Helen McGettrick

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

Our research group is interested in identifying the endogenous regulatory pathways that control the normal processes of inflammation and tissue repair and  and how these go wrong in immune mediated inflammatory diseases.

Broadly speaking we have three main areas of interest:

  • factors affecting leukocyte entry into tissue, movement through tissue and their subsequent exit from tissue;
  • regulation on bone homeostasis and repair mechanisms;
  • endothelial phenotypes in health, disease and different tissue beds;

We have ongoing projects examining:

  • how mesenchymal stromal cells influence endothelial responses and leukocyte recruitment;
  • the ability of PEPITEM to regulate osteoblast and osteoclast function in health, old age and bone related diseases.
  • the shared mechanisms of pathology in old age and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs), focusing on changes in leukocyte phenotypes and function;
  • the regulation of T-cell trafficking in health and arthritis 

We combine imaging novel in vitro, multi-cellular static and flow-based culture systems incorporating primary human cells (from healthy individuals or patients), with systems biology approaches to large omics datasets and murine models of acute or persistent inflammation.

PhD projects using these technologies to answer our research interests are available to researchers who are able to self-fund the projects or to oversea's individuals who have already secured e.g. government funding to fully support the project (contact idtp@contacts.bham.ac.uk ).

Biography

Helen graduated from the University of Lancaster in 2001 with a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry, during this course she spent a year studying aboard at Oregon State University, USA. She obtained a MSc in Immunology from the University of Birmingham in 2002, undertaking a research project looking at neutrophil apoptosis (cell death) with Janet Lord and Dagmar Scheel-Toellner in the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing. She subsequently joined Gerard Nash’s Cardiovascular Rheology Group in the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, where she completed her PhD in Medical Sciences in 2006.

Helen has continued to work in Birmingham investigating the processes controlling leukocyte recruitment and fate, and bone homeostatis both in health and disease, focusing on the role of the tissue microenvironment. She was appointed as a University Fellow in Inflammation Biology within the System Science for Health multidisciplinary translational research consortium at Birmingham in 2011.

In 2012, Helen was awarded a five year Arthritis Research Career Development Fellowship to explore the role of synovial fibroblasts in regulating leukocyte accumulation during the development of persistent arthritis. Moreover, she was awarded the prestigious “Garrod Prize” by the British Society for Rheumatology in 2016. Helen was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow(Associate Professor) in Inflammation Biology in 2017, and recently as Director of the Integrated PhD in Life Sciences Doctoral Training Programme (iDTP) across the Colleges of Medical and Dental Sciences, and Life and Environmental Sciences. 

Helen is co-organising a parallel session on "Autoimmunity, Metabolism and Migration" at the British Society of Immunology's Annual Congress in Liverpool in December 2019.

Willingness to take PhD students

Yes

PhD projects

Helen currently supervises doctoral researchers working on the following projects:

• Regulation of leukocyte recruitment by fibroblast-endothelial interactions: Understanding the stromal switch from resolution to persistent inflammation
• Characterising the therapeutic potential of a novel peptide in age-related bone loss, skeletal remodelling and repair
• Accelerated ageing as cause of disease pathogenesis, progression and multi-morbidity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
• In vitro and in vivo vascular response to exercise and supplement induced changes in blood flow

For researchers who are considering undertaking a PhD in Life Sciences at Birmingham and have secured funding or are eligible for funding from local sources, please contact idtp@contacts.bham.ac.uk .