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Past research staff and students

Edward Bowen

Ed Bowen

Edward completed his PhD in the Jack Birch Unit and is now working as a Medical Writer at Covance in Leeds.

Lucinda Cowling

Photo of Lucinda Cowling

Lucinda completed her PhD in the Jack Birch Unit.


Tom Crighton (PhD Student)


Tom obtained a BSc (Honours) in Medical Genetics from Swansea University before graduating from the University of Liverpool with an MRes in Biomedical Sciences & Translational Medicine. He is currently studying for a PhD funded by York Against Cancer and is supervised by Professor Jenny Southgate and Dr Simon Baker.


The lack of progress made in generating viable treatments for muscle-invasive bladder cancer over the past two decades highlights the pressing need to devise novel, targeted therapies for the disease. Work undertaken in the lab using Normal Human Urothelial (NHU) cells in vitro has found that these cells in a proliferative state activate different growth-regulating signal transduction pathways to NHU cells that have undergone differentiation. 

Tom’s project will utilise a mix of bladder cancer cell lines alongside the established NHU system to explore what pathways drive urothelial tumorigenesis and growth in basal-like urothelial cancers compared to cancers with a more differentiated, ‘luminal’, phenotype.  Knowledge of alternative signalling pathways that power the different subtypes of bladder cancer will stratify muscle-invasive bladder cancer and identify potential therapeutic targets.

Carwyn Edwards

Carwyn Edwards

Carwyn completed his PhD in the Jack Birch Unit and is now working as a Medical Writer.

Carl Fishwick

Carl completed a PhD in the Jack Birch Unit and also worked for a period of time as a Postdoctoral Researcher.

He is now working as a Scientific Investigator in Genomic Research in the Target Science Division at GSK.



Olivia Foody (Research Technician)

Olivia was a research technician in the Jack Birch Unit.

Amy Glover

Glover Amy

Amy worked as a Commerical Research Technician in the Jack Birch Unit and now works as a Research Technician at the University of Leeds.

Shu Guo

Shu Guo

Shu completed an MPhil in the Jack Birch Unit and is now studying for a PhD in Neurogenetics at the University of Florida, USA.


Henry Hardaker

Henry completed a Masters by Research in the Jack Birch Unit.

Arianna Hustler

Arianna Hustler

Arianna completed her PhD in the Jack Birch unit and is now working as a Scientist for a Medical Diagnostic Company.

Jessica Jinks (Industrial placement student)

Jessica undertook an Industrial Placement in the Jack Birch Unit during 2017/2018 and then returned to The University of Manchester to finish her Bsc Degree in Biomedical Sciences.

Dr Annu Joseph (Research Associate)


Annu Joseph

After completing her PhD from Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, India, Annu worked as a research associate at National Centre for Biological Sciences, funded by a fellowship from Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. She has recently joined Jack Birch Unit as a postdoctoral research associate funded by Wellcome Trust Leap programme towards identifying the molecular factors involved in the generation of functional urothelium and its integration with kidney organoids.


End-stage kidney disease is a potentially fatal kidney disorder where the patients cannot survive without dialysis or kidney transplantation. Development in tissue engineering has opened up avenues in cell-based therapies for treatment of the disease. One approach is by using kidney organoids in an active plumbing system to supplement the failing host kidneys. Annu’s work under the Leap programme would involve the generation of urothelial tissue from adult tissue or pluripotent stem cells, which could be effectively integrated with kidney organoids towards a functional ureter. She also aims to identify the molecular cues which can promote urothelial regeneration and integration of urothelial tissue with kidney organoids.

Lizi Kidger

Lizi completed an MD in the Jack Birch Unit and is continuing as a Urology Trainee within the Yorkshire and Humber deanery.

Zhen Liu (PhD Student)


Zhen Liu has a BSc in Drug synthesis and design from Tianjin University of Science & Technology and an MSc in Biotechnology from New York University before working as a research assistant in SIBET of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is currently studying for a PhD supervised by Professor Jenny Southgate and Dr Dawn Coverley.


Although some of molecular changes that accompany the activation of the specific nuclear receptor PPARγ during urothelial differentiation are understood, there is much still unknown. It is becoming evident that in addition to changes in chromatin organisation that influence gene expression, there are accompanying alterations to the nuclear architecture upon which the DNA and accompanying machinery is scaffolded to establish specific gene expression programmes. Zhen Liu’s project will use in vitro approaches to illustrate the role and compartmentalisation of PPARγ isoform 1 and PPARγ isoform 2 in urothelial cytodifferentiation as well as neoplastic transformation events.

Rhiannon McNeill

Rhiannon McNeill

Rhiannon completed her PhD in the Jack Birch Unit and was awarded an International fellowship for postdoctoral study in Germany.

Pirkko Muhonen

Pirkko Muhonen

Pirkko worked in the Jack Birch Unit as a Postdoctoral Researcher and now works as a Research Tissue Bank Manager & Sample Processing Facility Manager at the Leeds Institute of Cancer & Pathology, St James's University Hospital in Leeds.

Becky Phillips (MD student)

Rebecca was a Clinical Research Fellow registered through Hull York Medical School and was awarded her MD.  She is now undertaking specialist clinical training.


Anna Radford

Anna completed her PhD in the Jack Birch Unit and is now continuing with her paediatric surgical training in Leeds Children's Hospital, part of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, prior to commencing further specialisation in paediatric urology.