Dr Helen McGettrick PhD, MSc, BSc, FHEA

Helen McGettrick

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Reader in Inflammation and Vascular Biology
Director of the Integrated PhD in Life Sciences Doctoral Training Programme
Interim Institute Head of Research

Contact details

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Helen McGettrick is an experimental biologist who specialises in developing multi-cellular in vitro models to examine the processes by which tissue resident cells influence leukocyte adhesion and migration during inflammation.

Helen’s research focuses on leukocyte recruitment and stromal cell biology in health and disease, in which she has several publications. She is currently using this expertise in the fields of rheumatology, diabetes, stem cell biology and cancer biology. She has received grants from Arthritis Research UK, in the form of a Career Development Fellowship, Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation, Enterprise Birmingham Fund, and Pfizer.

Video clipFrustrated migration of human peripheral blood lymphocytes on cytokine-stimulated endothelium:

During inflammation, lymphocytes migrate over the surface (white, bright cells), through and underneath (dark cells) activated endothelial cells to enter the tissue. If the lymphocytes do not receive an appropriate signal, their migration becomes frustrated, as they transit into and out of the endothelial monolayer searching for it.


  • Professional Certificate in Academic Practice - University of Birmingham, 2016
  • PhD in Medical Science - University of Birmingham, 2006
  • MSc in Immunology – Distinction, University of Birmingham, 2002
  • BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry - First Class, University of Lancaster, 2001


Helen graduated from the University of Lancaster in 2001 with a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry, during this course she spent a year studying aboard at Oregon State University, USA. She obtained a MSc in Immunology from the University of Birmingham in 2002, undertaking a research project looking at neutrophil apoptosis (cell death) with Janet Lord and Dagmar Scheel-Toellner in the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing. She subsequently joined Gerard Nash’s Cardiovascular Rheology Group in the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, where she completed her PhD in Medical Sciences in 2006.

Helen has continued to work in Birmingham investigating the processes controlling leukocyte recruitment and fate, and bone homeostatis both in health and disease, focusing on the role of the tissue microenvironment. She was appointed as a University Fellow in Inflammation Biology within the System Science for Health multidisciplinary translational research consortium at Birmingham in 2011.

In 2012, Helen was awarded a five year Arthritis Research Career Development Fellowship to explore the role of synovial fibroblasts in regulating leukocyte accumulation during the development of persistent arthritis. Moreover, she was awarded the prestigious “Garrod Prize” by the British Society for Rheumatology in 2016. Helen was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow(Associate Professor) in Inflammation Biology in 2017, and recently as Director of the Integrated PhD in Life Sciences Doctoral Training Programme (iDTP) across the Colleges of Medical and Dental Sciences, and Life and Environmental Sciences. 

Helen is co-organising the Inaugural Birmingham Inflammation, Repair and Ageing at the University of Birmingham in July 2021. https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/facilities/mds-cpd/conferences/bira/index.aspx




Widening Participation

Academic Lead

Access to Birmingham – Biomedical Sciences

Assignment Tutor

Access to Birmingham – Biomedical Sciences

Previous undergraduate research projects

  • Burden of wrist arthritis in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (2021)
  • Investigating the therapeutic potential of syndecan-2+ mesenchymal stem cells in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis (2019)
  • Exploring the role of a novel reparative peptide in bone homeostasis and repair (2018)
  • Investigating the therapeutic window and effect of PEPITEM treatment in rheumatoid arthritis progression (2017)
  • Fibroblasts regulate inflammation: What changes in early rheumatoid arthritis to make it persist? (2015)
  • Characterising the ability of mesenchymal stem cell-derived adipocytes and osteoblasts to influence leukocyte recruitment to vascular endothelial cells (2015)
  • Investigating how platelets influence the recruitment of mesenchymal stem cells from the blood (2015)
  • Examining the immunomodulatory properties of MSC (2014)
  • Characterising the ability of mesenchymal stem cells to influence the migration of leukocytes through vascular endothelial cells (2013)
  • How do lymphatic endothelial cells influence lymphocyte migration during inflammation? (2013)
  • Establishing the role of CD248 in influencing PDGF signalling during angiogenesis (2012-2013)
  • Characterising the process of leukocyte migration through lymphatic endothelium:  which leukocytes can exit tissue? (2012)

Previous summer research projects

  • Improving engineered tissue constructs for compatibility with human leukocytes (2014)
  • Characterising how MSC influence leukocyte migration through endothelium  using novel in vitro constructs (2013)
  • Developing an in vitro construct to model the entry and exit of lymphocytes in inflamed tissue (2013)

Postgraduate supervision

Helen currently supervises doctoral researchers working on the following projects:

• Regulation of leukocyte recruitment by fibroblast-endothelial interactions: Understanding the stromal switch from resolution to persistent inflammation
• Characterising the therapeutic potential of a novel peptide in age-related bone loss, skeletal remodelling and repair
• Accelerated ageing as cause of disease pathogenesis, progression and multi-morbidity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
• In vitro and in vivo vascular response to exercise and supplement induced changes in blood flow

For researchers who are considering undertaking a PhD in Life Sciences at Birmingham and have secured funding or are eligible for funding from local sources, please contact idtp@contacts.bham.ac.uk .


Our research group is interested in identifying the endogenous regulatory pathways that control the normal processes of inflammation and tissue repair and  and how these go wrong in immune mediated inflammatory diseases.

Broadly speaking we have three main areas of interest:

  • factors affecting leukocyte entry into tissue, movement through tissue and their subsequent exit from tissue;
  • regulation on bone homeostasis and repair mechanisms;
  • endothelial phenotypes in health, disease and different tissue beds;

We have ongoing projects examining:

  • how mesenchymal stromal cells influence endothelial responses and leukocyte recruitment;
  • the ability of PEPITEM to regulate osteoblast and osteoclast function in health, old age and bone related diseases.
  • the shared mechanisms of pathology in old age and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs), focusing on changes in leukocyte phenotypes and function;
  • the regulation of T-cell trafficking in health and arthritis 

We combine imaging novel in vitro, multi-cellular static and flow-based culture systems incorporating primary human cells (from healthy individuals or patients), with systems biology approaches to large omics datasets and murine models of acute or persistent inflammation.

PhD projects using these technologies to answer our research interests are available to researchers who are able to self-fund the projects or to oversea's individuals who have already secured e.g. government funding to fully support the project (contact idtp@contacts.bham.ac.uk or visit the website for more information https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/pgr/idtp/index.aspx ).

Other activities

Editoral Board

  • Scientific Reports (2015 - present) 
  • Annals of Autoimmunity and Research

Committee Membership


  • British Society of Immunology Forum Regional Representative for England
  • European Workshop for Rheumatology Research – Social Media Lead for 2019 meeting 
  • Arthritis Research UK – PhD Studentship Committee                                 
  • British Society of Rheumatology  – Mentor for Rheumatology researchers mentoring scheme                 
  • Arthritis Research UK – College of Experts
  • British Society of Immunology, Leukocyte Migration Affinity Group
  • UK Cell Adhesion Society


  • Institute of Inflammation and Ageing Committee for Education – Member  
  • MDS Internalisation Committee – Member   
  • MDS International PhD DTP Management Committee – Chair       
  • MDS Postgraduate Research Committee – Member                       
  • Institute of Inflammation and Ageing (IIA) Deputy Lead for Education        
  • IIA Academic Representative - Postdoctoral and Early Researcher Career Development and Training Committee (PERCAT)           
  • Wellcome Trust MIDAS PhD Studentship Supervisory Board
  • Early Career Representative - Institute of Inflammation and Ageing Executive Committee

Conference Organisation

  • 31st UK Adhesion Society Meeting - University of Birmingham, 2019
  • 3rd BSI Leukocyte Migration Group (LMG) Meeting  - University of Leeds, 2017
  • Ist British Microcirculation Society and  UK Cell Adhesion Society Meeting - Birmingham, 2017
  • 27th UK Cell Adhesion Society Meeting - Birmingham, 2015
  • 2nd BSI Leukocyte Migration Affinity Group - Birmingham, 2015
  • 26th UK Adhesion Society - Birmingham, 2013
  • 24th UK Adhesion Society - Birmingham, 2011
  • British Microvascular Society - Workshop - Birmingham, 2009

Membership and Affiliation

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • British Society of Rheumatology
  • British Society of Immunology
  • Society of Leukocyte Biology

Prizes and Awards

  • Garrod Prize - British Society of Rheumatology, 2016
  • European League of Rheumatism - Basic Science Oral Highlights Session, 2015
  • Enterprise Birmingham Innovation Competition - 2nd Place, 2015


Highlight publications

Croft, AP, Campos, J, Jansen, K, Turner, JD, Marshall, J, Attar, M, Savary, L, Wehmeyer, C, Naylor, AJ, Kemble, S, Begum, J, Dürholz, K, Perlman, H, Barone, F, Mcgettrick, HM, Fearon, DT, Wei, K, Raychaudhuri, S, Korsunsky, I, Brenner, MB, Coles, M, Sansom, SN, Filer, A & Buckley, CD 2019, 'Distinct fibroblast subsets drive inflammation and damage in arthritis', Nature, vol. 570, no. 7760, pp. 246–251 . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1263-7

Filer, A, Ward, LSC, Kemble, S, Davies, C, Munir, H, Rogers, R, Raza, K, Buckley, C, Nash, G & McGettrick, H 2017, 'Identification of a transitional fibroblast functional phenotype in very early rheumatoid arthritis', Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, vol. 76, no. 12, pp. 2105-2112. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2017-211286

Rainger, E, Chimen, M, McGettrick, H, Kuravi, S, Apta, B, Yates, C, Kennedy, A, Odedra, A, Harrison, M, Martin, A, Barone, F, Nayar, S, Hitchcock, J, Cunningham, A, Raza, K, Filer, A, Copland, DA, Dick, A, Robinson, J, Kalia, N, Walker, L, Buckley, C, Nash, G, Narendran, P & Alassiri, M 2015, 'Homeostatic regulation of T cell trafficking by a B cell derived peptide is impaired in autoimmune and chronic inflammatory disease', Nature Medicine, vol. 21, no. 5, 3842, pp. 467-475. https://doi.org/10.1038/nm.3842

Sheriff, L, Alanazi, A, Ward, LSC, Ward, C, Munir, H, Rayes, J, Alassiri, M, Watson, SP, Newsome, PN, Rainger, GE, Kalia, N, Frampton, J, Mcgettrick, HM & Nash, GB 2018, 'Origin-specific adhesive interactions of mesenchymal stem cells with platelets influence their behavior after infusion', Stem Cells, vol. 36, no. 7. https://doi.org/10.1002/stem.2811

Recent publications


Saviano, A, Schettino, A, Iaccarino, N, Abo Mansour, A, Begum, J, Marigliano, N, Raucci, F, Romano, F, Riccardi, G, Mitidieri, E, d'Emmanuele di Villa Bianca, R, Bello, I, Panza, E, Smimmo, M, Vellecco, V, Rimmer, P, Cheesbrough, J, Zhi, Z, Iqbal, TH, Pieretti, S, D'Amore, VM, Marinelli, L, La Pietra, V, Sorrentino, R, Costa, L, Caso, F, Scarpa, R, Cirino, G, Randazzo, A, Bucci, M, McGettrick, HM, Iqbal, AJ & Maione, F 2024, 'A reverse translational approach reveals the protective roles of Mangifera indica in inflammatory bowel disease', Journal of Autoimmunity, vol. 144, 103181. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaut.2024.103181

Abudu, O, Nguyen, D, Millward, I, Manning, JE, Wahid, M, Lightfoot, A, Marcon, F, Merard, R, Margielewska-Davies, S, Roberts, K, Brown, R, Powell-Brett, S, Nicol, SM, Zayou, F, Croft, WD, Pearce, H, Moss, P, Iqbal, AJ & McGettrick, HM 2024, 'Interplay in galectin expression predicts patient outcomes in a spatially restricted manner in PDAC', Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, vol. 172, 116283. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2024.116283

Frost, K, Lewis, JW, Jones, SW, Edwards, JR, Naylor, AJ & McGettrick, HM 2024, 'The Species Effect: Differential Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Responses in the Bone in Human Versus Mouse', International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 25, no. 10, 5118. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms25105118

Lewis, JW, Frost, K, Neag, G, Wahid, M, Finlay, M, Northall, E, Abudu, O, Davis, E, Powell, E, Palmer, C, Lu, J, Rainger, E, Iqbal, A, Chimen, M, Mahmood, A, Jones, S, Edwards, J, Naylor, A & McGettrick, H 2024, 'Therapeutic avenues in bone repair: Harnessing an anabolic osteopeptide, PEPITEM, to boost bone growth and prevent bone loss', Cell Reports Medicine, vol. 5, no. 5, 101574. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2024.101574

Hopkin, SJ, Pezhman, L, Begum, J, Kavanagh, D, McGettrick, HM, Iqbal, AJ & Chimen, M 2023, 'Aging modulates homeostatic leukocyte trafficking to the peritoneal cavity in a sex-specific manner', Journal of Leukocyte Biology, pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1093/jleuko/qiad053

Baruah, P, Marshall, J, Jones, PN, Major, T, Pucino, V, O'Neil, JD, Nefla, M, McGettrick, H, Monksfield, P, Irving, R & Buckley, CD 2023, 'Fibroblasts Derived From Vestibular Schwannoma Express Protumorogenic Markers', Otology & Neurotology. https://doi.org/10.1097/MAO.0000000000004011

Saviano, A, Manosour, AA, Raucci, F, Merlino, F, Marigliano, N, Schettino, A, Wahid, M, Begum, J, Filer, A, Manning, JE, Casillo, GM, Piccolo, M, Ferraro, MG, Marzano, S, Russomanno, P, Bellavita, R, Irace, C, Amato, J, Alfaifi, M, Rimmer, P, Iqbal, T, Pieretti, S, Vellecco, V, Caso, F, Costa, L, Giacomelli, R, Scarpa, R, Cirino, G, Bucci, M, McGettrick, HM, Grieco, P, Iqbal, AJ & Maione, F 2023, 'New biologic (Ab-IPL-IL-17) for IL-17-mediated diseases: identification of the bioactive sequence (nIL-17) for IL-17A/F function', Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, vol. 82, no. 11, pp. 1415-1428. https://doi.org/10.1136/ard-2023-224479

Pezhman, L, Hopkin, S, Begum, J, Heising, S, Nasteska, D, Wahid, M, Rainger, E, Hodson, D, Iqbal, AJ, Chimen, M & McGettrick, H 2023, 'PEPITEM modulates leukocyte trafficking to reduce obesity-induced inflammation', Clinical & Experimental Immunology. https://doi.org/10.1093/cei/uxad022

Krautter, F, Hussain, MT, Zhi, Z, Lezama, DR, Manning, JE, Brown, E, Marigliano, N, Raucci, F, Recio, C, Chimen, M, Maione, F, Tiwari, A, Mcgettrick, HM, Cooper, D, Fisher, EA & Iqbal, AJ 2022, 'Galectin-9: a novel promoter of atherosclerosis progression', Atherosclerosis, vol. 363, pp. 57-68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2022.11.014

Nayar, S, Pontarini, E, Campos, J, Berardicurti, O, Smith, CG, Asam, S, Gardner, DH, Colafrancesco, S, Lucchesi, D, Coleby, R, Chung, M-M, Iannizzotto, V, Hunter, K, Bowman, SJ, Carlesso, G, Herbst, R, McGettrick, HM, Browning, J, Buckley, CD, Fisher, BA, Bombardieri, M & Barone, F 2022, 'Immunofibroblasts regulate LTα3 expression in tertiary lymphoid structures in a pathway dependent on ICOS/ICOSL interaction', Communications Biology, vol. 5, no. 1, 413. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-03344-6


Begum, J, Weaver, SRC, Iqbal, AJ, Rainger, GE & McGettrick, HM 2022, Cell migration in cardiovascular diseases. in M Schnoor, L-M Yin & S Sun (eds), Cell Movement in Health and Disease. 1st edn, Academic Press (Elsevier), pp. 159-175. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-323-90195-6.00008-5

Review article

Chidomere, CI, Wahid, M, Kemble, S, Chadwick, C, Thomas, R, Hardy, RS, Mcgettrick, HM & Naylor, AJ 2023, 'Bench to Bedside: Modelling Inflammatory Arthritis', Discovery Immunology, vol. 2, no. 1, kyac010. https://doi.org/10.1093/discim/kyac010

Frost, K, Naylor, AJ & McGettrick, HM 2023, 'The Ying and Yang of Sphingosine-1-Phosphate Signalling within the Bone', International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 24, no. 8, 6935. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24086935

Weaver, S, Rendeiro, C, Lucas, B, Cable, N, Nightingale, TE, McGettrick, H & Lucas, S 2022, 'Non-pharmacological interventions for vascular health and the role of the endothelium', European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 122, no. 12, pp. 2493–2514. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-022-05041-y

Lewis, J, Edwards, J, Naylor, A & McGettrick, H 2021, 'Adiponectin signalling in bone homeostasis, with age and in disease', Bone Research, vol. 9, 1. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41413-020-00122-0

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