I completed my PhD in 1992 at the University of London, on how and why patients treated for breast cancer develop swollen arms (lymphoedema). After a year learning molecular genetics of fruit flies at Glasgow University, I spent three years at the University of California at Davis, where I learned and extended a technique to measure how proteins and fluid move across the walls of individual capillaries, by putting tiny glass needles into the smallest blood vessels of the body. At this point I started investigating a new protein called VEGF - or vascular endothelial growth factor. I continued as a lecturer at the University of Leicester from 1996-1998, using novel chemicals, that were part of the process of developing new drugs now used as anti-cancer agents. I developed methods to investigate how VEGF works to cause blood vessels to grow, and moved to the University of Bristol as a British Heart Foundation (BHF) research fellow in the Department of Physiology in 1999.
In 2001 I was awarded a prestigious BHF Lectureship, and established the Microvascular Research Laboratories. In that year I discovered a new class of VEGF molecules. I was appointed Professor of Microvascular Biology and Medicine in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in 2007, where I was responsible for a MSci in Physiology with a year in Industry and the second year BSc Physiology course for 120 undergraduate students per year. My laboratory has discovered how new VEGFs contribute to blindness, diabetes, cancer, lung and heart disease and other conditions, resulting in 10 patent applications and >140 peer reviewed papers in both scientific (Nature Medicine, Cancer Cell etc), and medical journals (Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, Nature Reviews Cancer, etc).
In 2013 I was appointed Chair of Division of Preclinical Oncology at the University of Nottingham, and founded Exonate Ltd with Prof Steve Harper, Dr Lucy Donaldson and Dr Jonathan Morris, based on our discovery of new potential drugs for eye disease cancer and other conditions. My lab now investigates the therapeutic potential of VEGF-splice variants and their control in eye disease, cancer, diabetes, pregnancy, lung and kidney disease. My research also encompasses wider areas of vascular permeability, angiogenesis and arteriogenesis, regulation of kidney function and chemokine induced lymphatic metastasis. My work, supported by Research Councils UK, Wellcome Trust, BHF, Diabetes UK and other charities. has been cited over 8000 times, and attracted over £14M in direct research funding. I currently am Head of Cancer Biology, the lead for the University Cancer Research Priority Area, and am Deputy Head of Division of Cancer and Stem Cells at the University of Nottingham, Professor Extraordinaire at the University of South Africa, Pretoria, scientific adviser to the South African Medical Research Council, Chair of the Finnish Academy of Sciences Cancer panel, and Chief Scientific Officer and Founder of Exonate Ltd.
My research focusses on how blood vessels grow, and in particular how a protein called Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (or VEGF) as well as other proteins made by the body can make new vessels form in health and disease. This includes the role of blood vessel growth and permeability in cancers, heart and vascular disease (including atherosclerosis, and coronary ischaemia, peripheral vascular disease), diabetes, (including retinopathy, which causes blindness, nephropathy, which causes kidney failure, vasculopathym which can cause pain and peripheral ischemia, which can lead to ulcers and amputations). Other diseases that I work on include rheumatoid arthritis, renal disease, lymphatic diseases, and the basic causes of oedema (swelling).
I'm particularly interested in alternative splicing.
I have programs focussing on controlling blood vessel growth in age related macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer of the bile duct, melanoma, basic mechanisms of blood vessel function (including… read more