I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Medical Sciences from Bradford University in 1985 and was awarded a PhD from the University of Manchester in 1988 for research into disc degeneration and nerve root compression as a cause of low back pain. From this work arose papers describing the absence of classical inflammation when there was intervertebral disc prolapse, but highlighting a role for ischaemia and fibrosis resulting from local blood vessel compression. After gaining my PhD in 1988 I was then involved in developing new molecular techniques (in situ hybridisation and in situ PCR) that could be applied to tissues, predominantly bone and cartilage to investigate gene expression and disease pathogenesis in a variety of musculoskeletal disorders. Subsequently I was appointed lecturer in Molecular Pathology, senior lecturer in 1998 and Professor in 2007.
My past research has focused on the development of modern molecular technologies for application to the pathological study of disease mechanisms in human “hard” tissues (cartilage, IVD, bone etc.). Currently my research group is applying these techniques to:
i) Investigate the cell and matrix biology of normal (foetal , young and adult) and diseased (degenerate) cervical and lumbar intervertebral discs (IVD) in order to develop clinically viable novel cell based (adult stem cells) tissue engineering/ regenerative medicine therapies for the degenerate IVD (a major cause of low back pain);
ii) Study adult mesenchymal stem cells (derived from bone marrow, adipose tissue and umbilical cord), their differentiation and regulation, and their interactions with novel biomaterials (including graphene based materials) for musculoskeletal tissue engineering strategies;
iii) Define the molecular pathology of the regenerate "niche" in which tissue regeneration will occur;
iv) Design and utilise ex-vivo models for exploration of cell function in normal, degenerate and tissue engineered tissues
Through collaboration with several academics and colleagues with skills in biomaterial design ((both in Manchester and external national and international insitutions), clinicians and industrial partners members of my group are applying new knowledge gained from this research to develop unique strategies for regenerating the degenerate intervertebral disc and other musculoskeletal tissues ( including bone and cartilage). Funding is gained from many sources including Arthritis Research UK, The Wellcome Trust, Research into Ageing, DISCS, Orthopaedic research UK and the AO Foundation.
1985 BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences, Bradford University
1988 PhD Rheumatology/Pathology, University of Manchester