Ageing and Frailty

Young female face on the left merging with old female face on the right.

We research inflammatory processes that drive human ageing and translate this to interventions to prevent age-related disease and frailty and improve outcomes after trauma. Our discovery science is multidisciplinary including mechanobiology, epigenetics, immunometabolism, microbiome, immunothrombosis and immunesenescence.  We lead two national centres of excellence: MRC-Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research and the Scar Free Foundation Centre for Conflict Wound Research.

Professor Janet LordTheme Lead

Professor Janet Lord

Professor of Cell Biology

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Listen to Professor Lord's podcast for the Guardian Science Weekly 'Will Silicon Valley help us to live to 200 and beyond?' where she discusses with Ian Sample the science of ageing, extending our health as well as our lifespans and how old we could actually be.

Aims of our research

key researchers as detailed below

We aim not just to understand the mechanisms that underlie the loss of immune function or musculoskeletal health but to use this knowledge to develop interventions, both lifestyle and pharmacological, to improve health in older adults and trauma victims.  To do so, we employ all elements of the translational pipeline with access to clinical populations at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. 



  • 2022-2025, MRC UKRI, £1,322,218

Project:  MICA: Synovial fibroblast pain pathotypes: A roadmap to understanding and targeting the complexity of patient-reported joint pain in osteoarthritis (Lead investigator: Simon Jones).

  • 2022-2024, MRC-BBSRC Ageing Network, £211,530

Project: Food for added life years: Putting research into action (Co-investigator: Niharika Duggal).

  • 2022-2024,  BBSRC, £200,000

Project: Establishing a network to catalyse collaboration for reducing immune ageing (CARINA) (Co-Investigator: Janet Lord).

  • 2022 - 2024, National Institute for Health Research, £249,927

Project: WHiTE-DECI: World Hip Trauma Evaluation – Delirium and Cognitive Impairment; a randomised feasibility trial comparing severity of delirium symptomatology between hip fracture patients 60 years and over treated with a peri-operative infusion of anti-TNF or placebo (Co-Investigator: Thomas Jackson).

  • 2022-2023, Scar Free Foundation, £120,000

Project: Does major trauma accelerate the ageing process and can it be alleviated by physical activity? (Lead investigator: Janet Lord).

  • 2021 – 2024, National Institute for Health Research, £2,495,158

Project: OPTIMising therapies, disease trajectories, and AI assisted clinical management for patients Living with complex multimorbidity (OPTIMAL study) (lead investigator: Thomas Jackson).

  • 2021-2023, Academy of Medical Sciences (Springboard Award), £100,000

Project: Gut microbiome dysbiosis and immune ageing: investigating associations and potential for novel therapies (Lead investigator: Niharika Duggal).

  • 2021-2023, Academy of Medical Sciences (Newton Fellowship), £99,000

Project: Understanding the influence of physical activity on ageing processes (Lead investigator:  Amanda Sardeli).

  • 2020-2023, MRC Research Grant, £591,000

Project: Lactate as an inflammatory early signal in ectopic lymphoid neogenesis and its translational impact in patients with autoimmune diseases (Lead investigator: Claudio Mauro).

  • 2020-2023, M . BHF PhD studentship, £107,000

Project: Measurement of EV in cardiovascular disease using a novel interferometric method (Lead supervisors: Paul Harrison  and Thomas)

  • 2020-2022, Marie-Curie Fellowship, €225,000

Project: Dissecting the impact of lactate in tuberculosis (Lead investigator:  Alba Llibre).

  • 2020 - 2022 Swiss National Foundation (SNF) SPARK, £70,000

Project: Understanding nuclear mechanical properties of monocytes for rapid diagnosis of inflammation (Lead investigator: Nikhil Jain).

  • 2018-2022, Versus Arthritis, £201,248

Project: Obesity-associated joint inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis: The role of long non-coding RNAs (Lead investigator: Simon Jones).

  • 2017-2022, Versus Arthritis, £228,668

Project: Are synovitis-associated lncRNAs central regulators of inflammatory pain in patients with knee OA: A route to identifying a novel analgesic drug for OA patients  (Lead investigator: Simon Jones).

Our staff

Ageing and Frailty Principal Investigators
Principal InvestigatorResearch Interest
Professor Janet Lord Dysregulation of immunity in old age.
Dr Niharika Duggal Impact of ageing on the immune system and the underlying mechanisms.
Dr Paul Harrison Influence of traumatic injury and burns on the systemic inflammatory response.
Dr Thomas Jackson Cognitive disorders and how these affect both long term cognitive outcomes and the link with the ageing immune system.
Professor Simon W Jones Understanding the inflammatory and metabolic mechanisms that mediate joint and musculoskeletal pathological disorders.
Professor Claudio Mauro Interconnections between metabolic and inflammatory pathways.
Dr Alba Llibre Understanding metabolism in host-pathogen interactions.
Dr Amanda Sardeli Impact of exercise on healthy ageing.
Professor Joao Pedro Magalhaes Understanding genetic, cellular, and molecular mechanisms of ageing.
Dr Jon Hazeldine Understanding mechanisms underlying trauma-induced immune suppression.
Dr Jose M Romero Hombrebueno Understanding how mitochondrial dysfunction impacts on eye disease.

Our patient partnerships


Clinical Trial ID/IRAS

Patient Cohort

Skeletal muscle/adipose cross-talk: novel modulators of OA joint inflammation

IRAS 206880

1000 patients with end-stage osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, hand, shoulder, elbow, foot

 Inflammation and OA joint pain

IRAS 228205

41 patients with early osteoarthritis; 41 patients with end-stage knee osteoarthritis

Intrinsic differences at the curve apex in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

IRAS 256224

22 patient with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Evaluation of Mechanisms of Sarcopaenia in Chronic Inflammatory Disease (Chronic Liver Disease, Inflammatory Arthritis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease) pre- and post-standard of care intervention; an observational study

IRAS 238190

150 patients with chronic inflammatory disease: Rheumatoid arthritis, Chronic liver disease, Inflammatory bowel disease

Scientific Investigation of the Biological Pathways Following Thermal Injury-2 (SIFTI 2)


200 burns patients with longitudinal sampling from day 1 after injury to 1 year

Birmingham 1000 Elders


>600 healthy older adults aged 60 and over who support ageing research.

Investigating the role of lactate during Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection

IRAS 278536

50 individuals with latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and 50 with active tuberculosis disease