PROFESSOR MIKE PHILPOTT

Professor of Cutaneous Biology

Queen Mary University London

Profile

Professor Philpott obtained a BSc in Marine Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Wales, Bangor in 1986 and his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in 1989.  The title of his thesis was ‘Studies on isolated hair follicles’ from which he published on the in vitro culture and growth of human hair follicles now referred to as the ‘Philpott model’. This paper reported, for the first time, the successful isolation and culture of human hair follicles and showed that hair follicles could be kept alive in the laboratory and continue to produce hair at the same rate as that produced while still in the scalp. The Philpott model has allowed scientists to carry out many experiments previously impossible to investigate the effects of growth regulatory factors on human hair growth.  He continued his research into hair follicle biology at the University of Cambridge from 1989 until 1994. In 1994 he joined Unilever Research, leaving in 1996 to take up a lectureship at Barts and The London SMD.  He was appointed senior lecturer in 1999, Reader in 2003 and Professor of Cutaneous Biology in 2005. He became Centre lead for Cutaneous Research in 2006.

Member British Society for Cell Biology (BSCB), European Society for Investigative Dermatology (ESDR)and European Hair Research Society (EHRS). Honorary Fellow Trichological Society.

Research Summary

We are investigating the role of Gli2 in protecting human keratinocytes from UVB induced apoptosis as well as its role in cell ploidy. We are also investigating the role of Gli2 in the canonical and non canonical Wnt signalling as well as the role of Gli2 in epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). In Basal Cell Carcinoma we are investigating the role of paracrine Hedgehog (HH) signalling between the stroma and epithelium and the role of oncogene induced senescence (OIS). We have made stable Gli1 and Gli2 expressing cell lines as well as PTCH knockdowns (in both N/TERT-1 and NEB-1) keratinocytes and these are being used as in vitro models to investigate the HH pathway in skin cancer and in conjunction with BCC derived stromal cells to develop novel in vitro models of BCC as alternatives to animals. We are also investigating the role of oxidative stress, Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on balding hair follicle senescence and the role of TGF-β. Studies are also being carried out to investigate the role of skin steroid synthesis in both the hair follicle in relation to hair loss and in eczema and psoriasis.

Recent and ongoing research projects:

  1. The role of Gli in human skin cancer
  2. In vitro modelling of skin carcinogenicity and human Basal cell carcinoma
  3. The role of oxidative stress in human hair growth
  4. Steroidogenesis in skin
  5. In vitro modelling of the human eccrine sweat gland

PROFESSOR FRAN BALKWILL OBE

Centre Lead, Centre for Cancer and Inflammation /
Institute of Bioengineering Director of Research Strategy

QUEEN MARY UNIVERSITY LONDON

PROFILE

I am Professor of Cancer Biology at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, where I lead the Centre for Cancer and Inflammation and the Cytokine and Cancer group within that Centre. I study the links between cancer and inflammation and research ways of translating this to clinical trial.

In 2006, I was made a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, being elected a member of its Council later in the same year. I am a frequent plenary and keynote speaker at international meetings, such as Gordon and Keystone conferences and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

I am also actively involved in communication of science to non-specialist audiences, especially young people. I have written thirteen science books for children on cell and molecular biology, with titles such as Enjoy Your Cells and The Egg and Sperm Race.

I am the Director of the Centre of the Cell, a biomedical science centre for children, educational website, and widening participation and outreach project in Whitechapel. The website was launched in March 2007 and the physical Centre opened in September 2009. As of October 2014 there have been over 85,000 participants in Centre of the Cell activities (www.centreofthecell.org).

I am a non-parliamentary board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, POST and Chair of Understanding Animal Research (UAR). I am on the Scientific Advisory Committee of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and I was awarded an OBE in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours list.

My research is focused on the links between cancer and inflammation, being especially interested in translating knowledge of cancer biology into new biological treatments for cancer and in the role that inflammatory cytokines play in cancer promotion.

RESEARCH INTERESTS

  1. The Tumour Microenvironment
  2. Inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in the tumour microenvironment
  3. 'Ovarian' cancer with a focus on high grade serous and clear cell subtypes
  4. Public engagement with biomedical science and science policy

Dr Lorna Ewart

Head of the MicroPhysiological Systems Centre of Excellence

AstraZeneca

Lorna Ewart is the Head of the MicroPhysiological Systems Centre of Excellence at AstraZeneca and has the accountability to design, develop and integrate innovative in vitro models into drug projects to support both safety and efficacy.  In her role, Lorna has established collaborations with leading biotech companies and academics and has successfully co-authored grant applications and peer reviewed publications in the Microphysiological Systems field.  She is a trained pharmacologist with 20 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

PROFESSOR JOAN ABBOTT

Emiritus Professor of Neuroscience

Kings College London

Research interests

Our chief interest is the ‘multi-tasking’ blood-brain barrier (BBB). The brain capillary endothelium forming the BBB regulates molecular traffic between blood and brain, and protects the brain from potentially harmful substances circulating in the blood. Understanding the complexity of BBB physiology helps in the design of modern CNS drug therapies. Many neuropathologies involve BBB breakdown or dysfunction – treating the barrier could help reduce the severity of neurodegeneration and aid repair.

Developing good in vitro models of the BBB


We have optimised several cell culture models of the brain endothelium that permit study of a range of functional activities of the BBB, and may have applications in screening drugs for permeability across the BBB.

Transport functions of the BBB and flow of interstitial fluid


The BBB has uptake and efflux carriers mediating bi-directional molecular transport. We are examining transporters that could be used to deliver drugs to the brain, and others (efflux transporters) that impede drug entry. We are also studying BBB ion transport, and its key role in the formation and regulation of brain interstitial fluid (ISF). We are mapping the routes for ISF flow, with application in programmes designed to deliver therapeutic agents to the brain. Disturbances of ISF production and flow may be involved in several brain disorders including stroke and tumours.

Cell:cell signalling at the BBB


The ‘BBB phenotype’ develops in brain endothelium under the inductive influence of closely associated cell types, especially astrocytic glial cells. The mature BBB appears to be modulated physiologically by signals from glia and neurons, and possibly other cell types, allowing coordination of the ‘neurovascular unit’. We are using cell culture models and fluorescence imaging to determine the receptors present, and their role in cell:cell signalling. Many of the endothelial receptors we have identified cause a rise in intracellular calcium – a possible first step in signal transduction pathways by which glial cells (and neurons) could influence endothelial physiology (tightness, transport function, metabolism).

BBB modulation in pathology


We have a number of collaborative projects on the role of BBB dysfunction in neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis. The aim is to understand the mechanisms by which the barrier may be impaired, and the implications for the neurological condition. We are also exploring therapeutic strategies that may reduce BBB damage and hence limit the severity of brain disorders.

Drug delivery across the BBB


By careful examination of the routes for molecular movement across the BBB we are developing ‘predictive rules’ to guide the design of drug compounds to target or avoid the brain. So far this works best for lipid soluble compounds passively diffusing across the endothelial lipid membranes. The next step will be to incorporate understanding of uptake and efflux transporter function. We are also working on novel methods for delivering ‘problem drugs’ (large or polar molecules) including use of nanoparticle delivery systems, and transient opening of the BBB. Our successful ‘BBB Consortium with Industry’ is now operating in ‘Club’ mode: organising meetings, advising on new developments, and setting up joint research projects (enquiries welcome)

PROFESSOR DAVID HAY

Group Leader and Professor of Tissue Engineering

University of Edinburgh

David Hay is Professor of Tissue Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. David has worked in the field of stem cell biology and differentiation for over fifteen years. David and his team have highlighted the important role that pluripotent stem cells have to play in modelling human liver biology ‘in a dish’ and supporting failing liver function in vivo. The impact of this work has led to a number of peer reviewed publications, regular appearances at high profile conferences and three start-up companies.

Dr Gary Allenby

Chief Scientific Officer and Founder

Aurelia Bioscience

After gaining his Ph.D. from Edinburgh University in 1990 he joined Hoffmann La Roche USA investigating retinoid pharmacology. He joined the Lead Generation Section of Glaxo-Wellcome UK in 1996 gaining expertise in cell-based assay development, screening and automation. In 2000 he joined AstraZeneca, developing automation and evaluating and implementing new technologies on novel assay formats

Dr Gianni Dal Negro

DIRECTOR COMPLEX IN VITRO PLATFORMS

GlaxoSmithKline

Gianni Dal Negro DVM RCVS is a European-Registered Toxicologist with an over 30year experience in pharmaceutical research. In 2011 and in 2016, he was EPAA Industry co-chair. At GlaxoSmithKline, he covered roles of increasing responsibilities as Head of Clinical Pathology, Head of Cellular & Molecular Pathology, Head of Investigative Toxicology and most recently, Worldwide Director 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement). Member of the editorial board of the journal Toxicology In Vitro, he is author and co-author of many publications on these topics.

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