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About me

After graduating from the University of Portsmouth with a BSc (Hons) degree in Biomedical Sciences, I stayed on to do a PhD focussing on protein biochemistry and wound healing before moving to University College London (UCL) in 1994 as a post-doctoral scientist. During my time at UCL I was based in the Centre for Rheumatology and the Department of Molecular Pathology where my research focussed on Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease and the control of gene expression by transcription factors.

I joined the University of Westminster in 1999 as a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science and set up my own research lab focussed on the role of cell death in connective tissue disease and repair, and in particular its role in degenerative rheumatic diseases such as osteoarthritis and related conditions.

I am a Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Science (FIBMS) and the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and a member of the British Society for Immunology and the Biochemical Society. I am also a member of the executive committee of the Heads of University Centres of Biomedical Science.

Teaching

My main specialism is immunology and I teach a variety of students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels as well as leading immunology modules within the Department of Biomedical Sciences and across the wider Biological Sciences.

After leading the BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences degree for nearly 10 years I am now the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Biomedical and Biosciences programmes in the Faculty of Science and Technology. As the Director of Undergraduate Studies I co-ordinate the taught BSc programmes In Biomedical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Biochemistry and Pharmacology within the school and have a role in the management and review of existing courses and the development and validation of new programmes.

As an active researcher, I also direct and supervise PhD students with 9 successful completions to date.

Research

My research interests are centred on connective tissue biology, disease and repair.

Current research focuses on two main areas; the contribution of apoptotic cell death to connective tissue disease and tissue repair after wounding. The current focus of my research is the role of the chondrocyte in the maintenance of healthy articular cartilage and the apparent chondrocyte death associated with the clinical manifestation of Osteoarthritis (OA).

Work to date in this area concentrates on the role and mode of action of the Urocortin (Ucn) family of peptides, members of which have shown to be protective against apoptotic cell death. Chondrocyte expression of Ucn family peptides has been established and current research focusses on their regulation and properties. Data is also beginning to suggest a role for the Urocortin system in the regulation of osteoclast and osteoblast activity and hence bone repair and turnover. We are therefore also studying the greater role urocortin signalling at the cartilage/ subchondral bone interface.

A second line of research in this area concerns the study of chondrocyte growth and activity in an in-vitro 3D environment and their ability to remodel that environment to produce a cartilage like structure.Tissue repair research centres on the mechanisms of wound healing and the roles of the cell types involved in that process.

I am also interested in medical/ surgical intervention to accelerate wound healing and tissue repair including the effects of topical medicaments and the production of scaffolds/ tissue engineered 'neo-tissues' to repair and restore function to damaged tissues/ organs. Current research centres on the effects of medicaments at a cellular level and the development of bio-compatible scaffolds that are capable of supporting the growth of cells present in the wound environment including keratinocytes, fibroblasts and endothelial cells. 

Ongoing Projects

  • The role of the Urocortin system in maintaining chondrocyte viability, cartilage structure and joint integrity.
  • The role of the Urocortin system in the regulation of osteclast and osteoblast function.
  • Development of a Dual-Axis Construct Stimulator (DACS) device to emulate the forces present in diarthroidal joints stimulating the generation of neo-tissue by chondrocytes in 3D culture Development and testing of biocompatible material scaffolds to aid tissue repair and regeneration
  • The effect of wound cleansing and treatment regimes on connective tissue repair

I am a member of the Tissue Architecture and Regeneration research group.

Publications

For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.