Dr Richard D Horniblow MSci, PhD, AFHEA

Dr Richard D Horniblow

School of Biomedical Sciences
Lecturer – Teaching and Research

Contact details

Institute of Clinical Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Richard is an early career researcher within the School of Biomedical Science in the Institute of Clinical Sciences. His research focusses on how different dietary components are implicated in the development and progression of intestinal diseases (particularly inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer). The majority of his work has focussed on dietary iron and how this key nutrient can modulate intestinal diseases. From this, he has developed novel therapies that can target toxic iron rendering it inert. Most recently he is developing new synbiotics that are able to deliver highly viable gut bacteria to the colon that may have therapeutic potential in treating IBD. Richard is an associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy and teaches on several modules in the Biomedical Science and MBChB programmes. He is also a co-lead for the Biomedical Birmingham International Summer School.


  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2018
  • PhD in Medicinal Chemistry/Cancer, 2015
  • MSci in Chemistry with Pharmacology, Class I, University of Birmingham, 2011


Dr Richard Horniblow graduated with a first class master’s degree in Chemistry with Pharmacology from the University of Birmingham in 2011. He then went on to undertake a PhD from a BBSRC CASE studentship (sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline) in the fields of Medical Chemistry and Cancer Science under the supervision of Dr Chris Tselepis and Prof Zoe Pikramenou. Richard’s PhD research investigated the role of natural biopolymers and polyphenolic compounds as potential medicinal iron chelation agents. Upon successful completion in 2015, Richard continued to research his interests in the field of iron chelation and chemoprevention by undertaking a post-doctoral position within the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences. With a highly multidisciplinary background, he has become interested in formulation development and drug delivery. Most recently in 2019, Richard became a lecturer in the School of Biomedical Science.

Throughout this research period, work has led to the development of potential therapeutic agents of which one bioactive has recently been assessed in a first-in-man clinical study.  Richard has published a number of research articles in internationally recognised journals and has obtained grants from the BBSRC and Wellcome Trust to develop his translational research.

View Richards ResearchGate Profile


Postgraduate supervision

Richard supervises postgraduate students and post-doctoral researchers.


Research interests

Richard’s research areas are highly multidisciplinary and translational with a focus on the development of new therapies that can combat intestinal disease.  He is also interested in understanding the underpinning mechanisms by which specific dietary components can modulate intestinal health (with a particular focus on metal ions and fibres).

Current projects

  • The development of colon-targeted synbiotics: using prebiotic fibres as an encapsulation matrix, select bacterial strains are formulated into colon-targeted micro-composites that could alter the microbial dysbiosis observed in many intestinal diseases.
  • Identification of novel iron-binding fibres and biopolymers: screening a range of naturally occurring fibres for their potential action as either iron-chelation agents or iron-fortificants. Such compounds be used to alleviate ferrotoxicity and as a potential therapeutic platform for iron deficiency anaemia respectively.
  • Dietary driven epigenetic changes within the colon: we have identified that common dietary components have a significant influence on the colonic epigenome - could these compounds be modulating disease through this mechanism?
  • Dietary influences on the microbiome: how do common dietary agents affect our microbiome and how could they potentially cause a dysbiosis in disease states?  Through the utilisation of a model of the human intestine we can examine these effects.

Other activities

Richard is involved in many public engagement events for Cancer Research UK, raising awareness of his research. His research is also showcased on chemBAM.com and assists in developing demonstrations suitable for use in schools with the aim of bringing university-research to students. He was previously a PhD tutor for The Brilliant Club, a charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities.


  • RD Horniblow, P Mistry, MN Quraishi, AD Beggs, T Van de Wiele, TH Iqbal, C Tselepis. The Safety and Tolerability of a Potential Alginate-Based Iron Chelator; Results of A Healthy Participant Study. Nutrients, 2019.
  • E. Phillips, RD Horniblow, V Poole, M Bedford, DG Ward, AJ Kirkham, J Tomlinson, TH Iqbal, C Tselepis. A potential role for hepcidin in obesity-driven colorectal tumourigenesis. Oncology Reports, 2018.
  • R Hollingworth, RD Horniblow, C Forrest, G Stewart, R Grand, Localisation of double-strand break repair proteins to viral replication compartments following lytic reactivation of KSHV. Journal of Virology, 2017.
  • RD Horniblow, M Bedford, R Hollingworth, S Evans et al, B-RAF mutations are associated with increased iron regulatory protein-2 expression in colorectal tumourigenesis. Cancer science 2017.
  • RD Horniblow, D Henesy, TH Iqbal, C Tselepis, Modulation of iron transport, metabolism and reactive oxygen status by quercetin-iron complexes in vitro. Mol Nutr Food Res 2017, 61.
  • N Jian, M Dowle, RD Horniblow, C Tselepis, RE Palmer, Morphology of the ferritin iron core by aberration corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy. Nanotechnology 2016, 27, 46lt02.
  • RD Horniblow, GO Latunde-Dada, SE Harding, M Schneider et al, The chelation of colonic luminal iron by a unique sodium alginate for the improvement of gastrointestinal health. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research 2016, 60, 2098-2108.
  • RD Horniblow, M Dowle, TH Iqbal, GO Latunde-Dada et al, Alginate-Iron Speciation and Its Effect on In Vitro Cellular Iron Metabolism. PLoS One 2015, 10, e0138240.
  • MR Bedford, SJ Ford, RD Horniblow, TH Iqbal, C Tselepis, Iron chelation in the treatment of cancer: a new role for deferasirox? Journal of clinical pharmacology 2013, 53, 885-891.

View all publications in research portal