Dr Sarah Coleman

Dr Sarah Coleman

I read for a BSc (Hons) (1989) in Biochemistry at University of Essex; then for a PhD (1996) in Biochemistry at the School of Pharmacy, University of London under Prof. F. Anne Stephenson. There I examined the pharmacological and biochemical properties of NMDA receptors, a sub-family of ionotropic glutamate receptors. The title of my thesis being NMDA receptors: A Biochemical Characterization. Following this I had a brief stint at Imperial College, London examining potassium channels combinations in the brain.

I moved to Helsinki, Finland and entered the Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki. Where I joined the Glutamate Receptor group of Professor Kari Keinänen examining AMPA receptors (another sub-family of the ionotropic glutamate receptors) their biogenesis, assembly and trafficking. In 2010 I became a Docent in Biochemistry and a University Researcher at the University of Helsinki.

In November 2015 I joined the Department of Life Science, University of Westminster as a lecturer in Biochemistry. In 2022 I became co-course leader for the BSc (Hons) Biochemistry degree course. 

I am the local ambassador for the Biochemical Society (UK), a member of the British Neuroscience Association and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

My research has focused on the assembly and molecular interactions of the ionotropic glutamate receptors, especially the AMPA receptor subtype and their associated proteins. AMPA receptors are tetrameric glutamate-gated cation channels and are the primary mediators of fast excitatory neurotransmission. They are fundamental for normal synaptic physiology and memory formation; they are also involved in a number of common neurological disorders, for example; intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. The receptors are composed from homologous subunits, GluA1 to A4, (generated from genes Gria1-4).

 I have focused on the inherent logic of AMPA receptor assembly and trafficking; My research has centered upon the biogenesis of AMPA receptors, i.e. from polypepetide production in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), their assembly (via dimers, then as tetramers) through to the ER exit of the correctly folded and assembled receptors (early trafficking). Thus, the vital role of the extracellular ligand-binding domain in AMPA receptor quality control processes was demonstrated in a series of studies. 

I am also involved in pedagogical research on biosciences teaching and learning. We have studied the role and use of virtual lab simulation to improve student learning and engagement and use in preparation for wet laboratory teaching sessions. 

The University repository of my research papers can be found here.

  • Neuroscience, Inflammatory Disorders and Therapeutics
  • The Centre for Nutraceuticals

Sustainable Development Goals
In brief

Research areas

Glutamate receptors, Molecular neuroscience, Antibodies, Molecular biology and Bioscience pedagogy

Skills / expertise

Mammalian cell culture and Gene cloning