Dr Rowan Hardy BMedSc, PgC, PhD

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 Ageing 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


Hardy R.S, Fenton C, Croft A.P, Naylor A.J, Begum R, Desanti G, Buckley C.D, Lavery G, Cooper M.S and Raza K (2018) 11 Beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 regulates synovitis, joint destruction, and systemic bone loss in chronic polyarthritis Journal of autoimmunity, Aug;92:104-113

Hardy R.S, Zhou H, Seibei M.J and Cooper M.S (2018) Glucocorticoids and bone: consequences of endogenous and exogenous excess and replacement therapy. Endocrine reviews Oct 1;39(5):519-548

Naylor A.J, Desanti G, Saghir A.N and Hardy R.S (2018) TNFα depleting therapy improves fertility and animal welfare in TNFα-driven transgenic models of polyarthritis when administered in their routine breeding. Laboratory animals Feb;52(1):59-68

Rokad F, Moseley R, Hardy R.S, Chukkapalli S, Crean S, Kesavalu L and Singhrao S.K (2017) Cerebral Oxidative Stress and Microvasculature Defects in TNF-α Expressing Transgenic and Porphyromonas gingivalis-Infected ApoE-/- Mice. Journal of Alzheimer's disease, 60(2):359-369

Hardy R.S, Doig C.L, Hussain Z, O’Leary M, Morgan S.A, Pearson M.J, Naylor A, Jones S.W, Filer A, Stewart P.M, Buckley C.D, Lavery G.G, Cooper M.S and Raza K (2016) 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 within muscle protects against the adverse effects of local inflammation. The Journal of pathology, Dec;240(4):472-483

Juarez M, McGettrick H.M, Scheel-Toellner D, Yeo L, Spengler J, de Paz B, Hardy R.S, Cooper M, Raza K, Buckley C.D and Filer A (2016) DKK1 expression by synovial fibroblasts in very early rheumatoid arthritis associates with lymphocyte adhesion in an in vitro flow co-culture system. Arthritis research & therapy, 18:14

Nanus D.E, Filer A.D, Yeo L, Scheel-Toellner D, Hardy R.S, Lavery G.G, Stewart P.M, Buckley C.D, Tomlinson J.W, Cooper M.S and Raza K (2015) Differential glucocorticoid metabolism in patients with persistent versus resolving inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis research & therapy, May 14;17:121

Hardy R.S, Raza K and Cooper M.S (2014) Glucocorticoid metabolism in rheumatoid arthritis. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, May;1318:18-26

Hardy R.S, Seibel M.J and Cooper M.S (2013) Targeting 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases: a novel approach to manipulating local glucocorticoid levels with implications for rheumatic disease. Current opinion in pharmacology, Jun;13(3):440-4

Hardy R.S, Hulso C, Lui Y, Gasparini S.J, Fong-Yee C, Tu J, Stoner S, Stewart P.M, Raza K, Cooper M.S, Seibel M.J and Zhou H(2013) Characterisation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes from a murine model of joint inflammation. Arthritis research & therapy, 15(1): R24.

For a full list of Dr R.S Hardy's publications

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