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Laura Sidney

Assistant Professor/Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences



Laura is an independent Senior Research Fellow (Assistant Professor) with an interest in the recycling, reusing and repurposing of surplus human tissue donations to make regenerative therapies. She is particularly focused on eye regeneration and adult stem cell therapies.

Laura graduated from an undergraduate MEng degree in Biomaterial Science and Tissue Engineering from the University of Sheffield (2008), before the joining the inaugural year of the Doctoral Training Centre for Regenerative Medicine, where she completed her PhD in the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham (2013). She worked in Academic Ophthalmology, Division of Clinical Neuroscience as a research fellow from 2013 - 2017, investigating regenerative medicine uses for stem cells derived from the cornea and novel preservation methods for human donor corneas. In 2014, she was awarded the Early Stage Investigator Award by the Tissue and Cell Engineering Society (TCES).

Laura was promoted to Senior Research Fellow and was awarded an Anne McLaren Fellowship by the University of Nottingham (2017). In May 2020, Laura was awarded tenure with the School of Medicine as a Senior Research Fellow.

Expertise Summary

  • Cornea and eye research (Ophthalmology)
  • Genomic, phenotypic and functional characterisation of primary human stromal and limbal stem cells of the cornea.
  • Regenerative medicine for the eye including cell therapies and biologically-derived materials.
  • Processing of surplus human transplant tissue into extracellular matrix hydrogels.
  • Characterisation of adult mesenchymal stromal cells and phenotypic switching upon in vitro culture.
  • Development of invitro models of ocular surface as alternative to toxicity testing and animal testing.
  • Human and biological tissue processing and preservation by low-temperature vacuum evaporation.

Teaching Summary

MSc Stem Cell Technology and Regenerative Medicine:

  • ONCG4014 Adult and Foetal Stem Cells
  • ONCG4023 Translational Technologies for Stem Cells

Undergraduate and postgraduate tutor for School of Medicine.

Research Summary

Laura's research focuses on recycling, reusing and repurposing of surplus human tissue donations to make ocular regenerative therapies. She is particularly focused on eye regeneration and adult stem… read more

Recent Publications

Current Research

Laura's research focuses on recycling, reusing and repurposing of surplus human tissue donations to make ocular regenerative therapies. She is particularly focused on eye regeneration and adult stem cell therapies.

Broadly, she works in five main areas:

Human donor tissue preservation:

  1. Low-temperature vacuum evaporation for biological tissue
  2. Dry-preserved human and porcine corneal tissue for transplantation
  3. Preservation of amniotic membrane for transplantation

Cell biology of the anterior eye (predominantly cornea):

  1. Corneal stromal keratocyte to fibroblast transition
  2. Biological and mechanistic understanding of corneal mesenchymal stem cells
  3. Limbal stem cell biology and the stem cell niche
  4. Exosome signalling within the vitreous body

Stem cell and exosome therapies for the ocular surface:

  1. Topical corneal mesenchymal stem cell therapies for the injured eye
  2. GMP and optimised mesenchymal stem cell culture and quality control
  3. Limbal stem cell therapies and cell sheet technology
  4. Corneal mesenchymal stem cell derived exosomes as a topical therapy for the injured eye.

Biomaterials derived from surplus human donor tissue:

  1. Scleral/corneal ECM hydrogels for delivery of stem cells to the ocular surface
  2. Amniotic membrane powders and hydrogels
  3. Vitreous and lens-based biomaterials for ocular regeneration

In vitro models of the eye:

  1. Recellularised corneas as an alternative for animal models
  2. Standardised in vitro corneal cell inflammation models

Past Research

October 2018 - July 2023 EPSRC/MRC CDT Regenerative Medicine Studentship: Development of a topical corneal-mesenchymal stem cell therapy for the ocular surface

Full characterisation of corneal mesenchymal stem cells, comparing them to bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells and assessing their therapeutic response to inflammatory environments. Use of novel materials to create a contact lens-like delivery system for a mesenchymal stem cell therapy.

Jan 2018 - July 2022 Medical Technologies IKC, Industrial Partnership Proof-of-Concept: Development and pre-clinical feasibility testing of dry-preserved corneas: A regenerative sight-saving therapy for corneal transplantation

A project to develop industrial manufacturing routes for dry-preserved corneas, alongside testing them in preclinical models and engaging with clinical ophthalmologists to assess market need.

Sept 2017 - Sept 2019 Royal Society Research Grant: Development of dried corneal extracellular matrix hydrogels for delivery of corneal-stroma derived stem cells to the injured ocular surface

A project focusing on the development of a regenerative delivery system for corneal stroma-derived stem cells (CSSC) via a rehydratable, dried, corneal extracellular matrix hydrogel.

June 2017 - 2020 Anne McLaren Fellowship: Development of a novel stem cell-based biological wound dressing for the treatment of ocular surface inflammation

Development and testing of a novel corneal stroma-derived stem cell (CSSC)-based biological wound dressing.

September 2016 - May 2017 University of Nottingham Hermes Fellowship: Development of a novel packaging system for a transplantable biological matrix for ocular surface regeneration.

March 2016 - April 2017 EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account: An 'off the shelf' transplantable biological matrix for ocular surface regeneration.

November 2015 - August 2016 MRC Confidence-in Concept Award: Biocompatibility of an innovative human cornea derived decellularised matrix for corneal reconstruction and restoring sight.

January 2015 - June 2016 DST - UKIERI Award: An innovative tissue-engineered corneal regenerative therapy derived from a thermoresponsive bio-functionalized polymer and multipotent corneal stromal stem cells.

School of Medicine

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

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