2023 onwards: Program Director for MRes in Biosciences

2020 onwards: Program Director for Neuroscience BSc

2016 onwards: Lecturer in Neuroscience

2015-2017:  Research Fellow (Engineering: Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Landscape), Keele University
Project title: Engineering neural bridges to promote repair in spinal cord injury.

2015:  PhD in Cellular and Neural Engineering, Keele University
Title: Magnetic particles for neural stem cell-based therapies
Supervisor: Professor Divya Chari
A four year EPSRC PhD studentship within the internationally recognised CDT in Regenerative Medicine.

2010:  MSc in Bioscience Technology (awarded distinction), University of York

2007:  BSc in Biochemistry (2:1), University of Bristol

Research and scholarship

Neural cell transplantation shows significant promise to promote regeneration of the central nervous system (CNS) post-disease or injury but still requires further optimisation before being adopted globally in healthcare practice. My research aims are to investigate a range of nanotechnology platforms which could improve effectiveness of neural cell transplantation therapies, whilst maintaining a high safety profile. Further, we aim to develop new models of nervous system injury within which therapies can be tested. In particular, we are focussing on models which are simple, cost-effective and easy to use – such that they could be adopted by regenerative neurologists across the globe.

As successful translation of this technology requires a highly multidisciplinary environment, our laboratory has setup a diverse range of collaborators including clinicians, industry and basic scientists. My current work is divided into the following areas:

1. Examining whether the chick embryo can be used as a potential nervous system injury model. This is being investigated in the intact spinal cords of living embryos and also by exploiting organotypic slice cultures of chick embryo spinal cords. Work here is in collaboration with Dr Tom Butts (School of Life Sciences, Liverpool University).

2. Optimising neural cell culture in hydrogels for implantation into sites of neurological injury. This includes:

(i) 3-D culture of multiple neural cell types with control over their cytoarchitecture within the gel for directed regeneration applications in collaboration with a number of industrial partners: Baxter Healthcare Technologies Ltd, BiogelX Ltd, PeptigelDesign Ltd and Jellagen Pty Ltd.

(ii) Investigating ease of implantation and non-invasive monitoring of hydrogel-cell constructs in vivo in collaboration with Professor Divya Chari (School of Medicine, Keele University), Dr Nicolas Granger (School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol) and Professor Nicholas Jeffery (Texas A&M University, USA).

(iii) Examining the use of conductive scaffolds for stimulation and recording of encapsulated neural cells for controlling/monitoring their behaviour post-transplantation in collaboration with Dr John Hardy (Department of Chemistry and Materials Science Institute, Lancaster University) and Dr Aleksander Radu (School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Keele University).

3. Examining the use of multifunctional magnetic nanoparticles to facilitate noninvasive cell tracking and safe genetic engineering of neural cells in collaboration with Professor Divya Chari (School of Medicine, Keele University) and Professor Jean-Paul Lellouche (Institute of Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials, Bar-Ilan University, Israel).

4. Proteomics based analysis of the safety of nanoparticle platforms for neural stem cells with Professor Divya Chari (School of Medicine, Keele University); Dr Sarah Hart, Keele University and Professor Richard Emes, Director of the Advanced Analysis Centre, Nottingham University.


Funding and prizes

Dec 2023
University of Bath University Research Studentship Award, Co-I, “Next Generation Antimicrobial Piezoelectric Materials for Implantable Energy Harvesting Devices

Dec 2023
Journal Cover, Advanced Engineering Materials, article written in collaboration with Dr Khanbareh, Bath University.

Aug 2023
MRC World Class Labs Capital Equipment award, PI, Enhancing high-throughput neurophysiology research through multiwell, multielectrode array capability

July 2022
Best Image Prize (awarded to Anthea Mutepfa, primary supervised PhD student) UK Society of Biomaterials conference.

June 2023
British Society for Cell Biology Summer Studentship, Co-I, Tuning biophysical stimuli in “electroimplants” to optimise neural stem cell regenerative responses for neurological repair.”

April 2022
British Neuropathological Society Research Grant, PI, “Establishing scalable, in vitro models for assessing neuropathological responses to neural tissue engineering interventions”

June 2021
Henry Royce Research Institute Equipment Access Scheme, Co-I, “Surface characterisation of piezoceramic scaffolds for neural cell culture”

Feb 2020
Faculty of Natural Sciences PhD studentship, PI, “Developing next-generation bioelectronics implants for spinal cord repair”

May 2019
£1k ASPIRE funding for summer studentship project “Assessing the effects of piezoelectric substrates on neural stem cell differentiation”.

March 2019
£5k pump prime funding from the Faculty of Natural Sciences Research Development Fund (Keele University) for the project: “Fusing stem cell transplant therapy with electrical stimulation for improved neural tissue repair”.

January 2019
£20k Royal Society Research Grant: "Developing the chick embryo as a spinal injury model for screening new therapies".

July 2018
£1k ASPIRE funding for summer studentship project “Developing a novel bench-top model of demyelination using organotypic slices derived from chick embryo spinal cord”.

June 2018
£5k pump prime funding from the Faculty of Natural Sciences Research Development Fund (Keele University) for the project: “Developing the chick embryo as a spinal injury model for screening new therapies”.

October 2017
£51k for Medical Research Council Confidence in Concept funding “Protective matrices for delivery of genetically augmented canine olfactory ensheathing cell transplants”. Co-applicant with Professor Divya Chari (Keele University), 12 months.

Faculty of Natural Sciences fully funded PhD studentship “Investigating the chick embryo as a neurological injury model for screening new nanotherapies” (3 years, ca £80k).  

Aug 2017
Best Poster Presentation prize for ASPIRE funded, summer placement medical student Georgios Solomou. He presented “Therapeutic gene delivery to neural stem cell transplants using multimodal magnetic particles” at the British Society of Nanomedicine Early Career Researchers Meeting (Belfast, UK).

July 2017
£1.8k British Neuropathological Society Small Grant “Investigating the feasibility of using the chick embryo as a neurological injury model for screening new nanotherapies”.

£1.5k for three ASPIRE Summer Studentships to support training placements for medical students in the laboratory (School of Medicine, Keele University).

November 2016
Oral Presentation Prize for best presentation at The Academy of Medical Sciences’ Daniel Turnberg Travel Fellowship Scheme Alumni Conference 2016.

May 2016
£2.9k Personal award of a Daniel Turnberg Travel Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust for secondment “Developing next generation nanoparticles for neural cell therapies” in the Department of Chemistry, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.

February 2016
£20k Pump-priming Research Award from the North Staffordshire Medical Institute.

Project title: Assessing human brain slices as ‘benchtop’ injury models. Co-applicant with Professor Chari (Keele University) and Mr Tzerakis (Consultant Neurosurgeon, University Hospitals of North Midlands).

January 2015
£250,000 Engineering: Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Landscape Research Fellow Fellowship funded by the EPSRC via the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Regenerative Medicine.

Project title: Engineering neural bridges to promote repair in spinal cord injury.

School of Life Sciences,
Huxley Building,
Keele University,
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 734414