Dr Helen McGettrick PhD, MSc, BSc, FHEA

Image of Helen McGettrick

Institute of Inflammation and Ageing
Senior Lecturer in Inflammation Biology
Director of the International Doctoral Training Programme: PhD with Integrated Study in Life Sciences

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




Widening Participation

  • Academic Lead                       Access to Birmingham – Biomedical Sciences         
  • Academic Lead                       Realising Opportunities – Biomedical Sciences       
  • Assignment Tutor                   Access to Birmingham – Biomedical Sciences         
  • Assignment Tutor                   Realising Opportunities – Biomedical Sciences       
  • Assignment Tutor                   Realising Opportunities – Medicine                           

Previous undergraduate research projects

  • 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:

Investigating the impact of pathogenic stroma on lymphocyte behaviour in chronic inflammation
MSC as endogenous regulators of inflammation: Changes in chronic inflammation

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


Recent 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

Hopkin, S, Lewis, J, Krautter, F, Chimen, M & McGettrick, H 2019, 'Triggering the resolution of immune mediated inflammatory diseases: can targeting leukocyte migration be the answer?' Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 10, 184. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.00184

Ward, LSC, Sheriff, L, Marshall, JL, Manning, JE, Brill, A, Nash, GB & McGettrick, HM 2019, 'Podoplanin regulates the migration of mesenchymal stromal cells and their interaction with platelets.' Journal of Cell Science, vol. 132, no. 5, jcs222067. https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.222067

Alanazi, A, Munir, H, Alassiri, M, Ward, LSC, McGettrick, H & Nash, G 2019, 'Comparative adhesive and migratory properties of mesenchymal stem cells from different tissues' Biorheology, pp. 1-16. https://doi.org/10.3233/BIR-180185

De Winde, CM, Matthews, AL, Van Deventer, S, Van Der Schaaf, A, Tomlinson, ND, Jansen, E, Eble, JA, Nieswandt, B, Mcgettrick, HM, Figdor, CG, Tomlinson, MG, Acton, SE & Van Spriel, AB 2018, 'C-type lectin-like receptor 2 (CLEC-2)-dependent DC migration is controlled by tetraspanin CD37' Journal of Cell Science. https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.214551

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. https://doi.org/10.1002/stem.2811

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 Rheumatic Diseases, vol. 76, no. 12, pp. 2105-2112. https://doi.org/10.1136/annrheumdis-2017-211286

Munir, H, Clarke, L, Sheriff, L, Kemble, S, Nayar, S, Barone, F, Nash, G & McGettrick, H 2017, 'Adipogenic differentiation of MSC alters their immunomodulatory properties in a tissue-specific manner' Stem Cells, vol. 35, no. 6, pp. 1636–1646. https://doi.org/10.1002/stem.2622

Chimen, M, Yates, C, McGettrick, H, Ward, LSC, Harrison, M, Apta, B, Dib, L, Imhof, BA, Harrison, P, Nash, G & Rainger, G 2017, 'Monocyte subsets coregulate inflammatory responses by integrated signaling through TNF and IL-6 at the endothelial cell interface.' Journal of Immunology, vol. 198, no. 7, pp. 2834-2843. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1601281

Apta, BHR, Chimen, M & Mcgettrick, HM 2017, 'Endocrine Regulation of Lymphocyte Trafficking In Vitro' Methods in molecular biology, vol. 1591, pp. 101-119. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-6931-9_8

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Chimen, M, Apta, B & McGettrick, H 2017, Introduction: T cell trafficking in inflammation and immunity. in T-Cell Trafficking: Methods and Protocols. vol. 1591, Methods in Molecular Biology (MIMB), Springer, pp. 73-84. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-6931-9_6


Munir, H, Ward, LSC & McGettrick, HM 2018, Mesenchymal stem cells as endogenous regulators of inflammation. in Stromal Immunology. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol. 1060, Springer, pp. 73-98. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-78127-3_5


McGettrick, H 2019, 'Synovial tissue biopsy analysis: unlocking the hidden secrets to personalised medicine?' Arthritis Research & Therapy, vol. 21, 90. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13075-019-1871-5

Other contribution

Martin, C, Ni Chosgora, A, Chimen, M & McGettrick, H 2018, Go with the flow: Studying regulation of inflammatory T cell recruitment..

Review article

Buckley, C & McGettrick, H 2018, 'Leukocyte trafficking between stromal compartments: lessons from rheumatoid arthritis' Nature Reviews Rheumatology, vol. 14, no. 8, pp. 476-487. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41584-018-0042-4

View all publications in research portal