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Professor Robert Sewell

Honorary Professor

School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Research interests

  • Drug Dependence and Tolerance
  • Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration and drug actions on memory
  • Computer Assisted Learning (CAL)

Professor Sewell commenced his research career as an opioid neuropharmacologist studying analgesia, tolerance and dependence. He later developed an interest in non-receptor mediated membrane actions of benzodiazepines and consequently spent two years in Canada exploring this field of research. On return to the U.K, he became involved with studies on cotton contamination and its relevance to occupational lung disease but subsequently, he has focused on neurodegenerative diseases, early biomarkers of cognitive decline, memory enhancement and the development of neuroprotective agents. He has continually maintained a lasting interest in opioid dependence studies both at the clinical and experimental level.

Throughout, Professor Sewell has recognised the importance of teaching research particularly in the use of computers in the learning environment. He has taken an active role in the development of teaching packages for Pharmacy and Pharmacology students within the Pharmacy Consortium for Computer Aided Learning (PCCAL) since the early 1990s and he has numerous publications in the context of teaching research.


Career profile

Robert Sewell graduated in pharmacy at the University of Bradford (B.Pharm) and became a registered pharmacist (M.R.Pharm.S). After a period in clinical pharmacy practice, Professor Sewell undertook research training in experimental applied pharmacology at the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST). His research was carried out in the laboratory of Prof. Paul Spencer on a Scholarship awarded by C. H. Boehringer Sohn and he was awarded Ph.D in 1976 for studies on Opioid Receptor Classification and Modified Neurotransmitter Function.

Professor Sewell was appointed as a lecturer in Pharmacology at UWIST in 1976 and spent a sabbatical period as a Heritage funded research scientist (1982 -1984) with Prof. Sheldon Roth in the Department of Pharmacology and Prof. Leo Strunin, Department of Anaesthesiology at the University of Calgary Medical School. Subsequently, he also spent collaborative periods with  Prof. Bernard Roques from the Université René Descartes, Paris and Prof. Juan Mico from the Department of Pharmacology and Psychiatry at the School of Medicine, University of Cadiz.

Professor Sewell was appointed Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Cardiff University in 1987 and then became Director of Postgraduate Studies (Clinical Research) in 1996. More recently, he has had research collaborations with Dr Marina Gruden at the P. K. Anokhin Institute of Normal Physiology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow and with Prof Ludmilla Morozova-Roche at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University, Sweden.

He was promoted to Reader in Pharmacology in 2010, and promoted again to Professor of Pharmacology in 2013.

He was designated a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in June 2009.

Scientific and professional service

Professor Sewell has acted as reviewer for over thirty international scientific and educational journals. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Pharmacological Methods and is currently on the editorial boards of the Journal of Psychopharmacology, Journal of Phytotherapy Research and the Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry. He was awarded an Alberta Heritage visiting scientist scholarship in 1982 and was the recipient of the British Telecom partnership award for Teaching and Learning in Science in 1994.

He also won the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Award for Pharmacy in 2007 for a project on the evaluation of a novel iris scanning and methadone dispensing system for drug abusers. More recently, he received the Anokhin Centennial Medal and Citation in 2008 for neuroscientific collaboration and his contribution to the development of the theory of functional systems by the P. K. Anokhin Institute for Normal Physiology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Moscow.

Professional memberships

Academic positions

Professor in Pharmacology