Research Themes

body-our-research

Research areas and groups

From rheumatoid arthritis to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the long term consequences of major injury, our research focusses on finding solutions to a range of chronic inflammation driven illnesses through a highly collaborative approach with University Hospitals Birmingham. The Institute also addresses the issue of ageing, which is accompanied by low level inflammation which makes older adults more susceptible to diseases such as dementia, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.  

Our major research areas

Ageing and Trauma

Ageing and Trauma is led by Professors: Janet Lord and Naiem Moiemen. The theme has 3 core aims: to understand the impact of ageing on immunity; to determine the mechanisms underlying loss of musculoskeletal health with age with a focus on inflammation; to determine the immune response to trauma and how this is affected by the age of the patient. Importantly,we aim not just to document the effect of age on immunity but to understand the mechanisms that underlie the loss of immune function with age and to use this knowledge to develop interventions, both lifestyle and pharmacological, to improve immunity and health in older adults and trauma victims.

The theme benefits from a good mix of PIs, with clinicians (Jackson, Foster, Moiemen, Sapey) and non-clinicians (Lord, Harrison, Falconer, Jones, Mauro), allowing us to address mechanisms of ageing and the response to trauma and rapidly apply this knowledge and expertise to the design and running of clinical trials.

The theme has been very successful in securing major awards in national competition, with our 3 centres of excellence and the CCWR bringing in £13m for core support as well as funding for PhDs (22 in CMAR alone) and core research studies.

Neuroscience, Trauma and Ophthalmology 

Translational Neurosciences & Ophthalmology represents a group of dedicated academic clinicians and scientists who work collectively within defined multidisciplinary research teams, each with a strong translational focus on the development of novel strategies, tools, diagnostics and technologies relevant to Neurotrauma, a significant cause of death and disability worldwide, as well as clinical consequences arising from Neurotrauma and disease, e.g. neurodegeneration. It should be noted that the Neurotrauma team is closely integrated with ophthalmology, evidenced by overlapping and collaborative research interests in inflammation, scarring, regeneration and repair and with unity of research purpose (see separate but linked Ophthalmology 5 year plan). We hold many joint grants covering all areas of our translational activities.

Our group is situated predominantly within the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, but actively works across other MDS Institutes and University of Birmingham Colleges (particularly LES and EPS), and has a strong focus on all aspects of acute and chronic translational Neurotrauma research, embracing both wet and dry preclinical and clinical research on neurodegeneration, neuroregeneration, ophthalmology, mental health, resilience and repair (including pharmacology, therapeutics, devices, etc.).

Opthalmology

Ophthalmology is uniquely placed in having a group of dedicated academic clinicians and scientists who work on inflammatory eye disease, a significant cause of preventable blindness worldwide. One focus of our research is the regulation of ocular immunity, particularly intraocular inflammation (uveitis). This is of importance as the eye is a site of immune privilege and the restriction of immune responses in the eye protects this vital organ from pathological damage. However, these regulating mechanisms are insufficient in patients with uveitis, where significant sight-threatening inflammation can occur. We have set out to study the reasons for this failure, in the hope that we can identify new therapeutic targets for these conditions. The development of end points including objective measurements of disease activity and damage using imaging and core outcome sets of Patient Reported Outcomes will allow better assessment of therapeutic interventions.  

Our strengths lie with the international reputations and expertise of the PIs and the Birmingham and Midland Eye Centre (BMEC) as an acknowledged Centre of Excellence with large cohorts of patients, particularly in the field of ocular inflammation, that serve as a basis for translational research.

Perioperative and Critical Care

The goal of the PACT Group (Peri-Operative, Acute and Critical Care) is to develop Birmingham as a nationally and internationally recognised Centre of Clinical & Translational Research Excellence in Peri-operative, Acute and Critical Care.

The PACT group aims to attract, develop and retain researchers of the highest calibre to bridge the gap between pre-clinical and clinical research, focusing on the areas of Peri-operative, Acute & Critical Care.  We have extensive expertise in conducting translational & reverse translational, phase II, III clinical trials, and health services research.  We currently conduct single and multi-centre phase II and III Randomised Controlled Trials in sepsis, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Community Acquired Pneumonia, chronic post-surgical pain, hypothermia in cardiac arrest in children and post-operative delirium in hip fracture patients.  We run concurrent translational basic science studies in these areas and health service delivery research in acute and critical care.

Our strength lies in the young and energetic team of researchers led by four nationally/internationally well-known professors who are clinically based on three largest NHS Trusts in England serving a diverse population of 2.5 million including women and children.

Respiratory

Respiratory Research at the University of Birmingham aims to develop our basic science understanding of the pathophysiology of both acute and chronic inflammatory lung disease. We use animal models and translational studies to identify targets for intervention and undertake clinical experimental medicine studies to establish ways of repurposing medications for novel indications. 

Rheumatology Research Group

The overarching vision for our group is to improve clinical outcomes for those with, and at risk of developing, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjogren’s syndrome (SS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Our multidisciplinary team of academic and clinical rheumatologists, general practitioners, biological and social scientists, allied health professionals and patient research partners works in an integrated way focusing on important clinical and biological questions that cross traditional disciplines and often require long-term commitment and investment. We run a substantial research group comprising over 50 staff. Our research has a major focus on inflammatory arthritis and in particular the pathobiology and comorbidity and patient reported outcomes associated with RA and SS as well as the epidemiology, clinical management and outcome of SLE. 

A particular strength of our research is therapeutic targeting of the tissue microenvironment and our skills in comparing and contrasting the biological processes underpinning the development, maintenance and resolution of inflammation. This process driven approach has allowed us to develop a unique approach to inflammation research in which shared biological mechanisms are compared across a number of traditionally independent organ based medical disciplines to develop biologically meaningful and therapeutically tractable process-driven links to other disease areas in Inflammation biology.