School of Medicine
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Rachel Clifford

Anne McLaren Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences


  • workRoom B11 Clinical Sciences Building
    Nottingham City Hospital
    Hucknall Road
    NG5 1PB
  • work01158231653


Rachel is an Anne McLaren Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Respiratory Medicine, part of Translational Medical Sciences within the School of Medicine.

She graduated with a 1st class degree in Medical Biochemistry from the University of Leicester, including a sandwich year at the pharmaceutical company Sanofi Synthelabo. She undertook her PhD in Respiratory Medicine with Prof Alan Knox at the University of Nottingham investigating the mechanisms of VEGF transcriptional regulation by TGF beta in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells. This generated a keen interest in the field of transcriptional regulation. She went on to undertake a Wellcome Trust funded postdoctoral fellow position exploring epigenetic mechanisms of transcriptional regulation in asthma. In 2013 she was successfully awarded a Joint European Respiratory Society and Canadian Thoracic Society Peter Macklem Long-Term Research Fellowship which she spent in the lab of Prof Michael Kobor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Here she acquired new skills in the profiling and analysis of genomewide DNA methylation using Illumina microarray technology which she incorporated back into the Nottingham research group on her return. She also developed an interest in the effect of vehicle exhaust inhalation on airway cell function. In 2014 she was promoted to Senior Research Fellow and in March 2016 initiated her second fellowship, funded by the Medical Research Foundation and Asthma UK, investigating lung cell specific DNA methylation mediated regulation of gene expression in asthma and COPD. In March 2019 she was a awarded an Anne McLaren Fellowship from the University of Nottingham to continue work on cell and phenotype specific DNA methylation mediated gene expression regulation and cell-free DNA methylation as a clinical biomarker, which see initiated in June 2020. In September 2021 she enrolled onto a University of Nottingham Bioinformatics Scientist Apprenticeship to gain formal training in bioinformatic analysis.

She has obtained funding as PI or Co-I from Asthma UK, Medical Research Foundation, Henry Smith Charity, The Rosetrees Trust, MRC Confidence in Concept, MRC, European Respiratory Society, Canadian Thoracic Society and the University of Nottingham (Fellowship, RPA funding).

Expertise Summary

My current research interests are:

  • Transcriptional regulation
  • DNA methylation - including methylcytosine and hydroxymethylcytosine
  • Histone modifications
  • Cell type specificity of epigenetic regulation of gene expression
  • Lung disease modification of epigenetic regulation of gene expression
  • Cell free DNA as a functional signalling molecule
  • Cell free DNA methylation as a clinical biomarker
  • Inhaled exposure effects on epigenetic regulation of gene expression

Also a mum of two that loves nothing more than spending time outside and new adventures!

Recent Publications

School of Medicine

University of Nottingham
Medical School
Nottingham, NG7 2UH

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