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Professor Emma Kidd

Professor Emma Kidd

+44 (0)29 2087 5803
2.57B, Redwood Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


I have always been interested in the brain and the diseases which affect it and have worked previously on identifying novel targets and potential drugs for the treatment of anxiety and depression. I now work on Alzheimer’s disease to understand how various risk factors affect its development including aging, biological sex and having depression. I am also interested in the treatment both of Alzheimer’s disease and various other conditions associated with it. Most recently, I have started work on understanding how the menopause affects longevity, looking at the incidence and development of dementia, cardiovascular disease, cancer and psychiatric conditions using large databases.

By training, I am a neuropharmacologist bridging the gap between in vivo pharmacology and molecular and cell biology with a strong translational approach towards the discovery and development of novel therapeutics for a variety of diseases.


Career profile

I graduated with a degree in Pharmacology from the University of Bath in 1987 and then went to the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Nottingham University to do a Ph.D. on the "Functional Adaptation of 5-HT Receptors" under the supervision of Prof. Charles Marsden, funded by a BBSRC CASE award with Janssen Pharmaceutica. Having graduated from Nottingham in 1990, I went to Paris to work for two years as a postdoctoral research associate in Dr Michel Hamon's INSERM-funded laboratory. In 1992 I returned to the U.K. to work as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and subsequently as a Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate for Prof. Pat Humphrey in the Glaxo Institute for Applied Pharmacology in the Department of Pharmacology at Cambridge University. In 1999, I joined the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University as a lecturer and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2009, to Reader in 2013 and to Professor in 2021. In addition to my teaching and research responsibilities, I am the Director of the GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP.


  • BSc in Pharmacology, University of Bath, 1987
  • PhD in Neuropharmacology, University of Nottingham, 1990

Scientific and professional service

Director of the GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP with strategic oversight and overall responsibility for the DTP, accountable to Cardiff as the Funding Award holder for the delivery of the DTP and represents the interests of the DTP stakeholders.

Honours and awards

  • Awarded Fellowship of the British Pharmacological Society (2021)
  • Jointly awarded the Student Union’s Enriching Student Life Award for Personal Tutor of the Year (2020)
  • Jointly awarded the Student Union’s overall Enriching Student Life Award (2020)

Professional memberships

Academic positions

    Previous appointments

    • Reader in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2013 – 2021
    • Senior Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2009-2013
    • Lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 1999 – 2009
    • Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Cambridge, 1997–1999
    • Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Cambridge, 1992–1997
    • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, INSERM Unité 288, Paris, 1990–1992

    Speaking engagements

    • June 2022                HCARE PGR Symposium, Cardiff, U.K
    • July 2020                 Invited to discuss PGR careers at the Virtual ARUK Network Seminar, Cardiff, U.K.
    • November 2018       Invited talk at the Hodge Annual Meeting, Cardiff, U.K.
    • November 2018       Invited talk to the PhysPharm Society, Bristol, U.K.
    • March 2017              Invited talk at the CITER Workshop on Ageing, Cardiff, U.K.
    • June 2016                Invited talk at the BRACE Annual Celebration, Bristol, U.K.
    • September 2013      Invited talk at the 12th International Symposium on Neural Transplantation & Restoration, Cardiff, U.K.
    • November 2012       Interview about Alzheimer’s disease by Skype with high school students from the American School Foundation of Guadalajara, Mexico
    • October 2012           Invited talk at the Alzheimer’s Society Wales Conference, All Nations Centre, Cardiff, U.K.
    • September 2012      Invited talk at the Cardiorespiratory Pathophysiology Group Away Day, Cardiff, U.K.
    • April 2012                Invited talk at the Prion Chemical Biology Network meeting on Alzheimer’s disease, Sheffield, UK
    • September 2010      Invited talk at the University of the 3rd Age (U3A), Porthcawl, U.K.
    • September 2010      Invited talk and workshop at the Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference, University of Warwick, Warwick, U.K.
    • January 2010           Invited talk at the School of Pharmacy, University of Reading, Reading, U.K.
    • July 2009                 Invited to talk about my research to Alzheimer’s Society potential donors, London, U.K.
    • July 2008                 Invited talk at the Annual Open Meeting of the Neath and Port Talbot branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, Neath, U.K.
    • December 2006       Interviews on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Wales, ITV Wales and Swansea Bay Radio. The research was highlighted on the University’s and the BBC’s website and also appeared on a number of other websites. It was covered in The Western Mail, The Sun, The Big Issue Cymru and Cardiff University News and an article appeared in Advances Wales

    Committees and reviewing

    Grant Review Board membership

    • Member of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Grant Board, July 2019 - January 2026

    Peer review for journals

    • African Journal of Biotechnology
    • Autonomic and Autocoid Pharmacology
    • Biochemical Pharmacology
    • British Journal of Pharmacology
    • Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
    • Experimental Lung Research
    • Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
    • Journal of Comparative Neurology
    • Journal of Immunological Methods
    • Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine
    • Neuropharmacology
    • PLoS ONE
    • Pharmacy
    • Phytomedicine
    • SynapsePeer review for funding bodies

    Peer review for grant funders

    • L'Agence Nationale de la Recherche (France)
    • Alzheimer’s Research UK
    • Alzheimer’s Society
    • Bristol Research into Alzheimer’s and Care of the Elderly (BRACE)
    • Children and Young People’s Research Network
    • Foundation for Alzheimer Research (SAO-FRA, Belgium)
    • Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Portugal)
    • Medical Research Council
    • Wellcome

    Refereeing for conferences

    • Referee for abstracts for the British Pharmacology Society Winter Meetings
    • Referee for abstracts for the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference Meetings in July


































    Current teaching responsibilities

    I currently teach students on the four year undergraduate Master of Pharmacy degree. My teaching covers all 4 years of the degree course and I deliver lectures and workshops and provide online materials including videos and directed reading.

    Teaching topics: 

    • Physiology, pharmacology and therapeutics of the endocrine system
    • Dementia types, causes, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment
    • Physiology and treatment of different types of nausea and vomiting
    • Supervision of final year undergraduate student projects in my research areas of interest
    • Support carers and patients to provide the lived patient or carer view on palliative care and end of life and organ transpantation.
    • Communication skills workshops


    • MCQs, short answer and case study exam questions
    • Communication skills via OSCEs
    • Project posters and reports

    Current teaching-related responsibilities

    • Member of the Undergraduate Board of Studies
    • Member of the Extenuating Circumstances group
    • Personal tutor for undergraduate students

    Current School-related responsibilities

    • Chair of the Undergraduate Board of Examiners since January 2016

    Research interests

    I am interested in understanding how Alzheimer's disease develops and how it could be treated. Research in my laboratory is mainly concentrated on cellular and molecular pharmacology to understand more about the mechanisms underlying several risk factors including age, biological sex and depression and how they influence disease processes. The ultimate aim is to improve or develop new therapies for this disease. We use a variety of human cell lines, animal models and human brain tissue and biochemical and molecular biological techniques to investigate cell function.

    I am also interested in how conditions associated with Alzheimer's disease are managed in care homes and the community. In particular, I am interested in depression and the use of antidepressants and antipsychotics to treat several of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. We are aiming to understand the management of these conditions by looking at databases of electronic medication management records and medical history to improve ultimately patient treatment and thus quality of life.

    Most recently, based on my interest in how biological sex influences the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, I have started working on how the menopause affects longevity using several databases to consider the duration of oestrogen exposure in women and the diseases they develop later in life. 

    Current Projects

    • Ageing, biological sex, depression and Alzheimer's disease
    • Management of depression in patients with Alzheimer's disease
    • Menopause and longevity
    • Novel therapies and Alzheimer's disease

    Understanding the contribution of ageing and gender to Alzheimer's disease

    The main risk factor for Alzheimer's disease is increasing age but we still do not understand how ageing leads to the disease. In addition, women make up about 65% of people with the disease. Previously we have looked at how changes in endocytosis contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease in ageing and women. We have also investigated changes in oestrogen receptor signalling and mitochondrial function. Oestrogen is neuroprotective in the brain and the marked decline seen after the menopause in women could explain the increased risk for women. We have investigated this using human brain samples from young, middle-aged and older people and comparing these results to those from people with Alzheimer's disease. I am now interested in measuring steroid levels in our brain samples to understand how the levels of reproductive hormones, their precursors and derivatives are affected by ageing, biological sex and disease status.

    Understanding how depression is managed in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease

    Depression is very common in patients with Alzheimer's disease. It is difficult to treat as the most commonly used drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors including Prozac don't work at all well in these patients. There are suggestions that inflammation pays a role in depression associated with Alzheimer’s disease, so we are investigating how microglial and astrocytic proteins are affected by by ageing, biological sex and disease status including the presence or absence of depression. We are also interested in developing models to understand how to improve therapy including investigating a range of potential treatments.

    In a separate project, we are examining how patients with and without dementia and/or depression in residential care homes are treated to understand the issues around effective treatments and how to help healthcare professionals manage this condition to improve the quality of life for these patients. This involves using an electronic medication administration record database to consider the demographics of the residents with an emphasis on age, biological sex and treatment with psychoactive drugs. We will then compare the treatment of dementia patients with those without dementia.

    Understanding how exposure to oestrogen and the menopause impact on longevity

    Most recently, based on my interest in how biological sex influences the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, I have initiated a project in collaboration with Health and Her, a healthcare company which provides support for menopausal women in the form of products (including own-brand supplements), private medical consultations through their telehealth clinic, digital resources (including an online symptom tool and a mobile app), and advice curated from a list of verified experts (including GPs, psychologists, and exercise practitioners). Our project will examine how factors influencing life-time oestrogen exposure culminating in the menopause affect longevity, focusing in particular on the links between the menopause and the subsequent development of diseases in later life including dementia, psychiatric diseases, cardiovascular conditions and several cancers.

    This project will use the SAIL (Secure Anonymised Information Linkage) databank, the UK Biobank, the Dementias Platform UK and medical, demographic and menopause-specific (i.e., menstrual cycles, symptoms, symptom triggers, menopausal status etc.) data collected using the Health and Her app information from over 135,000 women.

    Novel therapeutic antibodies for Alzheimer's disease

    Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition with very limited treatment and no cure. The incidence of this disease is rising worldwide as the population ages, as are the associated socioeconomic costs. There is therefore much interest in developing novel therapies. We proposed a 'blue skies' approach to devise an antibody-based therapy which would potentially halt the disease process and possibly also be used as a preventative treatment in high risk individuals. This approach differs to many others under investigation by other groups and companies worldwide and could be used in combination with other therapies to treat this debilitating and distressing disease. We are now using the antibody to understand more about how the disease develops including looking at the role of the immune system.


    Research associates

    • Dr Robin Andrews, funded by the Waterloo Foundation

    School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

    • Dr Mathew Smith, Clinical Pharmacy
    • Dr Emma Lane, Pharmacology & Physiology
    • Dr Julia Gee, Pharmacology & Physiology
    • Dr Will Ford, Pharmacology & Physiology
    • Prof Arwyn Jones, Pharmaceutical Biology

    Cardiff University

    • Prof Mark Good, School of Psychology
    • Prof Dominic Dwyer, School of Psychology
    • Dr Wioleta Zelek, School of Medicine
    • Prof Paul Morgan, School of Medicine
    • Dr Mariah Lelos, School of Bioscience

    External collaborators

    • Ms Kate Bache, Health and Her
    • Dr Arron Lacey, Swansea University

    Key expertise

    • Work with human brain samples
    • Western blotting
    • Immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry with bright field and fluorescent microscopy including laser scanning confocal microscopy
    • ELISA
    • Cell culture techniques
    • RT-PCR
    • siRNA


    I am interested in supervising students in the areas of:

    • The role of age and biological sex on the development of Alzheimer's disease
    • Management of depression and anti-psychotic use in patients with Alzheimer's disease
    • The influence of oestrogen exposure and the menopause on longevity

    Past projects

    Current research students

    • Ebtehal Altowairqi, ‘The Inter-Relationship Between Inflammation, Depression And Alzheimer’s Disease In The Human Brain’, funded by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education.
    • Ben Exley, ‘Recognition Memory Deficits in Alzheimer's Disease: A role for MiR-219’, co-supervision with Prof. Clea Warburton at Bristol University, funded by the Alzheimer's Society.
    • Talal Alotaibi, ‘A clinical exploration of the link between Alzheimer’s disease and depression in residential care home residents’, funded by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education.

    Previous research students

    • Dr Jill Clark, ‘The effects of adenosine on human breast cancer cells’ (awarded 2004)
    • Dr Sofia Fernandez-Rodriguez, ‘Cell signalling pathways in the airways inflammatory responses in asthma’ (awarded 2006)
    • Dr Mahmood Al-Qallaf, ‘Characterization of P2X7 receptors in human osteoblasts and modulation by oestrogen’ (awarded 2008)
    • Dr Martina Fehler, ‘Characterisation of trace amine receptors in the rat cardiovascular system’ (awarded 2008)
    • Dr Peter Penson, ‘ß-Adrenoceptor subtypes and transduction pathways involved in myocardial pre- and post-conditioning (awarded 2009)
    • Dr Rhys Evans, ‘Chronic airways inflammation models induced by repeated antigen: airways function and sensitivity to anti-inflammatory agents’, (awarded 2010)
    • Dr Dawn Turner, ‘Mechanisms of action of nitric oxide donating compounds in models of asthma’ (awarded 2010)
    • Dr Gaudencio Natividad, ‘Isolation and chemical and pharmacological characterization of potential trace amine receptor antagonists from plant sources’ (awarded 2011)
    • Dr Alex Henson, ‘Investigation of the role of adenosine in the growth of human breast cancer cells’ (awarded 2011)
    • Dr Martha Hvoslef-Eide, ‘Characterising transgenic APP mutation mouse models of amyloid pathology for use in preclinical immunotherapy’ (awarded 2013)
    • Dr Alex Lowe, ‘The role of viral and bacterial infections in asthma exacerbations and corticosteroid resistance’ (awarded 2013)
    • Dr Ceri Davies, ‘In vivo examination of viral exacerbations of airways inflammation, function, mucus hypersecretion and mucociliary clearance’ (awarded 2014)
    • Dr Zakky Cholisoh, ‘Mechanisms of resistance to steroid actions in the airways’ (awarded 2014)
    • Dr Charles Evans, ‘Development and characterisation of an anti-amyloid precursor protein antibody in vivo as a potential therapy for Alzheimer’s disease’ (awarded 2017)
    • Dr Shayda Maleki-Toyserkani, ‘ Eicosanoid response to infection in sepsis’ (awarded 2019)
    • Dr Adam Brelsford, ‘Depression and dementia: The effect of Aβ pathology and therapeutic interventions on affective and cognitive processes in mice’ (awarded 2020)
    • Dr Thomas Freeman, ‘Elucidating the role of amyloid precursor protein in normal memory’ (awarded 2020)
    • Dr Jawza Almutiari, ‘Understanding how age and gender influence the development of Alzheimer’s disease’ (awarded 2022)