Grant Churchill

Grant Churchill

Organising Tutor for Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; Tutor in Medicine; Professor of Chemical Pharmacology
BSA MSc Saskatchewan, MA Oxf, PhD Minnesota

The path to my current field of pharmacology and medicine was circuitous and based far more on luck than design. Initially, I intended to take over the family farm in the middle of nowhere on the Canadian prairies. So, I obtained a bachelor's degree in Agriculture in 1989 and a master's degree in Crop Science in 1992, both from the University of Saskatchewan. The poor agricultural economy combined with my newfound love of scientific research, induced me pursue an academic career. (Ironically, my sister and I now own and manage said family farm.) During my MSc, research on structure-activity relationships for the plant hormone abscisic acid generated my interest how chemistry can be used to probe biological function. With funding for plant sciences drying up, I then switched fields and obtained a PhD in Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology from the University of Minnesota, studying calcium regulation in the lens of the eye. Instilled with a passion for calcium signalling, I came to Oxford to do a 5-year postdoc with Professor Antony Galione in 1998. I’ve not been able to leave. During my time in Oxford I have held the Todd-Bird Junior Research Fellowship at New College, been a Fellow at St Cross College, held a Senior Research Fellowship at New College and am now Medical Tutor at New College and Professor of Chemical Pharmacology in the Department of Pharmacology.

When I arrived in Oxford, I thought all teaching did was take away from time for research, but Oxford has taught me that teaching and research can inform one another to great benefit. Moreover, I’m now passionately committed to teaching with highlights that include developing a course called Chemical Pharmacology, which is optional yet well attended, and I am pleased to have received the ‘Most Acclaimed Lecturer Award’ in 2012 within the Medical Sciences Division as decided by the Oxford University Student Union.

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