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About me

I am Course Leader for the BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences program, which is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, have an MA in Higher Education (University of Westminster) and am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.

I am Assistant Head of the School of Life Sciences and have responsibility for Curriculum Development and Student Experience. I am a Biochemist and lead undergraduate and postgraduate modules in Molecular Biology. I am joint academic lead for the iGEM project (International Genetically Engineered Machine). I am a  member of the Biochemical Society and British Pharmacological Society.

Teaching

My introduction to teaching was at the University College London where I was a tutor in the Medical School for a couple of years. Since joining University of Westminster I completed the Certificate of Higher Education (2007) becoming a Fellow of the HEA (2008), Senior Fellow of teh HEA (2015) and completing MA in Higher Education (University of Westminster, 2015). I was awarded a University of Westminster Teaching Fellowship in 2016-17. I am actively involved in pedagogic research into the impact of virtual laboratory simulations and peer-marking on teaching.

I currently lead Level 5 Molecular Biology and Genetics and level 6 and 7 Advanced Molecular Biology modules. I was the course leader for the Biological Science program (2014-19). I contribute teaching in bioethics, biochemistry, cell signalling and molecular biology to foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate students.

I have always believed that research should inform teaching and I supervise undergraduate and postgraduate research projects. I am actively involved with the Graduate Centre as an MPhil and PhD Chair and examiner.

Research

Following on from a BSc (Hons) degree in Medical Biochemistry (University of Surrey), during which I spent a fascinating Sandwich year working with Dr Steven Gross at Cornell University Medical College looking at the calcium and calmodulin regulation of nitric oxide synthases. I went back to New York to research transcriptional regulation of the GTP cyclohydrolase gene, which encodes for an important enzyme in tetrahydrobiopterin biosynthesis, an essential cofactor for the production of tyrosine, catecholamines and serotonin, as well as Nitric Oxide.

My PhD thesis "Pterin biosynthesis, binding and modulation of eNOS catalytic function" was examined and awarded by University of Surrey. As a post-doctoral research fellow at UCL I worked with Prof Patrick Vallance researching the pathophysiological effects of asymmetric dimethylarginine on the cardiovasculature.

Expanding upon endothelial cell signalling in the cardiovascular system to look at haemostatic regulation, Dr Gordge and I have investigated how thiol isomerases, including protein disulphide isomerase (PDI), influence fibrinolytic regulation at the endothelial surface. Inhibition of thiol isomerases reduces endothelial cell plasminogen activation, although not directly via tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).

University of Westminster has broadened my research horizons I developed collaborations with KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana through a project looking at how the incidence of malaria is influenced by alpha-thalassemia genotype.

I’m delighted to have contributed to the doctoral supervision of these talented scientists:

Opoku-Okrah, Clement (2012) An investigation of the protective effect of alpha+-thalassaemia against severe Plasmodium falciparum amongst children in Kumasi, Ghana.

Basnett, Pooja (2014) Biosynthesis of polyhydroxyalkanoates, their novel blends and composites for biomedical applications.

Dowejko, Monika (2014) Characterization of MC3 and the other melancortin receptors (MC) in the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal system of the mouse.

Jenks, Andrew (2014) The role of cancer stem cells in osteosarcoma.

Nasrin Nuri A. Berruien (2019) Effect of age and pregnancy on the murine melanocortin system in the female reproductive system.

I am currently collaborating with Dr Sharron Rossiter and University of Hertfordshire and Dr Joanne Murray, University of Edinburgh. I collaborate with the Tissue engineering and Cancer Research Groups. I have received funding from the Biochemical Society and Nuffield Society.

2016 - £915 Practical Skills Grant from Society of Endocrinology https://www.endocrinology.org/ for Nasrin Berruien to learn a novel Protein-Fragment complementation Assay at University of Edinburgh, Dr Joanne Murray, to investigate the potential cross talk between Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and ghrelin within the gonadotrophs and the somatotrophs

2017 - £400 Biochemical Society sponsored Events Grant Scheme for the University of Westminster iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) team

2017 - British Pharmacological Society bursary to present "In silico and in vitro approaches to develop Dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase-1 inhibitors". At  "In silico and in vitro methods in modern drug discovery", University of Nottingham 24-25th April 2017 http://www.pa2online.org/abstracts/vol15issue1abst006.pdf

2015-2018 Quintin Hogg Trust  £159000 to support development of Westminster based Labster simulations and evaluate their effectivenessin teaching

2016-2020 Quintin Hogg Trust  £25000 to support student teams for International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM project)

Pedagogical research: I am interested in how virtual laboratory simulations influence student learning and published findings and have presented  at national and international conferences. https://blog.labster.com/my-labster-experience-caroline-smith-westminster-university

Publications

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