Research group leader
Postgraduate research supervisor
BSc (Hons) Applied Biochemistry Brunel University 1981
PhD in Autoimmune Disease Studies University of Newcastle 1987
Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 1994
British Society for Immunology
International Association for Dental Research
Association for Basic Science Teachers in Dentistry
I am interested in the regulation of cytokine secretion by myeloid immune cells and the role of cytokines in human periodontal disease.
Cells found in the oral epithelium e.g. myeloid immune cells and keratinocytes act as sentinel cells to initiate immune responses to microbial pathogens in chronic inflammatory disorders such as periodontal disease. Cytokines secreted by these cells have a critical role in signaling and regulating innate and adaptive immune responses and also underpin the pathological sequelae of infection such as chronic inflammation. Furthermore, cross-susceptibility between periodontitis and systemic disease is explained at least in part by dysregulation of cytokine networks in common conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic disorders.
The elucidation of cytokine-mediated immune responses to periodontal pathogens is therefore central to our understanding of the cellular events which lead to compromised periodontal health in a wide-range of patient groups, not just those with primary oral disease. This knowledge will enhance patient management through identification of novel diagnostic targets and rational therapeutic interventions.
Our research group is investigating the role of cytokines in periodontal disease in research at laboratory and clinical interface.
In vitro studies are aimed at elucidating regulatory mechanisms, secretion profiles and immunological function associated with cytokines stimulated by periodontal bacteria. In particular, we are interested in novel members of the IL-1 family of cytokines (IL-1F6, -F8, F9, IL-18 & IL-33) which are structurally related to IL-β but are functionally diverse. We also aim to get a holistic picture of cytokine responses to periodontal bacteria by using array technology and relating this to differential activation of TLR signalling pathways.
Alteration of the pathways that lead to cytokine gene transcription and post-translational modification are pathways that could underpin to natural and therapeutic immunomodulation. Thus, we are investigating the effects of neuropeptides and adipokines on cytokine responses in myeloid cells to delineate immunological relationships between inflammation and metabolic disease.
Our clinical research relates directly to our laboratory research: thus we are investigating cytokine and adipokine levels in patients with periodontal disease and diabetes. We are developing technical approaches to perform multiplex analysis of cytokines in various biological fluids which reflect the activity of localised (periodontal) and systemic immune responses. We are integrating immunological information with other laboratory and clinical data and assessing it’s clinical utility in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of periodontal disease in diabetic patients.
Our group is also a founder-member of the UK and Ireland Periodontal Disease Consortium which is an international group of periodontal researchers formed recently to collaborate in the investigation of the genetic basis of periodontal disease.
Fellow of the Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School
Current students: 6 PhD
The Nuffield Foundation
The Oral and Dental Research Trust
Newcastle University Hospitals Special Trustees
Northern Regional Health Authority
Philips Oral Healthcare
Stage 1 BDS Cell Biology (Course Leader)
Stage 2 BDS Immunology and Health Care (Course Leader)
BSc undergraduate project supervisor
MRes an MSc Project supervisor
MFDS and Clinical MSc courses