I studied for a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Auckland, New Zealand before completing a Master of Science (Experimental Medicine) at Université Laval, Canada. My doctorate was done here at the University of Westminster where I worked on human and applied physiology, examining myostatin regulation during acute hypoxic insult.
I teach human physiology, scientific communication and research methodologies across undergraduate and graduate programmes, as well as maintaining an active research programme into muscle atrophy, frailty and aging. I lead the Translational Physiology Research Group, whose remit is translation of in vitro into the in vivo human to better understand human physiology. I currently supervise three doctoral researchers, Yvoni Kyriakidou and Isabella Cooper who are based in the School of Life Sciences, University of Westminster, and Alex Green, who is based in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, full member and society representative with the Physiological Society, and a member of the Society for Endocrinology, the Society on Sarcopenia, Cachexia and Wasting Disorders, and the British Society for Research on Ageing.
I also engage in wider scientific communication where possible, writing for print media, providing commentary on news stories, and appearing in documentaries for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. I also host the Different Conversations Podcast.
My primary teaching role is in physiology. I lead the School of Life Sciences largest module (level 4 Human Physiology), as well as contributing to physiology modules across all levels of the undergraduate and post-graduate curriculum. I have a deep belief in research lead teaching and integrate research methods into my teaching wherever possible. Besides this core area, I contribute to both medical ethics and science communication. I also take researchers at the undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral levels, with my students working in areas that are closely aligned with my research interests (ageing, lifelong health, longevity, and the regulation of muscle mass).
My research can be described as translational physiology and examines the effect of atrophic stimuli upon muscle size both in vitro and in vivo, with particular focus on the regulation of cell size and the role of the activin family of hormones in this process. In vitro, I use the C2C12 mouse myoblast line, perturbed with atrophic or hypertrophic stimuli, before examining changes in cell size by microscopy and alterations in cellular signalling pathways by Western blot. In vivo healthy humans are exposed to stimuli such as disuse, feeding, hypoxia or resistance training, with blood and muscle tissue collected for analysis. By understanding the basic science of how muscle is gained and lost when homeostasis is challenged, I aim to uncover the mechanisms underlying atrophy of muscle during disease and ageing, and ultimately prevent them.