This research looks at the molecular pharmacology of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), including those that have neuropeptide ligands. A major focus is the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptors, which are highly significant in the treatment of migraine.

CGRP is abundant in sensory neurons and may play a broader role in pain signalling, beyond migraine.

Principal investigator: Prof Debbie Hay Professor Debbie Hay image


  • CGRP and related receptors – pharmacology and cellular signalling profiles in model cell systems, such as characterising new drugs as well as endogenous ligands.
  • Ability of peptides to activate and inhibit pain in animal models.
  • Determining where the peptides and receptors are expressed in pain-relevant locations in animal models and human tissues.
  • Collaborative human clinical studies on migraine provocation
  • Collaborative studies to develop novel animal models of receptor expression and behaviour

Google Scholar citations: Neuropeptides and pain

Early career researchers

Early careers researchers involved:
Michael Garelja, post-doc
Lewis Forrester, ARF
Tyla Alexander, PhD student
Lara Dalldorf, honours student

News and events

Past seminars

Thursday 19th August 2021
Targeting the CGRP pathway in migraine
Professor Debbie Hay

Prizes and awards

Tyla Alexander, First prize for Postgraduate Oral Presentation at the University of Otago PERC and Health Sciences EMCR joint symposium 2022


1.Kotliar, I., Lorenzen, E., Schwenk, J.M., Hay, D.L., ^Sakmar, T.P. Elucidating the Interactome of G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and Receptor-Activity Modifying Proteins (RAMPs), Pharmacological Reviews, accepted.
2. Garelja, M.L., ^Hay, D.L. A narrative review of the calcitonin peptide family and associated receptors as migraine targets: CGRP and beyond. Headache, in press, 2022.
3.^Hay, D.L., Walker, C.S., Harris, P.W.R. Atogepant (Qulipta) for the prevention of migraine attacks, Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 43(8):701-702, 2022.
4.Rees, T.A., Russo, A.F., O'Carroll, S.J., ^Hay, D.L., ^Walker, C.S. CGRP and the calcitonin receptor are co-expressed in mouse, rat and human trigeminal ganglia neurons. Frontiers in Physiology, 13:860037, 2022.
5.^Brain, S.D., Russo, A.F., Hay, D.L. Editorial: calcitonin gene-related peptide: novel biology and treatments. Frontiers in Physiology, 13:964568, 2022
6.Tesfay, B., Karlsson, W.K., Moreno, R.D., Hay, D.L., Hougaard, A. Is CGRP a reliable biochemical marker of migraine? Current Opinion In Neurology, 35(3):343-352, 2022.
7.*Hendrikse, E.R., *Rees, T.A., Tasma, Z., Le Foll, C., Lutz, T.A., Siow, A., Wookey, P.J., Walker, C.S., ^Hay, D.L. Calcitonin receptor antibody validation and expression in rodent brain. Cephalalgia, 42(9):815-826, 2022.
8.Cao, J., Belousoff, M.J., Liang, Y-L., Johnson, R.M., Josephs, T.M., Fletcher, M.M., Christopoulos, A., Hay, D.L., Danev, R., ^Wootten, D., ^Sexton, P.M. A structural basis for amylin receptor phenotype. Science, 375(6587): eabm9609, 2022.
9.*Jamaluddin, A., *Chuang, C-L., Williams, E.T., Siow, A., Yang, S.H., Harris, P.W., Petersen, J., Bower, R.L., Chand, S., Brimble, M.A., ^Walker, C.S., ^Hay, D.L., ^Loomes, K.M. Lipidated calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) peptide antagonists retain CGRP receptor activity and attenuate CGRP action in vivo. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 13:832589, 2022.
10.Kobayashi, A., Hamuda, M., Yoshida, MA, Kobayashi, Y., Tsutsui, N., Sekiguchi, T., Matsukawa, Y., Maejima, S., Gingell, J.J., Sekiguchi, S., Hamamoto, A., Hay, D.L., Morris, J.F., Sakamoto, T., Sakamoto, H. Ancestral vasopressin/oxytocin-related peptide in marine planarians. Science Advances, 8(9):eabk0331, 2022.
11.Tasma, Z., Siow, A., Harris, P.W.R., Brimble, M.A., Hay, D.L., ^Walker, C.S. Characterisation of agonist signalling profiles and agonist-dependent antagonism at PACAP-responsive receptors: implications for drug discovery. British Journal of Pharmacology, 179(3):435-453, 2022.
12.Garelja, M.L., Bower, R.L., Brimble, M.A., Chand, S., Harris, P.W.R., Jamaluddin, M.A., Petersen, J., Siow, A., Walker, C.S., ^Hay, D.L. Pharmacological characterisation of mouse calcitonin and calcitonin receptor-like receptors reveals differences compared to human receptors. British Journal of Pharmacology, 179(3)416-434, 2022.
13.Rees, T.A., Hendrikse, E.R., ^Hay, D.L., ^Walker, C.S. Beyond CGRP: the calcitonin peptide family as targets for migraine and pain. British Journal of Pharmacology, 179(3):381-399, 2022.
14.Garelja, M.L, Walker, C.S., ^Hay, D.L. CGRP receptor antagonists for migraine – are they also AMY1 receptor antagonists? British Journal of Pharmacology, 179(3):454-459, 2022.


National presentations (Hay):
Metabolic and Heart Satellite of the Queenstown Molecular Biology meeting, plenary lecture.QueenstownAugust 2022
ASCEPT NZ, ASCEPT lecturerQueenstownSeptember 2022
Biochemistry Department, University of Otago, seminarDunedinJuly 2022

International presentations (Hay):
IASP World Congress on Pain, topical workshop Canada – in personSept 2022
Migraine Trust International Symposium, plenary lectureLondon – in personSept 2022
Experimental Biology, plenary lecture. Withdrew due to NZ border restrictions.USA – in personApril 2022
CGRP 2022, plenary lectureUK/virtualApril 2022
International Conference on Advances in Migraine Sciences 2022, plenary lectureDenmark/HybridMarch 2022


Prof Debbie Hay:

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