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Assoc Prof Niru Nirthanan

Assoc Prof

Niru Nirthanan

Associate Professor
School of Medical Science - Anatomy Physiology and Biotechnology

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Dr. S. Niru Nirthanan graduated MBBS with a Gold Medal in Medicine in 1994 from the North Colombo Medical College, Sri Lanka. His PhD at the National University of Singapore, which detailed the structure and pharmacology of a novel family of snake toxins that are uniquely reversible in their action at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, was awarded the Gold Medal for the Most Outstanding Doctoral Research in 2002. Dr. Nirthanan received the Joseph Brooks Fellowship in Neurobiology from the Harvard Medical School, Boston, to conduct postdoctoral research from 2002 to 2005, where he identified and characterized the binding pocket of positive allosteric effectors in the nicotinic receptor, a discovery with significant potential for development of novel drugs for Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Nirthanan joined the National Neuroscience Institute of Singapore as Principal Investigator in 2006 and established a Neuropharmacology Drug Discovery Laboratory from inception, with over $ 1,000,000 in nationally competitive and institutional grant funding. He relocated to Griffith University as faculty in 2008, where his current research in neurobiology, pharmacology and toxinology, underpinned by strong international collaborations, focuses on the role of nicotinic receptors in health and disease and discovery of therapeutic leads from animal venoms. Dr. Nirthanan is deeply passionate about teaching and continues to engage in research in medical education, focusing on the use of technology in learning and teaching, transition of students from pre-medicine to medicine and factors impacting on resilience among medical students. His contributions to learning and teaching at Griffith University have been recognized a Health Faculty Citation for Excellence in Teaching in 2010, Griffith Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010 and an Office for Learning and Teaching (Australian Government) Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning in 2011. Dr. Nirthanan was elected Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) in 2018, and also serves as the Academic Ambassador for the British Pharmacological Society at Griffith University.


  • Doctor Of Philosophy
    National University of Singapore
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
    North Colombo Medical College