Dr Sanam Mustafa

Sanam Mustafa
ARC Senior Research Associate
Adelaide Medical School
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Connect with me

External Profiles

Dr Sanam Mustafa

Dr Sanam Mustafa is a trained Molecular Pharmacologist with a special interest in the study of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signalling and regulation.

Dr Mustafa completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 2004 with a M.Sci (Honours) in Genetics. This included an Industrial work placement year at the Comparative Genomics department of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Dr Mustafa then trained in one of the world's leading laboratories researching GPCRs under the supervision of Prof Graeme Milligan and Dr Alan Wise. This PhD studentship was co-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and GSK. During her case studentship, Dr Mustafa had the invaluable opportunity to spend 3 months in the high throughput-screening department of GSK.

Following a short postdoctoral position in collaboration with Almiral, in 2009 Dr Mustafa joined A/Prof Kevin Pfleger's group at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research at the University of Western Australia. Here Dr Mustafa expanded her skill-set to encompass the study of protein-protein interactions at a more detailed level. Alongside academic research projects, Dr Mustafa conducted contract research work for Dimerix Bioscience. This included project management of a research contract outsourced by Takeda Cambridge. Other responsibilities included the teaching and examination of undergraduate students.

Dr Mustafa then moved to the University of Adelaide to join A/Prof Mark Hutchinson’s Neuroimmunopharmacology group and widened her research interests to include Toll-like receptors. Here Dr Mustafa is investigating receptor-receptor interactions and their role in intracellular signalling, with particular interest in the pain domain.

Working closely with physicists and chemists, Dr Mustafa has now also accepted a Senior Research Associate position at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics to develop novel tools for sensing and investigating intracellular signalling.

Dr Mustafa is also a member of the Biological Sensing and Medical Diagnostics theme within the Institute of Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).

Her skill-set includes techniques such as molecular biology (PCR, RT-PCR), confocal microscopy, immunocytochemistry, Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET), chemotaxis, ERK, [32P] orthophosphate phosphorylation and ELISA assays. Dr Mustafa experienced in the use of in vitro over expression systems.


Date Position Institution name
2014 ARC Senior Research Fellow University of Adelaide
2014 - 2014 University Research Fellow School of Medical Sciences
2013 - 2014 Research Associate School of Medical Sciences
2013 - 2013 Scientific and medical writer iX Biopharma Limited
2013 - 2013 Case Based Learning tutor University of Adelaide
2009 - 2011 Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Western Australia
2008 - 2009 Postdoctoral Researcher University of Glasgow

Awards and Achievements

Date Type Title Institution Name Amount
2010 Award Prize for best poster
2007 Award Prize for best poster
2007 Award Prize for best poster


Date Institution name Country Title
2004 - 2008 University of Glasgow United Kingdom PhD in Molecular Pharmacology
1999 - 2004 University of Glasgow United Kingdom M.Sci (Honours)


Year Citation
2017 Jacobsen, J. H. W., Buisman-Pijlman, F. T., Mustafa, S., Rice, K. C. & Hutchinson, M. R. (2017). Antagonising TLR4-TRIF signalling before or after a low-dose alcohol binge during adolescence prevents alcohol drinking but not seeking behaviour in adulthood.. Neuropharmacology, 128, 460-473.
2017 Jacobsen, J., Buisman-Pijlman, F., Mustafa, S., Rice, K. & Hutchinson, M. (2017). The efficacy of (+)-Naltrexone on alcohol preference and seeking behaviour is dependent on light-cycle. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, -.
2016 Jacobsen, J., Hutchinson, M. & Mustafa, S. (2016). Drug addiction: targeting dynamic neuroimmune receptor interactions as a potential therapeutic strategy. Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 26, 131-137.
2016 Jacobsen, J., Parker, L., Everest-Dass, A., Schartner, E., Tsiminis, G., Staikopoulos, V. ... Mustafa, S. (2016). Novel imaging tools for investigating the role of immune signalling in the brain. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 58, 40-47.
2014 Watkins, L. R., Wang, X., Mustafa, S. & Hutchinson, M. R. (2014). In vivo veritas: (+)-Naltrexone's actions define translational importance. A letter in response to Skolnick et al. 'Translational potential of naloxone and naltrexone as TLR4 antagonists'. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, 35, 9, 432-433.
2013 Mustafa, S., Hannagan, J., Rigby, P., Pfleger, K. & Corry, B. (2013). Quantitative Föster resonance energy transfer efficiency measurements using simultaneous spectral unmixing of excitation and emission spectra. Journal of Biomedical Optics, 18, 2, 026024-1-026024-14.
2012 Mustafa, S., See, H., Seeber, R., Armstrong, S., White, C., Sabatino, V. ... Pfleger, K. (2012). Identification and profiling of novel a1A-adrenoceptor-CXC chemokine receptor 2 heteromer. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287, 16, 12952-12965.
2012 Brown, R., Mustafa, S., Ayoub, M., Dodd, P., Pfleger, K. & Lawrence, A. (2012). mGlu5 receptor functional interactions and addiction. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 3, 84-.
2011 Mustafa, S. & Pfleger, K. (2011). G protein-coupled receptor heteromer identification technology: identification and profiling of GPCR heteromers. Journal of Laboratory Automation, 16, 4, 285-291.
2011 Tarrason, G., Auli, M., Mustafa, S., Dolgachev, V., Domenech, M., Prats, N. ... Godessart, N. (2011). The sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor-1 antagonist, W146, causes early and short-lasting peripheral blood lymphopenia in mice. International Immunopharmacology, 11, 1135, 1773-1779.
2010 Mustafa, S., Ayoub, M. & Pfleger, K. (2010). Uncovering GPCR heteromer-biased ligands. Drug Discovery Today: Technologies, 7, 1, e77-e85.

Book Chapters

Year Citation
2015 Thomas, J., Sanam, M., Johnson, J. & Nicotra, L. (2015). The relationship between opioids and immune signalling in the spinal cord. In (pp. 207-238).

Conference Papers

Year Citation
2016 Staikopoulos, V., Gosnell, M., Anwer, A., Mustafa, S., Hutchinson, M. & Goldys, E. (2016). Hyperspectral imaging of endogenous fluorescent metabolic molecules to identify pain states in central nervous system tissue. SPIE BioPhotonics Australasia Conference. M. Hutchinson & E. Goldys (Eds.) Adelaide, AUSTRALIA.
2016 Peddie, V., Heng, S., Mustafa, S., Thomas, J., Hutchinson, M. & Abell, A. (2016). Shapeshifting photoswitchable azobenzene compounds and their biological applications. SPIE BioPhotonics Australasia Conference. M. Hutchinson & E. Goldys (Eds.) Adelaide, AUSTRALIA.
Monetary Awards

Dr Mustafa has been awarded the Barbara Kidman Fellowship for funding commencing 2017.

The School of Medical Sciences awarded 13,500 AUD for the purchase of centrifuge equipment in July 2015.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics awarded 19,000 AUD in May 2015 towards the purchase of equipment for a cell culture facility.
A 500 AUD travel award was granted by the Adelaide Pharmacology Group to attend the International ASCEPT-MPGPCR meeting in Melbourne in December 2014.
8908 AUD was awarded by the School of Medical Sciences towards the purchase of automated cell counters in October 2014.
IPAS Extending Collaborations Pilot Projects 2013: In-vivo neuroinflamation and neuroimmune diagnostic in live rat central nervous system, 20,000 AUD. Hutchinson, Klaric, Mustafa, Dr François, Schartner, Purdey, Monro
IPAS Extending Collaborations Pilot Projects 2013: Nature probing nature – a living sensor for drug discovery, 2000 AUD. François, Hutchinson, Mustafa, Yool and Monro
The University of Western Australia awarded 750 AUD towards the cost of attending the ELRIG Drug Discovery Conference in Manchester in September 2011.
Recipient of the Tony B academic travel award (>3000 USD) to attend SLAS LabAutomation meeting in Palm Springs, January 2011.
A 500 AUD travel award was granted by the organizers towards the attendance of the Molecular Pharmacology GPCR meeting in Melbourne in December 2010.
Successful for two travel awards; 1000 AUD from WAIMR and a further 750 AUD from the University of Western Australia, to attend the ELRIG Drug Discovery Conference in Coventry in September 2010.
Awarded £100 from the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) to attend the BPS 3rd focused meeting “Cell Signalling” in Leicester in April 2009.

Medicine Learning and Teaching Unit (MLTU), University of Adelaide

Case Based Learning tutor for 2nd year medical students (2013)

In-depth preparation for group workshop sessions, facilitation of discussions to encourage knowledge consolidation and clinical reasoning, and oral and written assessment of students including providing constructive feedback.

Dr Mustafa co-supervises four PhD students.

Jonathan Henry Jacobsen, "TLR4 signalling in alcohol binge drinking during adolescence"

Jiajun Liu, "Mechanisms of stress-induced immune sensitivity"

Samuel Evans, "Understanding the functional relationship between Toll-Like Receptor 4 and TRPV1 in chronic pain."

Azim Arman, "Advance methodology for preclinical assessment of hypernocicpetion"

Committee Memberships

Date Role Committee Institution Country
2016 - ongoing Representative CNBP Adelaide node Early Career Researcher ARC Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics Australia
2016 - ongoing Member ECR/MCR committee member University of Adelaide
2015 - ongoing Chair Biological challenges forum ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale and BioPhotonics
2013 - ongoing Member Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS)
2010 - 2011 Member Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR
2004 - 2007 Member Biochemical Society
2004 - ongoing Member British Pharmacological Society (BPS)

Editorial Boards

Date Role Editorial Board Name Country
2014 - ongoing Board Member Frontiers in Cellular Endocrinology
ARC Senior Research Associate
8313 4099
North Terrace
Medical School South
Room Number
5 11a
Org Unit
Adelaide Medical School