Dr Rowan Hardy BMedSc, PgC, PhD

Dr Rowan Hardy

Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research
ARUK Career Development Fellow

Contact details

Room 233, 2nd floor IBR
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Hardy is an early career scientist specialising in steroid metabolism, with extensive experience in inflammatory animal models. Having recently received a prestigious Career Development Fellowship he is now establishing a research group focussing on the roles of glucocorticoid signalling in inflammatory disease.

Patients with RA develop complications such as muscle wasting and bone loss, which contribute to an increased risk of fractures, disability and reduced life expectancy. Dr Hardy’s primary focus is exploring the roles of pre-receptor glucocorticoid metabolism in mediating these detrimental features of chronic inflammatory disease and examining a role for therapeutic agents that modify glucocorticoid signalling in their management.

The inter-disciplinary collaboration linking the Institute of Metabolism & Systems Research and the Institute of Inflammation & Ageing that Dr Hardy has established ensure a fully translational approach to this research, with access to state of the art cell culture, molecular biology and animal husbandry facilities.


  • PhD in Medicine, University of Birmingham, 2008,
  • PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Birmingham, 2011
  • BMedSc (Hons) Medical Science, University of Birmingham,  2004           
  • Membership of the Society for Endocrinology
  • Membership of the American Endocrine Society
  • Membership of the British Rheumatology Society


During my PhD at the University of Birmingham, I explored the mesenchymal expression and inflammatory regulation of the glucocorticoid activating enzyme 11b-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11b-HSD1) in chronic inflammatory disease. I continued to explore mechanisms of inflammatory regulation of 11b-HSD1 and its functional consequences in chronic inflammatory arthritis through my early post-doctoral career in Professors Buckley’s laboratory and during an ARUK travelling Fellowship taking me to the ANZAC research Institute laboratory in Sydney under Professor Seibel.

Using animal models of inflammatory arthritis, I explored the role of 11b-HSD1 in driving anti-anabolic Wnt signalling within the joint environment, identifying that glucocorticoids potently up-regulate expression of Wnt inhibitors such as DKK-1 and FrZb. During this period, I received training in the handling and clinical scoring of animal models of inflammatory arthritis, and received further training at the Kolling Institute of Medical Research in methods for the characterisation and culture of murine osteoblasts and synovial fibroblasts.

Upon completing my travelling Fellowship I returned to work under Professor Paul Stewart and Professor Karim Raza at the University of Birmingham, exploring the roles of glucocorticoid mediated muscle wasting in inflammation before successfully applying for a ARUK Career Development award investigating the role of glucocorticoid metabolism and wnt signalling in the local articular and systemic complications of  chronic inflammatory disease.

My current work takes full advantage of the interdisciplinary collaborations that I have established between the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research and the Institute of Aging and Inflammation,  as well as international collaborations with leaders in the field such as Professor Georg Schett and Professor Mark Cooper.


  • Delivers lectures and small group teaching to 2nd-3rd year BMedSci students
  • Supervisor to ANZAC Masters Technician. September 2011 – June 2012 
  • Supervisor for eight undergraduate Medical Science research projects. January 2006-2016
  • Society for Endocrinology public engagement grant teaching A-level students. January - June 2014
  • Joint module coordinator for the postgraduate Masters in Endocrinology. September 2009-Sept 2010

Postgraduate supervision

  • MRC PhD Supervisor 2016-present
  • ANZAC Masters Student Supervisor, 2011-2012
  • ANZAC technician Supervisor, 2011-2012


Rowan’s research examines the mechanisms of endogenous and therapeutic glucocorticoid action in chronic inflammatory disease, with the aim of identifying novel therapeutic approaches in their management.

Other activities


  • Coordinator of the Hormones and Inflammation IMSR seminar series. 2015-present
  • Regular invited reviewer for Endocrine connections, Stem Cell Research & Therapy, BMC Endocrine Disorders, Pharmacological Research, International Immunology, Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal diseases, Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and the Oxford Journal of Rheumatology


  • (STEM) Ambassador Programme at the University of Birmingham, 2014-2015
  • CEDAM Journal club coordinator, 2013-2014


Selected recent publications:

Research Articles

Hardy RS, Hussain Z, Doig C, Morgan S, Pearson MJ, Naylor A, Jones SW, Filer A, ,Stewart PM, Buckley CD, Lavery GG, Cooper MS, Raza K, 11beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase within Muscle Protects Against the Adverse Effects of Local Inflammation, J Path, 2016, In review.

 Juarez M, McGettrick HM, Scheel-Toellner D, Yeo L, Spengler J, de Paz B, Hardy RS, Cooper M, Raza K, Buckley CD, Filer A. DKK1 expression by synovial fibroblasts in very early rheumatoid arthritis associates with lymphocyte adhesion in an in vitro flow co-culture system. Arthritis Res Ther. 2016 Jan 19;18(1):14. doi: 10.1186/s13075-016-0915-3. PMID: 267829

 Nanus DE, Filer AD, Yeo L, Scheel-Toellner D, Hardy RS, Lavery G, Stewart PM, Buckley CD, Tomlinson JW, Cooper MS, Raza K. Differential glucocorticoid metabolism in patients with persistent versus resolving inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2015 May. Bone. 2015 Jun 4, [Epub ahead of print]

 Hardy RS, Li A, Stoner S, Tuckermann J, Seibel MJ, Zhou H. Deletion of Mesenchymal Glucocorticoid Receptor Attenuates Embryonic Lung Development and Abdominal Wall Closure. PLoS One. 2013 May 16;8(5):e63578. doi: 10.1371. Joint 1st Authorship. (IF 4.1)

 Hardy RS, Hülso C, Liu Y, Gasparini S, Fong-Yee C, Tu J, Stoner S, Stewart PM, Raza K, Cooper MS, Seibel MJ, Zhou H. Characterisation of Inflammatory Murine Fibroblast-like Synoviocytes. Arthritis Res Ther. 2013 Jan 29;15(1):R24. (IF 4.5)

 Hardy RS, Juarez M, Naylor A, Tu J, Rabbitt EH, Filer A, Stewart PM, Buckley CD, Raza K, Cooper MS. Synovial DKK1 expression is regulated by local glucocorticoid metabolism in inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2012 Oct 18;14(5):R226. (IF 4.5)

 Patel P, Hardy RS, Sumathi V, Kindblom L, Grimer R, Bujalska I, Paul Stewart, Rabbitt E, Gittoes N, Cooper M. Expression of 11-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Enzymes in Human Osteosarcoma: Potential role in pathogenesis and as targets for treatments; Endocr Relat Cancer. 2012 Jul 22;19(4):589-98. (IF 4.7)

 Hardy RS, Ahasan MM, Jones C, Kaur K, Nanus D, Juarez M, Morgan SA, Hassan-Smith Z, Bénézech C, Caamaño JH, Hewison M, Lavery G, Rabbitt EH, Clark AR, Filer A, Buckley CD, Raza K, Stewart PM, Cooper MS.. Inflammatory regulation of glucocorticoid metabolism in mesenchymal stromal cells', Arthritis and Rheumatism 2012 Jan 31. doi: 10.1002/art.34414. Joint 1st Authorship. (IF 7.9)

 Tiganescu A, Walker EA, Hardy RS, Mayes AE, Stewart PM. Localization, age- and site-dependent expression and regulation of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in skin. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2011 Jan;131(1):30-6. Epub 2010 Aug 26. (IF 6.3)

 Hardy RS, Kaur K, Ahasan MM, Eijken M, van Leeuwen JP, Filer A, Thomas AM, Raza K, Buckley CD, Stewart PM, Rabbitt EH, Hewison M, Cooper MS. Synergistic induction of local glucocorticoid generation by inflammatory cytokines and glucocorticoids: implications for inflammation associated bone loss. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 Jun;69(6):1185-90. Joint 1st Authorship. (IF 8.7)

 Hardy RS, Rabbitt EH, Filer A, Emery P, Hewison M, Stewart PM, Gittoes NJ, Buckley CD, Raza K, Cooper MS. Local and systemic glucocorticoid metabolism in inflammatory arthritis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2008 Sep;67(9):1204-10. (IF 8.7)

 Hardy RS, Filer A, Cooper MS, Parsonage G, Raza K, Hardie DL, Rabbitt EH, Stewart PM, Buckley CD, Hewison M. Differential expression, function and response to inflammatory stimuli of 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in human fibroblasts: a mechanism for tissue-specific regulation of inflammation. Arthritis Res Ther. 2006;8(4):R108. (IF 4.5)

 Review Articles

 Hardy RS, Raza K, Cooper MS; Glucocorticoid metabolism and inflammation: crucial interactions; Annals of the New York Academy of Science. Invited review, accepted for publication, 2014 January.

 Hardy RS, Seibel MJ, Cooper MS. Targeting 11-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases: a novel approach to manipulating local glucocorticoid levels with implications for rheumatic disease; Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2013 Mar 26. doi:pii: S1471-4892(13). (IF 6.8)

 Hardy RS, Cooper MS. Endogenous Glucocorticoids in Inflammation: Contributions of Systemic and Local Responses; Swiss Medical Weekly. 2012 Aug 6;142:w13650. (IF 1.9)

Hardy RS, Cooper MS. Glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis –a disorder of mesenchymal stromal cells?, Front. Endocrin, Epub 2011 Jul 8, Front. Endocrin 2(24). (IF 3.6)

 Hardy RS, Cooper M. Adrenal Gland and Bone. 2010 may. Review. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2010 Jun 11. 2010 Nov 1;503(1):137-45. (IF 2.5)