Faculty of Medical Sciences

Newcastle Epithelial

Newcastle 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.



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 and clinical centres in Newcastle (Freeman, RVI)
  • UK collaborations (Cambridge, Cardiff, Dundee, Durham, Ulster)
  • International collaborations in North America (Augusta, Chapel Hill, Dallas, Iowa, Michigan, Washington), Europe (Antwerp, Copenhagen, Gottingen, Lisbon, Lund, Munich, Nijmegen, Regensburg, Szeged, Utrecht, Zurich) as well as major Pharma (Aviagen Ltd, AstraZeneca Drug Safety & DMPK, (UK and Sweden), GlaxoSmithKline (UK and USA), Gilead, Roche, Sanoffi-Aventis, Servier, Shire, Symcyp, Syngenta, Technostics)

Developing researchers

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.

Impact and Engagement

We have generated over £900K over the last 3 years from commercialisation of primary cultures of human and rat renal tubules for screening of renal drug transporters.  In addition, this work has provided data in support of a number of FDA submissions.

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
  • 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)
  • Professional Bodies: British Pharmacological Society, British Society of Gastroenterology, The Physiological Society, AAPS, CF Trust, Rare Diseases Network.

Related Websites

Staff List

Dr Colin Brown
Senior Lecturer

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7036

Dr Michael Gray
Reader in Cellular Physiology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 2779

Dr Judith Hall
Reader in Molecular Urology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8346

Professor Barry Hirst
Professor of Cellular Physiology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6993

Professor Jeffrey Pearson
Professor of Molecular Physiology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6996

Professor John Sayer
Clin Prof of Renal Medicine

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 241 8608

Professor David Thwaites
Professor of Epithelial Physiology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 8559

Dr Ruth Valentine
Dean of Taught Programmes

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7192

Dr Christopher Ward
Senior Lecturer; Respiratory Medicine

Telephone: 0191 2088460

Dr Andreas Werner
Reader in Molecular Biology

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6990