We need the right amount of calcium in our blood to maintain healthy bones, muscles and blood vessels. Controlling our blood calcium level involves the release of parathyroid hormone (PTH) from glands in our neck. Unfortunately for people suffering from kidney disease, too much PTH can be released causing their bones to lose calcium and their blood vessels to become dangerously hardened. In fact, this happens to some extent in most of us as we age.
Thus, my main interest is in understanding how the parathyroid gland works and how it controls the secretion of PTH. We know that the gland uses a special protein called the calcium-sensing receptor (CaR). As the name suggests, CaR is constantly measuring the levels of calcium in the blood to allow the body to either increase or decrease those levels as appropriate. I am particularly interested in finding out how the CaR actually communicates this information to the cell. Such information will assist in the development of new treatments not only for kidney disease but also for osteoporosis and other mineral diseases.
Dr Ward is a Reader in the Diabetes, Endocrinology & Gastroenterology Division of the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health.
He was previously a Senior Lecturer (2011-2020), a Lecturer (2005-2011) and before that a Kidney Research UK Career Development Fellow (2002-2005). Prior to that he spent two postdoctoral periods in Harvard Medical School, Boston (1996-1998) and the former School of Biological Sciences in Manchester (1998-2002). Donald is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is Deputy Director for Teaching and Learning (Biosciences).