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Investigating cerebral microvasculature dysfunction in stroke

Cerebrovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality worldwide, with numbers on the rise. It is a serious complication of a number of disease states, including sickle cell disease (SCD). Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic, genetic disease resulting from a single amino acid substitution in the haemoglobin β chain of red blood cells, which affects millions of people worldwide. SCD patients suffer from a prothrombogenic phenotype with excess clot formation and thrombosis, leading to serious consequences such as ischemic stroke. Markers of neutrophil activity have revealed that circulating neutrophils of SCD patients are activated and as such this has provided indirect evidence for their implication in thrombosis. In the proposed studies we will investigate ways in which neutrophils contribute directly to cerebral thrombosis, something that is currently unknown and has never been investigated. We strongly believe that by understanding ways that neutrophils contribute not only to the systemic prothrombogenic phenotype of SCD, but more specifically to the actual local thrombus formation, we will uncover the potential implication of targeting neutrophils as a therapeutic strategy for this debilitating and life threatening disease.

Our findings will have far-reaching implications, as they will increase our knowledge of not only cerebral microvascular disease, but also microvascular thrombosis in general and the role that neutrophils play in linking inflammation and thrombosis in SCD.


Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Professor Felicity Gavins - Felicity read Pharmacology at the University of Sunderland, where she also embarked on an industrial placement year at Bayer Pharmaceuticals in Slough. After completing her BSc (Hons), she moved to London to study for a Ph.D. in Pharmacology at Queen Mary University London, supported by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Felicity was then awarded a BHF Junior Research Fellowship to undertake further research both in the UK and the USA. In 2007 Felicity joined Imperial College London to take up a Lectureship position in the Centre for Integrative Mammalian Physiology and Pharmacology (CIMPP). This was shortly followed by a senior lectureship and the appointment to Deputy Head of The Centre of Neurodegeneration & Neuroinflammation. In 2013 she accepted an academic position in the USA at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport (LSUHSC-S) and was appointed Director of The Small Animal Imaging Facility. Felicity is a Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society and of the Royal Society of Biology. She joined Brunel University London in August 2019 as Professor of Pharmacology and Royal Society Wolfson Fellow, and is the Director of The Centre for Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine (CIRTM). Throughout her academic career, Felicity has worked with and served on numerous national and international research councils, medical charities and learned societies. She has published widely in her field and received a number of awards and honours for her work. She has received funding for her research from a range of funders including: the Royal Society and the Wolfson Foundation (RSWF), the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH/NHLBI). Felicity continues to be actively involved in public and patient organizations which has been immensely instructive for her research. She is also dedicated to promoting mentoring and collaborative research, along with facilitating mentoring of post-doctoral fellows/early-career investigators.

Related Research Group(s)

Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine

Inflammation Research and Translational Medicine - Interdisciplinary research into understanding the inflammatory and immune processes that underlie human health, disease and healing.


Project last modified 19/10/2021