Department of Biology
Repair and Regeneration of Skeletal Tissues
Our research focuses on the cell and molecular biology of skeletal tissues. Bone is a highly dynamic tissue and is constantly being renewed or remodelled. At any one time in an adult skeleton, there are approximately 1 million microscopic remodelling sites that allow our skeletons to function and adapt to change. Bone marrow acts as a reservoir for stem cells that give rise to mature cells involved in remodelling and regeneration. However, our skeletons suffer a barrage of disease conditions, many of which are associated with the ageing process, such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. These disorders are highly prevalent and their frequency will continue to rise as the population ages.
We are interested in identifying fundamental signalling mechanisms that are involved in lineage specification and how functional tissues (primarily bone and cartilage) are formed. We are currently investigating signalling pathways in mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) and how molecular modification of these cellular events can influence differentiated function. We are also performing comparative analyses of different stem cell populations, using three-dimensional growth microenvironments and applying these technologies to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.
I am a biologist with an interest in signalling, differentiation, stem cells and research-driven biomedicine, which is reflected in my teaching. I want to inspire the next generation of scientists.
I provide undergraduate lectures across all years, in areas covering cell and developmental biology, from basic cell function, through body tissue organisation to regenerative medicine. The Modules therefore build from Cell and Developmental Biology in Stage 1, through Cell Biology in Stage 3 to Ageing and Regenerative Medicine in Stage 3, which I organise. Throughout, the lectures relate crucially to the rapidly developing fields of stem cell biology and tissue engineering. These are high profile, popular areas of science that move swiftly and so the teaching has to adapt.
Outside of the large lecture halls, tutorials offer the opportunity to interact more closely with students and actually get to know each other. The tutorial subjects we cover are topical issues related to my research, stem cells, ageing and regenerative medicine.
I run laboratory and data analysis projects for final year BSc and masters students. The projects are always original, testing new concepts and ideas related to our ongoing research. They change every year. Techniques will include human cell culture, microscopy and image analysis, gene and protein expression assays and bioinformatics.