scientists discuss results


Professor Jane Mitchell
Lead academic
+44 (0)20 7351 8137

MSc Genes Drugs and Stem CellsMSc Innovations in Cardiological Science

What we do

Blood vessels pass through every area of our bodies and so studying how they function is important for treating all forms of human disease. They are made up of smooth muscle cells, which provide structure and endothelial cells that line the inner surface. Blood vessels not only deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients to our organs but also actively contribute to metabolism and hormone production. This includes the three cardinal vascular hormones, nitric oxide, prostacyclin and endothelin-1, which are produced by the endothelium and are critical regulators of cardiovascular health and disease. Our research focuses on understanding the biology of these vascular pathways and how they influence organ systems including the heart, aorta, kidney, lung and blood. By studying vascular biology our work aims to provide a better understanding of the processes involved in stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, valve disease, aortic aneurysms, hypertension (systemic and pulmonary), atherosclerosis and sepsis or septic shock. 

Why it is important

Cardiovascular disease remains the biggest cause of death in middle and high-income countries. It is therefore vital that we perform research into vascular cells in order to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease. In addition, angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels) is key to tumor development, which means that vascular cell research is critical to the identification of new and better anti-cancer drugs. Finally, adverse events and side effects caused by different classes of drugs often affect the cardiovascular system leading to strokes, heart attacks and heart failure. One class of drugs that we are particularly interested in are common anti-inflammatory pain medications such as ibuprofen which increase a persons risk of having a heart attack or stroke by as much as 30%. Identifying predictors and mechanisms of these kinds of side effects will benefit millions of people around the world that need medication to go about their daily lives.    

Impact of our research

  • Our work is published in leading specialist and general scientific journals, presented at national and international meetings and the subject of press releases which have featured in major national newspapers.
  • Our research has led to new and innovative technologies with patents filed both in Europe and the USA.
  • Our research training is considered outstanding with excellent results obtained for both clinical and basic science MRes and PhD students. 

Summary of current research

We have a broad range of research interests focusing on different aspects of vascular function and particular disease areas. Our approach is to combine basic laboratory science with clinical research efforts applying both traditional (‘hypothesis-driven’) approaches with cutting-edge systems biology (‘hypothesis-generating’) approaches in order to better understand human disease and develop new treatments that target blood vessels.

  • Cardiovascular toxicity of cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor drugs (MitchellKirkby)
  • Differentiation of vascular cells from human blood stem cells for basic research, organ regeneration and personalised medicine (MitchellWort)
  • Clinical vascular pharmacology in coronary heart disease (Collins)
  • Role of platelet-endothelial cells interactions in thrombosis (Kirkby, Mitchell)
  • Roles of redox and iron status in vascular inflammation, SIRS and sepsis (Quinlan)
  • Basic and clinical mechanisms in pulmonary arterial hypertension (Wort, Mitchell)
  • Local percutaneous treatment for modification of atherosclerotic disease (Serruys)
  • Clinical outcomes in coronary artery disease (Steg)
  • Structural disease of the aorta and heart valves (Pepper)
  • Endothelial barrier function in cardiovascular and inflammatory disease (Burke-Gaffney)
  • Improving outcomes of percutenous interventions (di Mario)
  • Redox and pattern recognition receptors in inflammation (Paul-ClarkMitchell)
  • Myocardial ischemia and the treatment of angina (Fox)


Our researchers