Professor MacDonald James Christie

Professor of Pharmacology
Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences

D06 - Blackburn Building
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia

T: +61 2 9351 2946

Biographical details

Professor Christie completed a PhD at The University of Sydney in 1983. He was an Australian Postdoctoral Fellow in 1985 (NH&MRC), a Fogarty International Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1985-1987 and then Senior Research Associate at the Vollum Institute in Oregon, USA from 1987-1990. He was appointed as a tenured academic in the Department of Pharmacology, The University of Sydney in June 1990, where he was Head of Department from 1998-2000, full professor (personal chair) from 1999 and Medical Foundation Senior Principal Research Fellow from 1998-2002. He has been a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow since 2003. He has served as Director of Basic Research at the Pain Management Research Institute (2003-2008) and Brain & Mind Research Institute (2009-2011) University of Sydney was appointed as Professor of Pharmacology in June 2011 and is currently an Associate Dean (Research) in the Sydney Medical School. Christie is a cellular and molecular neuropharmacologist with research interests including cellular and molecular mechanisms of opioid receptor signalling in neurons and synapses in pain pathways, the biological basis of adaptations producing chronic pain and drug dependence, and preclinical development of novel pain therapeutics derived from conotoxins. He has published over 190 research papers in the field of neurological sciences, many in top ranked general (Nature [2], Science [1], PNAS [2]), Nature Neuroscience [1]) and discipline based (eg. Neuron [2], Journal of Neuroscience [4]) journals. His published work has received over 10,000 citations (H-Index = 54). Christie has been supported by continuous grant funding from bodies including NHMRC, ARC and NIH since 1991. He is currently a Chief Investigator on a NH&MRC Program Grant. Christie currently serves on Editorial Boards of several international journals and is a past Executive member of the International Narcotics Research Conference, the peak international opioid research organisation.

Research interests

Molecular, cellular, synaptic and behavioural mechanisms of opioid addiction and persistent pain states

Current national competitive grants*


Venom peptide modulators of pain pathways
Lewis R, Alewood P, Adams D, Christie M
NHMRC Program Grant/Shared Research Support ($1,510,500 over 5 years)

* Grants administered through the University of Sydney


Pain; Neurophysiology; Substance abuse and addiction; Cells and cell physiology; Neuropharmacology


2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008


  • Jin, A., Vetter, I., Dutertre, S., Abraham, N., Emidio, N., Inserra, M., Murali, S., Christie, M., Alewood, P., Lewis, R. (2014), MrIC, a Novel α-Conotoxin Agonist in the Presence of PNU at Endogenous [alpha]7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors. Biochemistry. 53(1), 1-3. [Abstract]


  • Bertran-Gonzalez, J., Laurent, V., Chieng, B., Christie, M., Balleine, B. (2013), Learning-related translocation of delta-opioid receptors on ventral striatal cholinergic interneurons mediates choice between goal-directed actions. The Journal of Neuroscience. 33(41), 16060-16071. [Abstract]
  • Knapman, A., Santiago, M., Du, Y., Bennallack, P., Christie, M., Connor, M. (2013), A Continuous, Fluorescence-based Assay of µ-Opioid Receptor Activation in AtT-20 Cells. Journal of Biomolecular Screening. 18(3), 269-276. [Abstract]
  • Brust, A., Wang, C., Daly, N., Kennerly, J., Sadeghi, M., Christie, M., Lewis, R., Mobli, M., Alewood, P. (2013), Vicinal Disulfide Constrained Cyclic Peptidomimetics: a Turn Mimetic Scaffold Targeting the Norepinephrine Transporter. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English). 52(46), 12020 ¿12023. [Abstract]
  • Saberi, S., Du, Y., Christie, M., Goldsbury, C. (2013), Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Increases Beta-Cleavage of Amyloid Precursor Protein in SH-SY5Y Cells. Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology. 33(6), 747-751. [Abstract]
  • Jayamanne, A., Jeong, H., Schroeder, C., Lewis, R., Christie, M., Vaughan, C. (2013), Spinal actions of ω-conotoxins, CVID, MVIIA and related peptides in a rat neuropathic pain model. British Journal of Pharmacology. 170(2), 245-254. [Abstract]
  • Sadeghi, M., Murali, S., Lewis, R., Alewood, P., Mohammadi, S., Christie, M. (2013), Novel [omega]-conotoxins from C. catus reverse signs of mouse inflammatory pain after systemic administration. Molecular Pain. 9(1), 51. [Abstract]
  • Williams, J., Ingram, S., Henderson, G., Chavkin, C., von Zastrow, M., Schulz, S., Koch, T., Evans, C., Christie, M. (2013), Regulation of μ-opioid receptors: desensitization, phosphorylation, internalization, and tolerance. Pharmacological Reviews. 65(1), 223-254. [Abstract]


  • Dang, V., Chieng, B., Christie, M. (2012), Prolonged Stimulation of μ-opioid Receptors Produces β-arrestin-2 Mediated Heterologous Desensitization of α2-adrenoceptor Function in Locus Coeruleus Neurons. Molecular Pharmacology. 82(3), 473-480. [Abstract]
  • Enoksson, T., Bertran-Gonzalez, J., Christie, M. (2012), Nucleus accumbens D2- and D1-receptor expressing medium spiny neurons are selectively activated by morphine withdrawal and acute morphine, respectively. Neuropharmacology. 62(8), 2463-2471. [Abstract]
  • Vetter, I., Mozar, C., Durek, T., Wingerd, J., Alewood, P., Christie, M., Lewis, R. (2012), Characterisation of Na(v) types endogenously expressed in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Biochemical Pharmacology. 83(11), 1562-1571. [Abstract]
  • Napier, I., Klimis, H., Rycroft, B., Jin, A., Alewood, P., Motin, L., Adams, D., Christie, M. (2012), Intrathecal α-conotoxins Vc1.1, AuIB and MII acting on distinct nicotinic receptor subtypes reverse signs of neuropathic pain. Neuropharmacology. 62(7), 2202-2207. [Abstract]
  • Murali, S., Napier, I., Rycroft, B., Christie, M. (2012), Opioid-related (ORL1) receptors are enriched in a subpopulation of sensory neurons and prolonged activation produces no functional loss of surface N-type calcium channels. Journal of Physiology. 590(Pt 7), 1655-1667. [Abstract]
  • Graeber, M., Christie, M. (2012), Multiple mechanisms of microglia: a gatekeeper's contribution to pain states. Experimental Neurology. 234(2), 255-261. [Abstract]
  • Lewis, R., Dutertre, S., Vetter, I., Christie, M. (2012), Conus venom peptide pharmacology. Pharmacological Reviews. 64(2), 259-298. [Abstract]
  • Dang, V., Christie, M. (2012), Mechanisms of rapid opioid receptor desensitization, resensitization and tolerance in brain neurons. British Journal of Pharmacology. 165(6), 1704-1716. [Abstract]
  • Napier, I., Mohammadi, S., Christie, M. (2012), Glutamate transporter dysfunction associated with nerve injury-induced pain in mice. Journal of Neurophysiology. 107(2), 649-657. [Abstract]


  • Bagley, E., Hacker, J., Chefer, V., Mallet, C., McNally, G., Chieng, B., Perroud, J., Shippenberg, T., Christie, M. (2011), Drug-induced GABA transporter currents enhance GABA release to induce opioid withdrawal behaviors. Nature neuroscience. 14(12), 1548-54. [Abstract]
  • Morgan, M., Christie, M. (2011), Analysis of Opioid Efficacy, Tolerance, Addiction, and Dependence from Cell Culture to Human. British journal of pharmacology. 164(4), 1322-34. [Abstract]
  • Pedersen, N., Vaughan, C., Christie, M. (2011), Opioid receptor modulation of GABAergic and serotonergic spinally-projecting neurons of the rostral ventromedial medulla in mice. Journal of neurophysiology. 106(2), 731-40. [Abstract]
  • Chieng, B., Azriel, Y., Mohammadi, S., Christie, M. (2011), Distinct cellular properties of identified dopaminergic and GABAergic neurons in the mouse ventral tegmental area. The Journal of physiology. 589(Pt 15), 3775-87. [Abstract]
  • de Araujo, A., Callaghan, B., Nevin, S., Daly, N., Craik, D., Moretta, M., Hopping, G., Christie, M., Adams, D., Alewood, P. (2011), Total synthesis of the analgesic conotoxin MrVIB through selenocysteine-assisted folding. Angewandte Chemie (International Edition). 50(29), 6527-6529. [Abstract]
  • Kawahara, H., Drew, G., Christie, M., Vaughan, C. (2011), Inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase unmasks CB(1) receptor and TRPV1 channel-mediated modulation of glutamatergic synaptic transmission in midbrain periaqueductal grey. British journal of pharmacology. 163(6), 1214-22. [Abstract]
  • Dang, V., Chieng, B., Azriel, Y., Christie, M. (2011), Cellular Morphine Tolerance Produced by {beta}Arrestin-2-Dependent Impairment of Opioid Receptor Resensitization. The Journal of Neuroscience. 31(19), 7122-7130. [Abstract]
  • Christie, M., Vaughan, C. (2011), Receptors: Cannabis medicine without a high. Nature Chemical Biology. 7(5), 249-250. [Abstract]
  • Klimis, H., Adams, D., Callaghan, B., Nevin, S., Alewood, P., Vaughan, C., Mozar, C., Christie, M. (2011), A novel mechanism of inhibition of high-voltage activated calcium channels by α-conotoxins contributes to relief of nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain. Pain. 152(2), 259-266. [Abstract]


  • Chieng, B., Christie, M. (2010), Somatostatin and nociceptin inhibit neurons in the central nucleus of amygdala that project to the periaqueductal grey. Neuropharmacology. 59(6), 425-30. [Abstract]
  • Morales, R., Daly, N., Vetter, I., Mobli, M., Napier, I., Craik, D., Lewis, R., Christie, M., King, G., Alewood, P., Durek, T. (2010), Chemical synthesis and structure of the prokineticin Bv8. Chembiochem. 11(13), 1882-1888. [Abstract]
  • Ittner, L., Ke, Y., Delerue, F., Bi, M., Gladbach, A., van Eersel, J., Wölfing, H., Chieng, B., Christie, M., Napier, I., Eckert, A., Staufenbiel, M., Hardeman, E., Götz, J. (2010), Dendritic Function of Tau Mediates Amyloid-beta Toxicity in Alzheimer's Disease Mouse Models. Cell. 142(3), 387-397. [Abstract]
  • Berecki, G., Motin, L., Haythornthwaite, A., Vink, S., Bansal, P., Drinkwater, R., Wang, C., Moretta, M., Lewis, R., Alewood, P., Christie, M., Adams, D. (2010), Analgesic omega-Conotoxins CVIE and CVIF Selectively and Voltage-Dependently Block Recombinant and Native N-Type Calcium Channels. Molecular Pharmacology. 77(2), 139-148. [Abstract]


  • Chieng, B., Christie, M. (2009), Chronic morphine treatment induces functional delta-opioid receptors in amygdala neurons that project to periaqueductal grey. Neuropharmacology. 57(4), 430-7. [Abstract]
  • Dang, V., Napier, I., Christie, M. (2009), Two distinct mechanisms mediate acute mu-opioid receptor desensitization in native neurons. Journal of Neuroscience. 29(10), 3322-3327. [Abstract]
  • Morgan, M., Ashley, M., Ingram, S., Christie, M. (2009), Behavioral Consequences of Delta-Opioid Receptor Activation in the Periaqueductal Gray of Morphine Tolerant Rats. Neural Plasticity. 2009, 516328. [Abstract]
  • Christie, M., Mallet, C. (2009), Endocannabinoids can open the pain gate. Science Signaling. 2(88), pe57. [Abstract]


  • Chieng, B., Lee, D., Du, Y., Osborne, P., Christie, M., Massotte, D. (2008), Functional coupling of mu-receptor-Galphai-tethered proteins in AtT20 cells. Neuroreport. 19(18), 1793-6. [Abstract]
  • Christie, M. (2008), Cellular neuroadaptations to chronic opioids: tolerance, withdrawal and addiction. British Journal of pharmacology. 154(2), 384-396. [Abstract]
  • Vikman, K., Rycroft, B., Christie, M. (2008), Switch to Ca2+ permeable AMPA and reduced NR2B NMDA receptor mediated neurotransmission at dorsal horn nociceptive synapses during inflammatory pain in the rat. The Journal of physiology. 586, 515-27. [Abstract]