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Disease Mechanisms

Our research aims to develop more effective therapies to treat disease and promote healing throughout the body, thereby benefitting patients.

Our research aims to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating tissue pathology, disease progression and wound repair, in a wide variety of oral, dermal, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal tissues, associated with underlying factors such as:

  • ageing
  • autoimmunity
  • cancer
  • chronic inflammation
  • diabetes
  • infection

By understanding these mechanisms, we aim to develop more effective therapies to treat disease and promote healing throughout the body, thereby benefitting patients.


We have many research projects that support our mission to deliver strong translational knowledge that can be used to improve the treatments available to patients.

Cancer (breast, prostate, head and neck)

One of the major challenges in cancer research is understanding the molecular mechanisms that allow cancer cells to metastasise, evade the immune system, and chemotherapeutic treatments. Our work aims to determine the role of protease enzymes that drive cancer metastasis and recurrence.

Dermal wound healing and scarring

Wounds in the mouth heal extremely well compared to normal skin wounds, as oral mucosal wounds demonstrate minimal inflammation and more rapid healing with reduced scarring. We'd like to understand the mechanisms responsible for these preferential healing responses in oral mucosal fibroblasts, to identify novel pathways to be targeted by newly-developed therapies to help repair and regenerate damaged or diseased tissues.

Similarly, although much is known about the cell biology of scar forming myofibroblast cells, we are also investigating the novel roles that particular genes and proteins have in facilitating myofibroblast formation and scarring.

Non-healing, chronic skin wounds (such as venous and diabetic ulcers), are a significant source of morbidity in ageing societies and a financial burden to healthcare providers. Our research focuses on identifying the mechanisms responsible for impaired cellular wound healing responses in chronic wounds, with the aim to use this information to develop novel therapies to restore healing potential.

Diabetes and bone repair

Clinicians are facing additional challenges for achieving efficient bone repair, due to conditions such as type 2 diabetes and ageing.  Our research aims to understand the pathological mechanisms underlying impaired diabetic bone healing at the cellular, molecular and signalling levels; and to identify opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Host immune mechanisms within tumours and tissue infections

Peripheral blood monocytes are recruited to tumour microenvironments, where their conversion to tumour associated macrophages occurs, either to M1 inflammatory macrophages (anti-tumour) or M2 anti-inflammatory macrophages (tumour growth/metastasis).  As the mechanisms regulating M1 and M2 macrophages formation in tumour environments are not completely understood, our research investigates the mechanisms by which tumour microenvironments induce such events.

Oral microbiota are important not only in oral health, but also in systemic health. Host responses to oral microbiota have been linked to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in humans. We're investigating how innate immune cells and macrophages respond to microbial biofilms and the mechanisms involved, which could be used to aid diagnosis and treatment of oral and systemic diseases.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading cause of community acquired pneumonia, with 20% of cases progressing to bloodstream infections and a high fatality rate.  Our studies are investigating the responses of regulatory T cells towards Streptococcus pneumoniae, with the aim of utilising these findings to develop novel vaccines against Streptococcus pneumoniae-induced pneumonia.

Natural compound development as anti-cancer and wound healing therapeutics

Despite significant advancements in diagnosis and treatment, there's still a significant clinical need for novel therapies, capable of treating primary, therapy-resistant as well as metastatic cancer.  Consequently, we are currently assessing the anti-cancer efficacies and mechanisms of action for a number of novel small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of head and neck cancer.

Similarly, existing therapies aimed at treating impaired healing wounds or excessive scarring situations are established to offer limited benefit to healing outcomes or scar prevention. We're currently evaluating the potential of a number of novel pharmaceuticals, in terms of their abilities to restore or enhance normal healing functions and/or reduced scarring in these patients.


Recently funded projects include:

2018-2022PhD Studentship funded by the Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship for Research Excellence and the School of DentistryNovel cancer drugs EBC-46 and IngM regulate disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM) activity - Impact on tyrosine kinase signalling in head and neck cancer£129,973
2019-2022PhD Studentship funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaOphthalmic applications of pomegranate extracts£105,970
2019-2022PhD Studentship funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi ArabiaEvaluation of the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties of frankincense (Boswellia frereana)£107,850
2019-2023Project Grant funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)The regulation of protective immunity to viruses by L-selectin£548,955
2020-2022PhD Studentship funded by Phillips Research, The NetherlandsInvestigating the effects of blue light on cells of the periodontium£112,211
2021-2023Research Project Grant funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust, UKDevelopment of epoxy-tiglianes as novel small molecule therapeutics for impaired re-epithelialisation associated with non-healing, chronic skin wounds in the aged£298,338
2021-2023Industrial Postdoctoral Research Associate funded by QBiotics Group, AustraliaElucidation of the mechanisms by which epoxy-tiglianes promote preferential wound healing responses in dermal fibroblasts£272,205
2022-2023Project Grant funded by Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS2) East Wales, and Cultech LtdThe impact of probiotic bacteria on intestinal barrier function£22,202
2022-2023Confidence-in-Concept Scheme Award funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), UKEvaluating inactivation of signalling networks by EBC-46 in head and neck cancers£34,031



A number of PhD students who a form part of our research group have been recognised for their achievements in recent years:

Edward Gait-CarrPhD student2022Septodont Poster Presentation Prize, PER/IADR Meeting, Marseille
Vildan CeliksoyPhD student2020Postgraduate Research Day Poster Prize, Cardiff University
Nadia AlaidaroosPhD student2018Postgraduate Research Day Poster Prize, Cardiff University
Glyn MorrisPhD student2017Poster Presentation Prize, ETRS Conference, Brussels
Glyn MorrisPhD student2017Young Investigators’ Oral Presentation Prize, Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair Meeting, Cardiff University

External collaborators

External academic collaborators

Professor Glen Boyle, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia.
Professor Aras Kadioglu and Dr Rong Xu, University of Liverpool, UK.
Professor Alastair Sloan, University of Melbourne, Australia.
Dr Steven Ogbourne and Dr Fraser Russell, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
Dr Tom Prescott, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, UK.

External industrial collaborators

Cultech Ltd., UK.  
Philips Research, The Netherlands.  
QBiotics Group, Australia.

Next steps


Research that matters

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Postgraduate research

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Our research impact

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