Biosketch and Motivation
I started my post as a biomedical scientist and lecturer at St. George's, University of London in 2009. My research group focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of wound healing in skin and ovary. We are particularly interested in how the tissue repair process may go wrong, which in the skin may result in pathological scars such as keloids, or in the ovary may contribute to ovarian cancer.
My interest in ovulation and ovarian cancer stems from my doctoral research at the University of Ottawa, Canada (supervisor: Dr. Barbara Vanderhyden; 1999-2005). I was intrigued by the epidemiological link between ovulatory wounds and ovarian cancer (and chronic wounds/inflammation and cancer in other anatomical settings). To pursue my interest in tissue repair, I initiated a Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2005 with Paul Martin (University of Bristol, UK). Initially, I focused on how wound-associated inflammation contributes to fibrosis and scarring in the skin. With Dr. Ryoichi Mori, we disrupted one aspect of inflammation, osteopontin expression, which excitingly improved the rate and quality of repair. Wound-associated inflammation clearly underpins many of the pathologies associated with chronic wounds, and I hope to continue investigating how immune cells affect neighbouring cells at a wound site.
Prof. Martin and I were also funded by Cancer Research UK to investigate how the vast number of genes induced in wound-edge epithelium may be regulated and coordinated. We discovered that gene expression in healing wounds is regulated "epigenetically", by transient changes in chemical modifications to DNA and chromatin. Now, in my lab at St. George's, some of us are working to identify and characterize other epigenetic regulators that contribute to tissue repair, and are testing the clinical potential of their inhibitors as anti-fibrotic agents. Excitingly, we have also received some funding from the Association for International Cancer Research to characterise the wound repair process that occurs in the ovary following ovulation.