|I graduated from the University of London in 1990 with a First Class BSc (Joint Hons.) in pharmacology and toxicology and then studied for a PhD with the Leukaemia Research Fund, graduating in 1994. I then joined the group led by Professor Andrew Newby for post-doctoral work in Cardiff and developed adenoviral vectors for overexpression studies in the vascular system. I then transferred to a lectureship at the University of Bristol (Bristol Heart Institute) to continue studies on adenovirus-mediated gene transfer to assess vascular function in different model systems. In 1999, I joined Professor Anna Dominiczak’s group here at the University of Glasgow as a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Medicine, then as Reader and now as Professor of Molecular Medicine.
A main focus has been on the development of gene therapy for treatment of diverse cardiovascular diseases. This initially included the generation of replication-defective adenovirus vectors that mediated overexpression of a variety of genes including TIMPs, inhibitors of matrix degradation. These vectors were used successfully to inhibit vein graft neointimal thickening in human and pig models. I am currently engaged in research to further develop gene therapy aimed at different aspects of vein graft biology, as well as development of vectors that mediate sustained gene overexpression in vivo.
A second focus has been on the modification of gene delivery systems to try and achieve more efficient and selective delivery of therapeutic agents to cells and tissues relevant to cardiovascular disease. This involves the development of adenoviruses and adeno-associated viruses to both remove their “natural” cell infection processes and also incorporate new tropism to direct the virus to target cells. The mechanism through which this cell targeting can be achieved is by identification of small peptides by in vivo phage display and subsequent incorporation into viral capsid proteins. This will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the processes that viruses use to achieve infection of mammalian cells as well as improve the safety profile for these viruses for application to human gene therapy.
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