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Research

Introduction


Research within the William Harvey Research Institute is centred around principal investigators who lead groups researching within the areas of inflammation, cardiovascular pharmacology, and endocrinology.

Inflammation Research


We investigate the basic mechanisms controlling various components in inflammation and the potential to modify these using, for example, gene-therapy, anti-inflammatory peptides, and agonists and antagonists that target novel inflammatory pathways. These highly integrated programmes of research use a range of techniques from molecular biology and genetic engineering of cells and molecules, to in vivo models of inflammation, where we have a great strength. We have a strong research programme in joint and tissue repair and stem cell therapy, and international pre-eminence in leucocyte transmigration. The strong translational element of this grouping is funded by 2 Wellcome Programme Grants (XM), 3 EU Programme, multiple ARC Fellowships and Project Grants, an MRC Cohorts Award and the prestigious Oliver Bird PhD Studentship Scheme in Rheumatology. There is significant overlap and collaboration with cardiovascular research at WHRI. Our scientific teams are tightly linked into the Barts and The London NHS Trust Clinical Service through the Musculoskeletal Clinical Academic Unit connecting bench to the clinic where with funds from Barts and The London Charity we have established an early phase clinical research team. Our translational biotechnology concepts are being commercialised in programmes relating to annexin with Unigene Inc, Astra Zeneca, and UCB Celltech and Amgen Inc. The discoveries from these scientific programmes have been published in Nature 2009, Science 2007, Nature Medicine, Plos Medicine 2008 and the Journal of Experimental Medicine.


Principal Investigators:

Key Researchers

 

Barts and The London NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit.

Discovery of blood pressure genes could help prevent cardiovascular disease (September 2011)


Our National Institute of Health Research Translational research programme (£5.45M) integrates cardiovascular genetics, stem cell biology, pharmacology, electrophysiology, epidemiology and large-scale trials to create a flow of concepts from the bench into the clinic. This research theme will shortly be boosted by a £24.7M new Heart Centre and aims are to understand the basic underlying pathogenic mechanisms associated with the initiation and development of vascular diseases, eg, atherosclerosis, hypertension and diabetes and create novel therapies. Our MRC Programme and Wellcome funded cardiovascular genetic programme created the Global BP Gen Consortium which has discovered genes for blood pressure. We have additional strengths in genetic studies of coronary disease and dyslipidaemia. Our vascular pharmacology programmes investigate mechanisms of vascular homeostasis in inflammation and the role of the endothelium. In partnership with clinicians in critical care we have internationally renowned programmes investigating the pathophysiology of ischaemia-reperfusion injury with the aim of developing new therapeutic approaches to shock. We have a strong focus on generation and action of endothelial cell-derived mediators (eg: nitric oxide, endothelin, eicosanoids), and in the regulation and function of nuclear receptors in vascular cells and the response of the endothelium to procyanidins. We have established MRC, NIHR and UK Stem Cell Foundation programmes in cellular therapy. Our clinical electrophysiology grouping has invented new ways of identifying triggers to disorders of heart rhythm. These programmes have generated a portfolio of candidate molecules and therapies which are being taken into human studies through our purpose-built clinical research centre. This supported by expertise in pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modelling. Through our partnerships with local general practice we have successfully engaged large numbers of patients in our translational and clinical trials programmes. With NIHR funding we have been able to add high fidelity deeper phenotyping using advanced cardiac imaging with 1.5T MRI (shortly 3T) and the first Siemens Flash low radiation dual source CT scanner to enhance characterisation of patients in early phase trials.

A key strength in this area is the integration of clinical activities with basic science and the use of in vivo and in vitro disease models. This strength has been recognised by award of a MRC ‘In vivo sciences MRes/PhD Programme’. Apart from substantial NIHR funds for the cardiovascular BRU we hold major awards from MRC, BHF, the Wolfson and Wellcome Trust. Our researchers have strong clinical partnerships with clinicians in Barts and The London Cardiac, Anaesthetic, Intensive Care and Renal Medicine Services. Their research outputs appear in Nature, Nature Genetics, PloS Medicine, PNAS, Circulation and Circulation Research.

Principal Investigators:

Key Researchers

Endocrinology

 

Research activity in the Centre for Endocrinology spans the range between clinically applied research in endocrinology including the beneficial and adverse effects of growth hormone, its mechanisms of action and states of resistance, the genetic basis of defects in fetal and childhood growth and the long term consequences of fetal growth failure. At a more basic level there is an interest in the mechanisms of action of G protein-coupled receptors, especially those for melanocortins, and in particular the cell biology of GPCR trafficking. The development of endocrine glands, especially the adrenal cortex and the mechanisms of endocrine tumour formation are a further major area of interest within this Centre. Many of these programmes are led by or involve clinician scientists who also work within the Barts and The London NHS Trust Endocrinology Clinical Centre.

Principal Investigators:

Key Researchers

 
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William Harvey Research Institute, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, John Vane Science Centre, Charterhouse Square, London, EC1M 6BQ