interactome mapping of protein-protein interactions for clinically-relevant human GPCRs. Molecular Systems Biology 13 (3), 918.


· Ciruela, F., Fernández-Dueñas, V. & Jacobson, K.A.x (2015). Lighting up G protein-coupled purinergic receptors with engineered fluorescent ligands. Neuropharmacology 98, 58-67.


· García-Negredo, G., Soto, D., Llorente, J., Morató, X., Galenkamp, K.M.O., Gómez-Soler, M., Fernández-Dueñas, V., Adelman, J.P., Shigemoto, R., Fukozawa, Y., Luján, R. & Ciruela, F. (2014). Co-assembly and coupling of mGlu5 receptors and SK2 channels. Journal of Neuroscience 34 (44), 14793–14802.


· Ciruela, F., Vilardaga, J.P. & Fernández-Dueñas. V. (2010). Lighting up multiprotein complexes: lessons from GPCR oligomerization. Trends in Biotechnology 28 (8), 407-415.