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Dr William Ford  -  PhD


Member of the School's Pharmacology & Physiology Research Discipline


Research Interests


Cannabinoids as medicine

Cannabinoids in the cardiovascular system
The body is capable of making and releasing compounds (endocannabinoids) similar to those found in extracts of Cannabis sativa. We are interested in identifying the receptors that link these endocannabinoids to cardiovascular response. Our work has identified cardiovascular responses that appear to be mediated by one or more novel sites of action. As we and others have shown that endocannabinoids mediate important cardiovascular responses ,such as protection from ischaemia-reperfusion injury, these novel sites of action represent potential therapeutic targets.


Cannabinoids in the gastro-intestinal tract
Observations of cannabis users suggest that endocannabinoids might have a beneficial role to play in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We are currently investigating the potential exploitation of the endocannabinoid system for the treatment of IBD in collaboration with an industrial partner.


Pulmonary inflammation
Dysregulated pulmonary inflammation underlies human lung disease such as asthma and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD). We have models of ovalbumin-induced guinea-pig and murine pulmonary inflammation. In both of these models early and late phase bronchoconstriction to inhaled allergen can be observed. In the guinea-pig, we have also generated a model of pulmonary inflammation to PIV-3 and influenza viral infection as well as virally-induced exacerbation of allergic (ovalbumin-induced) asthma. In addition to further characterization of these models, we are interested in the effects of endocannabinoids, bradykinin and trace amines on pulmonary function and inflammation. See also:

Studies on the exacerbation of pulmonary inflammation by viral infection


β-adrenoceptor stimulation and myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury.
Adrenaline has been given for many years to try to resuscitate asystolic patients. The pharmacological justification for such an intervention is weak. However, we have been investigating the potential that activation of one or more β-adrenoceptors can protect the heart from ischaemia-reperfusion injury. Potentially, this research might lead to a treatment for myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury.



  • Collaboration with Dr Joachim Bugert in the Medical Microbiology Department of the Medical School on viral infection of the airways. We are particularly interested in influenza and para-influenza-3 virus infection and the mechanisms of lung inflammation and its effects on lung function.
  • Dr Tony Nials, GlaxoSmithKline who has co-supervised 4 PhD students with Prof Broadley supported by the company over the past 10 years.
  • We are in the final stages of submitting a proposal with Dr Audrey Long, a consultant gynaecologist with Cardiff and Vale NHS trust to study the role of endocannabinoids in pregnancy-induced changes to the circulation.
  • I have established collaborations with Prof Broadley and Dr Kidd (pulmonary and cardiovascular research). I am also developing collaborative projects with Prof Baxter (cardiovascular research), who has recently joined the School, and Dr Mark Gumbleton (gastrointestinal research)


Post doc: Dr M Akhtar Anwar


Key Expertise

  • Langendorff heart perfusion
  • Isolated cardiac tissue function
  • In vivo study of the cardiovascular system
  • Plethysmographical measurement of pulmonary function


Research Funding

  • Collaborative BBSRC Studentships with GlaxoSmithKline (2006-9) to study the pulmonary effects of chronic ovalbumin sensitization.
  • British Heart Foundation studentship (2004-8) to study the role of β-adrenoceptor subtypes in severity of myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury and a project grant (2002-5) to investigate the potential that endocannabinoids might reduce myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury.
  • Contract research for Ferring research Ltd investigating novel anti-inflammatory compounds on airway inflammation.
  • Industrial-sponsored studentships with Topigen (2006-9) to investigate the effects of nitric-oxide donating compounds on airway inflammation and Norgine (2008-2011) to study the potential role of endocannabinoids in inflammatory bowel disease.