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About me

I graduated from the School of Pharmacy, London in 1995 with a BSc (Hons) Toxicology and Pharmacology; this Sandwich degree encompassed a year's industrial experience at the Wellcome Research laboratories, Beckenham, Kent under the guidance of Dr Mike Yeadon.

Following graduation I undertook a research assistant and part-time PhD position looking at the role of annexin 1 and melanocortin peptides in experimental inflammation at the William Harvey Research Institute, Bart's and the London Medical Schools (supervisors Professor Mauro Perretti and Professor Rod Flower, FRS) which encompassed a period of training at Monash Medical School, Melbourne, Australia in the laboratory of Professor Eric Morand.

During my PhD, I identified the melanocortin type 3 receptor, as a novel target for modulating the host inflammatory response and was awarded the C. Gordon Van Arman award for Excellence in Inflammation Research from the Inflammation Research Association in 1998.

Following my PhD, I undertook a post-doctoral position (2000-2005) at the William Harvey Research Institute unravelling the anti-inflammatory effects of the melanocortin peptides in models of arthritis, and respiratory disease. During this time I was awarded a fellowship at the Second University of Naples, under the guidance of Professor Michele D'Amico evaluating the role of the melanocortin type 3 receptor, in cardiovascular disease and was awarded the Derek Willoughby Young Investigator Award at the 5th World Congress on Inflammation in 2001.

In 2006 I joined the Thoracic medicine group at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London as a senior postdoctoral scientist with Professors Ian Adcock and Kaz Ito evaluating the role of HDAC2 in COPD. Following this position I took up a senior lectureship in Pharmacology at the University of Westminster in the Department of Human and Health Sciences, School of Life Sciences and was awarded a post graduate certificate in higher education in 2009 and fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2010. From 2010 to 2017, i was research co-ordinator for the Cell Communication Research Cluster across the Faculty of Science and Technology with the remit of fostering links across other research platforms and involving undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral scientists within the development of the cluster. I was a member of the Faculty Research Committee from 2010-2017  and am currently a member of the School of Life Sciences Research Committee.

To date I have published over 150 articles including 55 (papers, reviews), 2 book chapters including papers in Nature Medicine, J. Ex. Med, British Journal of Pharmacology, Journal of Immunology, Arthritis and Rheumatism, TIPS and FASEB J. I have also supervised 11 students to PhD completion.


I am a Principal Lecturer in Pharmacology and was divisional coordinator for Biochemistry, Pharmacology and Applied Biology from 2016 to Jan 2019 and PhD admissions tutor from 2014-2018 and hold a postgraduate certificate in education and fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

I deliver pharmacology, physiology, toxicology and drug discovery teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Currently I am the module leader for the second year pharmacology module Systems Pharmacology and two final year modules, Drug Discovery with Immunopharmacology and Work experience and Career Management skills and the level 7 module Introduction to pharmacology and drug development. Within these modules we aim to allow students to become autonomous learners and develop their research skills, through critically evaluating research articles, researching novel techniques and identifying new lines of research to enhance these studies and identifying the skills required for the workplace. Utilization of research and technology within my teaching allows the students to develop core translatable skills designed to enhance their learning and future employability.

In addition to these module leaderships I provide teaching, practical and project supervision across all levels within the College including supervision of PhD students


Current research 

I am a pharmacologist interested in unraveling the biological effects of endogenous modulators and natural products on the host inflammatory response and cell protection and have supervised 11 students to completion of their PhD. My main interest is understanding the role played by the melanocortin peptides and natural products. The aim of this research is to understand their mechanism of action of these compounds and identification of the target receptors for pharmacological manipulation and subsequent disease treatment. Understanding how these naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents exhibit a dual mechanism of action i.e. an early phase inhibition of cytokine release and a late induction of pro-resolving pathways is an exciting development. This research will hopefully lead to development of novel therapeutics to treat some of the biggest debilitating diseases that we face including arthritis and cerebral ischaemia. At present my main research areas involve looking at the biological effects of these peptides and natural products in human osteoarthritic cell-lines and in models of neuroinflammation and neuroprotection.

Research group 

Tissue Architecture and Regeneration Research Group

Research students 

Vedia Can, Sirisha Yerramalli

Research projects 

Investigation into the role that melanocortin and other endogenous anti-inflammatory peptides play in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis determining their chondroprotective and anti-inflammatory role. In addition projects are looking at the role of these endogenous peptides in cerebral ischaemia and neuroprotection.

Transferable skills include 

Experimental design and implementation, statistical analysis, cell culture, biochemical assays, PCR and western blotting.

Projects areas include 

Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis (chondroprotection) and cerebral ischaemia (neuroprotection)

Membership of professional bodies

  • British Pharmacological Society
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Selected Publications

Can VC, Locke IC, Kaneva MK, Kerrigan MJP, Merlino F, De Pasclae C, Grieco P, Getting SJ (2020) Novel anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects of the human melanocortin MC1 receptor agonist BMS-470539 dihydrochloride and human melanocortin MC3 receptor agonist PG-990 on lipolysaccharide activated chondrocytes. Eur J Pharmacol 872:172971, doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2020.172971

Momen-Heravi FGetting SJMoschos SA. (2018) Extracellular vesicles and their nucleic acids for biomarker discovery. Pharmacol Ther. 2018 Dec;192:170-187. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2018.08.002

Rossi S, Maisto R, Gesualdo C, Trotta MC, Ferraraccio F, Kaneva MK, Getting SJ, Surace E, Testa F, Simonelli F, Grieco P, Merlino F, Perretti M, D'Amico M, Di Filippo C. (2016) Activation of Melanocortin Receptors MC 1 and MC 5 Attenuates Retinal Damage in Experimental Diabetic Retinopathy. Mediators Inflamm. Published online 2016 Jan 12. doi:  10.1155/2016/7368389

Holloway PM, Durrenberger PF, Trutschl M, Cvek U, Cooper D, Orr AW, Perretti M, Getting SJ, Gavins FN. Both MC1 and MC3 Receptors Provide Protection From Cerebral Ischemia-Reperfusion-Induced Neutrophil Recruitment. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2015 Sep; 35(9): 1936–1944. Published online 2015 Jun 25. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.115.305348

Magdalena K. Kaneva, Mark J.P. Kerrigan, Paolo Grieco, G. Paul Curley, Ian C. Locke and Stephen J. Getting (2014). Melanocortin peptides protect chondrocytes from mechanically induced cartilage injury. Biochem Pharmacol: S0006-2952(14)00492-4. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2014.08.019. [Epub ahead of print] 

Intekhab-Alam, NY., White, OB., Getting, SJ., Petsa, A., Knight, RA., Chowdrey, HS., Townsend, PA., Lawerence, KM. and Locke, IC. (2013) Urocortin protects chondrocytes from NO-induced apoptosis: a future therapy for osteoarthritis? Cell Death and Disease 4:e717

Gavins, FN., Hughes, EL., Buss, NA., Holloway, PM., Getting, SJ., Buckingham, JC (2012). Leukocyte recruitment in the brain in sepsis: involvement of the annexin 1- FPR2/ALX anti-inflammatory system. FASEB J. 26(12): 4977-89. 

Magdalena K. Kaneva, Mark J.P. Kerrigan, Paolo Grieco, G. Paul Curley, Ian C. Locke and Stephen J. Getting (2012). Anti-Inflammatory effects of Melanocortin peptides in TNF-α activated human C-20/A4 chondrocytes. Br J. Pharmacol 167(1) 67-79.

Holloway, PM., Smith, HK., Renshaw, D., Flower RJ., Getting SJ. and Gavins FN (2011). Targeting the melanocortin receptor system for anti-stroke therapy. Trends Pharmacol Sci 32(2): 90-98. 

Patel, HB., Bombardieri, M., Sampaio, A., D'Acuquisto, F., Gray, M., Grieco, P., Getting, S.J., Pitzalis, C. and Perretti, M. (2010) Anti-inflammatory and antiosteoclastogenesis properties of endogenous melanocortin receptor type 3 in experimental arthritis. Faseb J. 24(12): 4835-4843.