Biography

I was appointed as Lecturer in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in March 2017. My research interest is in understanding and modulating mechanisms associated with cardiovascular cell biology and cardiovascular diseases, with the aid of genome engineering in human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (hiPSCs).

As a bioscience graduate, originally from India, I did my Masters in Molecular Genetics in Leicester in 2000, when I started to apply my passion in understanding cardiovascular disease (ageing). This was followed by a PhD (2001-2005) with a scholarship, to understand cell cycle biology in cardiac hypertrophy, using fission yeast as a model system (MRC, Harwell & University of Reading).  I stayed at the MRC for a year as Visiting Fellow before I moved to do my first postdoc position (2006-9) in University of Surrey, researching into oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction.

I moved to Nottingham in 2009 to pursue a second postdoc term which led to an academic position as Assistant Professor (teaching) in Stem Cell Biology with a research interest in differentiation and maturation of human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. During my time in Nottingham, I also served as Module Convenor of Embryonic Stem Cell Module for the MSc Stem Cell Technology course from 2013 till 2017.

In my current research group at Keele, we focus on stem cell biology and regenerative medicine towards cardiac disease modelling and more importantly, disease modulation. Central to this is developing optogenetic strategies (based on dCas9 CRISPR) to study and modulate cell signal mechanisms in context of biology and disease at the cellular level. Auxiliary to this is the development of 3D engineered models using optoelectronics for biomedical applications. We are also applying our optogenetic technology to other models like in cancer cell biology (brain tumour research), spinal cord injury, drug mechanisms, etc, in collaborations within and beyond Keele.

 I am currently the Course Director for the MSc Cell & Tissue Engineering course in the School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering, besides leading on the module of Stem Cells in the MSc course and on the module of Developmental Biology in the UG course at Keele University.

Key academic/citizenship credits:

-          Course Director (since 2019) for MSc Cell & Tissue Engineering, Keele University

-          Module Convenor (since 2017) for Stem Cells Module for MSc Cell & Tissue Engineering, Keele University

-          Module Lead (since 2017) for Developmental Biology Module for BSc Life Sciences, Keele University

-          BSCR (British Society for Cardiovascular Research) Ambassador for Keele University (since 2017)

-          Deputy Lead of Regenerative Medicine Theme, School of Pharmacy & Bioengineering, Keele University (since 2018)

-          Academic Lead for Keele University - RSCI Bahrain Medical Studentship Short Programme (2019)

-          External Examiner for MRes Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cells (2015-18), Newcastle

-          University L’Oreal Fellowship Reviewer (occasional)

-          Grant Reviewer & in reviewer board for MDPI journals (various)

-          Winner of the prestigious Clinical Science ‘Young Investigator Award’ at the national conference for BSCR, March, 2007.

Research and scholarship

Research theme: Regenerative medicine

Currently serve as Deputy Theme lead for the Regenerative Medicine theme.

Our lab research focuses on understanding mechanisms in stem cell biology and stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte biology for disease modelling and modulation, using genome engineering and 3D bioengineering tools. This involves state-of-the-art technologies like optogenetic CRISPR (light-responsive dCas9 CRISPR) and optoelectronics (light-stimulated electronics).  

Current or recent projects include research into:

  1.  Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC) (funded by EPSRC and BHF)
  2. Diabetic Cardiomyopathy  (self-funded PhD)
  3. Ependymoma (funded by Brain Tumor Charity)                

For this, our lab has expertise in:

(a) developing technologies for high efficiency in situ cardiomyocyte differentiation and maturation from human stem cells using in-house developed methods,

(b) studying cell signal mechanisms through transcription factor networks in context of biology or disease,

(c) developing genetic strategies (CRISPR and dCas9 CRISPR optogenetics) for modelling and modulating mechanisms at the cellular level in high throughput using a custom-designed optogenetic platform, and,

(d) integrating bioengineering approaches (based on nanofiber composites) to produce 3D models.

This is hoped to lead to true in vitro models from patient-derived human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) that would mimic in vivo phenotypes and with the potential of using genome engineering to reverse those phenotypes. With 3D bioengineering approaches, we aim to produce true translational models of disease that has potential in drug screening (for clinical translation), creating in vivo-like models (for 3R’s) and for assessing clinical suitability (for say, transplantation).

Current lab members and their projects:

-          Sara Barreto-Francisco (EPSRC-funded) - Optoelectric Stimulation for Cardiac Disease Modelling in 3D using hiPSCs (human induced pluripotent stem cells)

-          Alfred Isaac Kyambadde (self-funded) - Optogenetic Modelling of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy using human induced Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Other members:

-          Leonie Ruth Hamel (Keele University - RSCI Bahrain Medical Studentship Short Programme exchange student, 2019)

-          Vibin Alageswaran (Co-supervised PhD student, 2017-20)

-          Teresa Schiatti (MSc Cell & Tissue Engineering Project Student, 2019)

-          Amin Choudhury (MSc Cell & Tissue Engineering Project Student, 2018)

Scopus ID: 54398632200; orcid.org/0000-0002-8498-9965

Cardiac Progenitor Cells From Stem Cells: Learning From Genetics and Biomaterials. (Review)

Sara Barreto, Leonie Hamel, Teresa Schiatti, Ying Yang, Vinoj George.

Cells 2019, 8, 1536; doi: 10.3390/cells8121536

Drug-mediated shortening of action potentials in LQTS2 hiPSC-cardiomyocytes.

Duncan G, Firth K, George V, Hoang MD, Staniforth A, Smith G and Denning C.

Stem Cells Dev. 2017 Dec 1;26(23):1695-1705.

Automated electrophysiological and pharmacological evaluation of human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes

Rajamohan D, Kalra S, Hoang MD, George V, Staniforth A, Russell H, Yang X and Denning C.

Stem Cells Dev. 2016 Mar 15;25(6):439-52.

Discovery of a Novel Polymer for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Expansion and Multilineage Differentiation

Celiz AD, Smith J, Patel A, Hook A, Rajamohan D, George V, Patel M, Epa V, Singh T, Langer R, Anderson D, Allen N, Hay D, Winkler D, Barrett D, Davies M, Young L, Denning C, Alexander M

Adv Mater. 2015 Jul;27(27):4006-12.

Exon skipping and gene transfer restore dystrophin expression in human induced pluripotent stem cells-cardiomyocytes harboring DMD mutations.

Dick E, Kalra S, Anderson D, George V, Ritso M, Laval SH, Barresi R, Aartsma-Rus A, Lochmüller H, Denning C.

Stem Cells Dev. 2013 Oct 15;22(20):2714-24.

Non-invasive label-free monitoring the cardiac differentiation of human embryonic stem cells in-vitro by Raman spectroscopy.

Pascut FC, Kalra S, George V, Welch N, Denning C, Notingher I.

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Jun;1830(6):3517-24.

Toward label-free Raman-activated cell sorting of cardiomyocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells.

Pascut FC, Goh HT, George V, Denning C, Notingher I.

J Biomed Opt. 2011 Apr;16(4):045002.

Chronic cocaine-induced cardiac oxidative stress and mitogen-activated protein kinase activation: the role of Nox2 oxidase.

Fan L, Sawbridge D, George V, Teng L, Bailey A, Kitchen I, Li JM.

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2009 Jan;328(1):99-106

Regulation of cell cycle and stress responses to hydrostatic pressure in fission yeast.

George VT, Brooks G, Humphrey TC.

Mol Biol Cell. 2007 Oct;18(10):4168-79. 

Nox2 regulates endothelial cell cycle arrest and apoptosis via p21cip1 and p53.

Li JM, Fan LM, George VT, Brooks G.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Sep 15;43(6):976-86

Reviews

Cardiomyocytes from human pluripotent stem cells: From laboratory curiosity to industrial biomedical platform.

Chris Denning; Viola Borgdorff; James Crutchley; Karl Firth; Vinoj George; Spandan Kalra; Alexander Kondrashov; Minh Hoang; Diogo Mosqueira; Asha Patel; Ljupcho Prodanov; Divya Rajamohan; James Smith; Lorraine Young

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 Oct 31. pii: S0167-4889(15)00367-5.

Current status of drug screening and disease modelling in human pluripotent stem cells.

Rajamohan D, Matsa E, Kalra S, Crutchley J, Patel A, George V, Denning C.

Bioessays (Review). 2013 Mar;35(3):281-98.

Nox isoforms in the vascular system: Molecular properties and biological functions.                            

Li JM, George VT                                                                                                                                                               

The Bulletin of The British Society for Cardiovascular Research (Review), Vol. 20, Jan 2007.

 

Press releases & Accreditation

Principal Investigator in recently awarded NSMI Grant (£20k, 2018-20), based on the dLITE genome engineering technology developed by V.George.

Title: ‘Modulating disease severity in Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC) using optogenetics in human induced pluripotent stem cells.

Press and Media Release in 2018.

https://nsmedicalinstitute.co.uk/2018/04/north-staffs-scientists-seek-cure-for-silent-killer-heart-defect-affecting-620000-brits/

-Co-Investigator in recently awarded BTC New Ideas Grant (£84k, 2017-18), based on the dLITE genome engineering technology developed by V.George.

Title: ‘Shining light’ on DNA mutations in childhood brain tumours to reveal new drug targets for therapy.

Press and Media Release in 2017.

Funding

Current

  • BHF PhD Studentship grant (value £107,036) – from 2020 to 2023
  • EPSRC PhD studentship (internal – stipend, fees and consumables) – from 2019 to 2022
  • North Staffordshire Medical Institute (NSMI) grant (value £20,000) – from 2018-2020
  • BTC New Ideas Grant, Co-I, Keele University and University of Nottingham (value £81,359) – from 2017-2018
  • Acorn PhD studentship, PI/co-I, Keele University (Internal – stipend, fees and consumables)  - from 2017-2020

Previous

  • University of Nottingham Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells Research Priority Area, PI (value £4000 Research Award) (1stprize in ‘Dragon’s Den’ pitch presentation) - 2016
  • MRC DTP studentship, PI, University of Nottingham (value £71,906) – from 2015-2017
  • International studentship, PI, University of Nottingham (value £116,000) – from 2015-2017
  • Oxbridge CRM Pump Prime funding, Collaborator (Nottingham), (value £23,100) – 1 year - from 2015-2016
  • Attune NeXT International flow cytometry grant runner up (value £1500 + payment towards flow cytometer) & ACEA Biosciences International grant runner up (for free loan of machine) (Nottingham) - 2016

Other Information/News

A fully-funded PhD position (BHF studentship) is available in my lab from March 2020 for the project:

‘Creating 3D models of ARVC (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy) disease with light-induced tuneable severity in stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes’

Please email v.george@keeele.ac.uk for more information.

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