The Piper Hanley lab:
Fibrosis Research: Karen leads a research group investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying fibrotic disease. Fibrosis (or scarring) is a common step in the majority of chronic diseases that can affect any organ. Diagnosis is poor and there are currently no anti-fibrotic therapies. My lab combines in vitro, in vivo and human modelling to drive novel discoveries for diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
Development & Regeneration: Karen maintains a collaborative interest in understanding human development. Understanding how organs develop normally gives insight into why processes go wrong in disease and how we might fix this through tissue regeneration for example.
Karen Piper Hanley has had an unusual and varied introduction into medical research. Her early career began in 1990 as a junior researcher in Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Newcastle, under the guidance of Professor Steve Yeaman. Following graduation in 1995 with a BSc Hons in Biomedical Science from the University of Northumbria, she worked as a research assistant in the Molecular Genetics Unit at the University of Newcastle with Drs Martyn Farrer and Ann Curtis investigating genetic associations in cardiovascular disease. In 1999, Karen became interested in human development and, as the only researcher on a single year pump funding project with Professor David Wilson in the Molecular Genetics Unit, she generated all of the data that went on to secure a £500K project grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDRF) with Professors Neil Hanley, David Wilson and Steve Ball. This grant enabled Karen to study for a PhD in Human Pancreas Development which she completed in 2003 at the University of Southampton following a relocation of the Hanley and Wilson groups in 2000. In 2006 she was awarded a Career-track postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Southampton. In 2008, she moved to become Lecturer in Molecular Medicine at the University of Manchester and is currently Professor of Molecular Medicine in the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Gastroenterology. Karen is the fibrosis lead in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research (wellcome-matrix.org) and Director of Core Research Technologies (2019-2022).