Epithelial Research Group

The Newcastle Epithelial Research Group is recognised internationally as one of the best epithelial groups world-wide.

Theme Leader

Dr Mike Gray

Major Research Themes

Our mission is to understand epithelial processes at the cellular and molecular level and how their function and dysfunction relates to the whole organism in vivo. Our overall goal is to be at the forefront of translational research bridging between genomic/proteomic data to functional characterisation/applied research in nutrition, specific epithelial diseases (COPD, cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, renal cyst disease, inflammatory bowel disease, UTIs), pharmacokinetics, and microbial-epithelial interactions.

Themes:

Expertise

A major strength of the ERG is the sharing of expertise and equipment which brings much added value to the group. Members have a broad range of expertise in epithelial membrane and transport biology. These include optical (DIC, epifluorescence, multi-plate fluorescence, confocal), electrophysiological (patch clamp, two electrode voltage clamp, whole tissue voltage clamp) and macromolecule cell biology (mucins and alginates). We also have extensive experience in culturing mammalian cells including ex vivo primary tissue (renal, GI, urinary tract, airways).

These approaches allow key questions posed by high throughput technologies in genomics and proteomics to be addressed with respect to organ and whole animal physiology, as well as translation to human studies. Individual group goals include:

  • dietary regulation of health and disease (obesity)
  • role of SNPs in altered pharmacokinetics and nephrotoxicity
  • renal and gastrointestinal in vitro drug delivery and screening
  • the microenvironment and airways disease progression
  • role and identification of antimicrobials in urinary health and disease 

Key Collaborations

  • Active links (evidenced by joint grants/publications) with non-clinical (ICM/IGM/ NICR) and clinical centres in Newcastle (Freeman, RVI)
  • UK collaborations (Cambridge, Cardiff, Dundee, Durham)
  • International collaborations in North America (Augusta, Chapel Hill, Dalhousie, Dallas, Michigan, Washington), Europe (Antwerp, Copenhagen, Gottingen, Munich, Nijmegen, Szeged, Utrecht, Zurich) as well as major Pharma (Aviagen Ltd, AstraZeneca Drug Safety & DMPK, (UK and Sweden), GlaxoSmithKline (UK and USA), Gilead, Novartis (UK), Roche, Sanoffi-Aventis, Servier, Shire, Symcyp, Syngenta, Technostics)

Developing researchers

Regular seminar series for PGs/postdocs (http://research.ncl.ac.uk/epithelia/ERG%20seminars.html)  

Physiology Research symposium. PDRAs and PhDs gain experience in presenting their research to a mixed audience of academics and undergraduates (Physiology @ Newcastle symposium).

ERG postgraduates meet on a regular basis to discuss PG issues, and if required, feedback these to the ERG convenor and/or Institute PG tutor.

Impact and Engagement

We have generated over £48K over the last 3 years from commercialisation of primary cultures of human and rat renal tubules for screening of renal drug transporters.

We have also developed in collaboration with Technostics UK, Peptest a non-invasive pepsin diagnostic, registered as an In Vitro Diagnostic Device (IVDD) and meets the provisions of the directive 98/79/EC, Annex III, section 1-5, giving it an EU wide CE mark.

Engagement activities include:

  • UG vacation studentships, sixth-form placements, patient information days for the Rare Diseases network and public information for the CF Trust
  • Organising conferences/symposia at major scientific meetings including 3 symposia at the forthcoming IUPS 2013
  • Chair/members of committees associated with the organisation of scientific meetings (American Association Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Drug Transporter Focus Group and DTFG Workshops, Annual programming, Clinical Pharmacology Translational Research Open Forum; IUPS programme committee)
  • Professional Bodies: British Pharmacological Society, British Society of Gastroenterology, The Physiological Society, AAPS, CF Trust, Rare Diseases Network.

Related Websites

Staff List

Rg_epithelial

Professor Barry Argent

Dr Colin Brown
Senior Lecturer

Professor Dianne Ford
Professor of Molecular Nutrition

Dr Michael Gray
Reader in Cellular Physiology

Dr Judith Hall
Senior Lecturer

Professor Barry Hirst
Professor of Cellular Physiology

Professor Jeffrey Pearson
Professor of Molecular Physiology

Dr John Sayer
Academic Clinical Senior Lecturer

Professor Nicholas Simmons

Professor David Thwaites
Professor of Epithelial Physiology

Dr Ruth Valentine
Senior Lecturer

Dr Christopher Ward
Senior Lecturer; Respiratory Medicine

Dr Andreas Werner
Reader in Molecular Biology