Accepting PhD Students

  • Source: Scopus
1992 …2022

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Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

I am an immunologist interested in the cellular and molecular pathways which drive inflammation during disease pathology. I have a focused interest in a protease receptor called protease activated receptor 2 (PAR2)  which is expressed by both immune and non-immune cells. My work has demonstated a pivotal role for PAR2 in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and more recently in a life limiting and progressive lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. My research has allowed me to develop expertise in a number of applicable research tools, including in vitro and in vivo models of disease, molecular biology, immunohistochemistry, immunoassays and flow cytometry.

Current research activities

The primary aim of my work is identification of novel molecular targets which hold therapeutic promise for future drug discovery programmes.  My research activity is aligned with the Centre for Musculoskeletal Science (CMS) within the Institute of Biomedical and Environmental Health Research (IBEHR), University of the West of Scotland (UWS). My current work is focused around proteinase activated receptor 2 (PAR2) which has been shown to be a critical molecular checkpoint in inflammatory joint disease and cartilage homeostasis. I am specifically interested in the mechanisms by which PAR2 drives the pathological changes associated with arthritis. This includes projects looking at the role of PAR2 in innate and adaptive immune processes (Carnegie Research Incentive Grant).  

I have an interest in synovial tissue biology and the role played by the synovial fibroblast in OA joint inflammation and remodelling. This includes an interest small extracellular vesicles (sEV) from OA fibroblasts and their regulation of cartilage erosion (Tenovus Scotland).

I lead a collaborative study with University of Strahclyde and University of Glasgow which is looking at the therapeutic potential of  IKK alpha inhibitors on osteoclast cells which have been associted with pain in OA (Carnegie Collaborative Grant). 

My interest and expertise in PAR2 inflammation has recently been extended into the lung and a condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). I am a co-investigator on an European  Interreg VA funded programme of work called BREATH (Borders and REgions Airways Training Hub). I lead on projects looking at the role of PAR2 in lung epithelial cell inflammation. I have a specific interest in the interaction of PAR2 with other innate receptors, known as toll-like receptors or TLRs. I lead on a study looking at the therapeutic potential of PAR2 using small molecule inhibitors and gene editing approaches (Cunningham Trust PhD Studentship). 

Desired research direction

I continue to work closley with clinical collaborators (rheumatologists and respiratory physicians) in order to realise the translational potential of my reserach. I would be interested in looking at the role of PAR2 in other diseases where inflammation and fibrosis are key features. I have a particular interest in inflammaging and healthy aging and would like the opportunity to further study the role of the immune system and PAR2 in these areas. 

Target collaborative organisations

  • Academic partners
  • NHS
  • SME (Life Sciences)
  • Pharmaceutical Industry

Current teaching activities and interests

I teach undegraduate Biomedical Science and postgraduate MSc students within the School of Health and Life Sciences. I also deliver immunology teaching to undergraduate nursing students. I am involved in science communication through public enagagement with schools (primary and secondary) and the promotion of equal opportunities for girls. I have continued to deliver public engagemnet online during the pandemic. 

Undergraduate Teaching

I am Module Coordinator for Level 9 Bio-professional Practice and I teach immunology into the following modules:

  • Core Biomedical Science (Level 8)
  • Infection and Immunity (Level 9)
  • Clinical Immunology (Level 10)

I design and supervise honours reseach projects (Bioscience Research Project, Level 10), with students integrated into active research studies linked to arthritis and COPD.

Postgraduate Teaching

  • Research Techniques in Biotechnology (Level 11)
  • Bioanalysis (Level 11)

I design and supervise MSc laboratory projects, with students integrated into studies with a focus on translational reserach.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality

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