Our research

our-research

Cardiovascular disease remains the single most frequent cause of death in the world, while cardiovascular health has continual impact on our everyday life.

Clinical cardiovascular medicine and research have made impressive progress in the last decades, based on understanding of key pathological events such as coronary artery plaque rupture and thrombosis or the vicious regulatory circles causing heart failure, and on subsequent rigorous evaluation of new therapeutic interventions in large controlled clinical trials.  However, there remain many questions regarding the mechanisms of the underlying pathophysiologies.  At the same time, we continually search for ways improve our health and prevent disease through lifestyle choices such as exercise and diet.

Our multidisciplinary research brings together researchers in platelet, leukocyte, endothelial and myocardial cell biology, with those seeking to understand the pathways accelerating arterial and heart diseases, and the factors influencing cardiovascular health.  Studies span from basic research on surface receptors, signalling pathways and gene regulation, to functional studies of thrombo-inflammatory, bleeding and angiogenic processes, to analysis of cardiovascular performance and disease in patients and in animal models.  Major developments, expansion and improvement of our research facilities help us to translate the very latest scientific research findings in cardiovascular sciences to clinical benefit.

Clinical and Integrated Cardiovascular Sciences (CICS)

The CICS researchers have joined forces to use clinical and basic science approaches to tackle the emerging cardiovascular epidemics, especially atrial fibrillation and heart failure, which often develop in interaction between cardiac dysfunction and concomitant diseases such as chronic kidney disease and diabetes.

We combine a broad range of expertise, ranging from epidemiological and population sciences, the design and conduct of clinical trials to mechanistic and complex physiological studies in animal models. There is particular expertise in the use of novel biomarkers and high level cardiovascular imaging as end-points in clinical studies designed to test new approaches to disease treatment prior to large scale mortality.

We also use models of specific contributors to chronic cardiovascular disease, such as cardiomyopathies, sleep apnoea, diabetes, hypertension and exercise, which can be used to explore disease processes and to challenge genetic modifications known to cause cardiovascular disease. We apply our combined translational research power to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for atrial fibrillation, myocardial infarction, heart failure, hypertension and newly recognised factors including chronic kidney disease; all major current threats to cardiovascular health. Our work also benefits from a wider network of researchers and patients in Birmingham and beyond.

Research groups

Vascular Inflammation, Thrombosis and Angiogenesis (VITA)

The VITA researchers seeks to integrate studies of inflammation, thrombus formation and angiogenesis, recognising that all may occur in co-ordinated responses to vascular injury and that they share common activatory pathways.  Moreover, linked thrombo-inflammatory responses occur not only in vascular disease but in cardiac conditions such as atrial fibrillation and fibrosis, bringing integration between the VITA and CICS themes.

Birmingham-based researchers have uncovered several novel pathways of regulation of platelet activation including the collagen receptor complex, GPVI-FcR -chain, the Podoplanin receptor CLEC-2 and novel platelet inhibitory protein, G6b-B. They have developed unique in vitro models to study regulation of vascular endothelium, uncovering roles of stromal cells and flow in chronic inflammation and angiogenesis.

Novel lipid mediators controlling neutrophil recruitment have been discovered and studies of reverse neutrophil migration extended to murine models, suggesting that these cells may contribute to lung pathology. Studies on endothelium have also revealed novel genes and pathways regulating angiogenesis. Our research has also played a leading role in clinical trials changing clinical practice in peripheral vascular disease (BASIL trial).

Research groups

Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE)

COMPARE is a unique collaboration between the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham that brings together leading researchers from the two universities to identify new ways of visualising membrane proteins and receptors to identify new ways to target surface proteins. 

The information from the state-of-the-art imaging technology will enable development of a new generation of drugs that will have reduced side effects by virtue of targeting receptors in their unique membrane environment.  We will apply the ‘COMPARE’ approach to the major killers of mankind, cardiovascular disease and cancer.