I obtained my PhD in 1999 at the Institute of Child Health, University of Sheffield, then spent several years working as Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Departments of Infection and Immunity, and Oncology at the University of Sheffield Medical School. I was appointed Lecturer at the School of Clinical Dentistry in 2006, Senior Lecturer in 2012, Reader in 2015 and then to Personal Chair in 2019.
My main interests are centered on the innate immune response in oral diseases, in particular head and neck cancer and host-pathogen interactions. I am particularly interested in how immune cells are recruited to tumour sites, how they interact with other cells in the tumour microenvironment, and how the factors that these cells secrete may affect tumour growth. As part of this research my group has developed novel in vitro 3-dimensional models of oral cancer. My research also includes use of tissue-engineered models of the oral mucosa and zebrafish infection models to study the role of oral microbes in mucosal and systemic disease. I am also involved with projects aimed at developing novel oral patches for oral mucosal drug delivery and non-invasive diagnostics for the detection and management of oral pre-malignant lesions.
Role of innate immune cells in head and neck cancer progression.
Development of tissue engineered immunocompetent oral mucosal and skin models.
Host-pathogen interactions at the mucosal surface.
Use of zebrafish to examine the role of oral microbes in systemic disease.
Drug delivery and xenobiotic metabolising enzymes in skin and the oral mucosa.
(A) Monocytes (green) infiltrating a head and neck cancer spheroid (blue), hypoxic tumour areas are shown in red. (B) Infiltrating tumour-associated neutrophils (brown) in an oral squamous cell carcinoma.
A) Tissue engineered oral mucosa (B) tissue engineered oral mucosa infected with Candida albicans (purple), oral keratinocytes are stained brown, (C) immunocompetent tissue engineered oral mucosa containing CD68+ve macrophages
Porphyromonas gingivalis (green) invading endothelial cells (red) and passing into tissues in a zebrafish systemic infection model.
Electrospun oral mucosa patch developed in collaboration with Afyx Therapeutics. The patches are currently in clinical trials for the delivery of steroids to the oral mucosa for treatment of oral lichen planus
- Cher Farrugia: Use of in vitro and in vivo zebrafish embryo infection models to investigate the role of oral microorganisms in cardiovascular disease. (co-supervisor: Dr Graham Stafford, University Faculty Studentship)
- Bethany Ollington: Immune-competent tissue engineered oral mucosal models to investigate xenobiotic metabolism. (co-supervisor: Dr Helen Colley, DiMeN MRC Studentship)
- Inmaculada Barragan Vazquez: Tissue engineered modelling of atopic dermatitis (co-supervisors: Dr Helen Colley & Dr Simon Danby, Almirall S.A. funded PhD Studentship)
- Katharina Clitherow: Manufacture of electrospun polymer devices for drug delivery (lead supervisor: Prof. Paul Hatton, EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Polymers and Soft Matter)
- Asma El-Howati: Tissue engineered oral inflammatory lesions (lead supervisor: Dr Helen Colley, Funded by Libyan Government Scholarship)
- Klaudia Slowik: The role of metabolising enzymes in drug delivery for prevention of alveolar osteitis. (lead supervisor: Dr Helen Colley, EPSRC Funded Studentship)
- Jake Edmans: Peptide delivery using electrospun mucoadhesive patches (lead supervisor: Dr Helen Colley, EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Polymers and Soft Matter)
- Asmaa Zanki: Fabrication of dentures with anti-fungal properties by additive manufacturing. (lead supervisor: Prof. Paul Hatton - Funded by Kuwait Government Scholarship)
Undergraduates teaching modules:
Bachelor of Dental Surgery:
- DEN103 - The Human Body
- DEN204 - Basic Oral & Dental Care
- DEN304 - Integrated Human Disease
- DEN504 - Oral Disease
Post-Graduate Taught Course:
- DEN616 – Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Dentistry (module lead) taught to both MSc in Dental Materials Science and MMedSci in Diagnostic Oral Pathology
- OCP604 – MSc(Res) Translational Oncology (Chemokines in Cancer)
PGT research projects regularly supervised for MSc Dental Materials Science, MMedSci in Diagnostic Oral Pathology, MSc Molecular Medicine and MSc(Res) Translational Oncology.
- British Association for Cancer Research National Executive Committee Member (2017 - present).
- National Centre for the Replacement Refinement and Reduction of Animals (NC3R) Studentship Grant Review Board Member (2016 - present).
- Member of the University of Sheffield Senate (2017 –present).
- PlosOne Academic Editor (2015 - present).