We have two interconnected biomedical research themes. In the first theme, we are studying how cells make blood vessels. We are investigating how cells are able to lay down an intricate and stretchy structural framework that is made up of many different molecules, and how this elastic ‘matrix’ controls blood vessel function. This research focuses especially on a large structural molecule called "fibrillin" which, once outside cells, builds very long thin ‘microfibril’ structures. Bundles of these microfibrils then form the template for an important elastic protein called ‘elastin’. In the second theme, we are studying a type of adult stem cell called “mesenchymal stem cell” that occurs near blood vessels. These cells have great potential for tissue regeneration, both because they are able to become like cells from many tissues (including blood vessels, cartilage, bone and nerves), and because they produce ‘factors’ that limit inflammation after injury. We are finding out how their behaviour is controlled by interactions with their surrounding structural framework, and exploring how we may be able to use them to engineer new blood vessels to repair damaged tissues.
Our research is funded by the Medical Research Council and the British Heart Foundation.
Professor Cay Kielty holds a chair in Medical Biochemistry within the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, and is Associate Dean for Research within the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. She has a first class honours degree in Biochemistry from Kings College London and a PhD degree from University College London (1978). She joined the University of Manchester in 1981 as a post-doctoral research associate, and held consecutive MRC Senior Research Fellowships from 1993-2003. She led the Vascular and Tubular Structures programme within the UK Centre for Tissue Engineering (2001-2007) and the vascular programme of the UK Centre for Tissue Regeneration. Professor Kielty was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2001 and a member of Academia Europaea in 2009, and was awarded a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit award in 2004. She has served on many funding committees including the MRC Fellowships Panel, MRC Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board, and MRC Translational Stem Cell Research Committee. Professor Kielty is an expert in cell-matrix biology especially the assembly, structure and function of extracellular matrix, and in the biology and therapeutic applications of mesenchymal stem cells.