Veterinary preclinical sciences research
Our research focuses on physiology, neuroscience, ageing and chronic diseases of joints and the musculoskeletal system.
Much of the work is interdisciplinary and crosses species barriers. Our external funding is continually growing, with income from the European Commission, research councils, industry and leading charitable foundations.
Our impact philosophy
Our impact philosophy represents a commitment to engage a range of stakeholders in applied research, which contributes to improving the world we live in through science and technological innovation and driving forward policy and professional practice in line with the concept of One Health-One Medicine.
Members of the department are additionally involved with the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Academic Health Sciences Network set to encourage greater collaboration between academic institutions, the NHS and industry to boost research and innovation to create real-world impact.
Our extensive, well-established collaborations with the biomedical industry, the NHS and the veterinary fraternity continue to provide knowledge transfer to the commercial sector, clinical practice and the wider community allowing us to make a difference in the lives of everyday people and animals. These are reflected in the research awards we have received thus far.
Principal investigators in the department
Dr Ioannis Smyrnias
Lecturer in Cellular and Molecular Sciences
Ioannis studies the mechanisms that regulate the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt), an evolutionarily conserved stress response that he has previously shown to preserve mitochondrial homeostasis and protect the failing heart. Considering how critical the processes involved in mitochondrial protein homeostasis are for cardiac function, identifying nuanced approaches to enhance the UPRmt in the overloaded heart has potential impact in developing therapeutic agents against heart failure, as well as other conditions that affect human health.
Dr Giovanna Nalesso
Lecturer in Musculoskeletal Biology
Giovanna has a world class reputation in the dissection of signalling pathways driving the homeostasis of the articular cartilage in physiology and disease. Her overarching goal is to discover novel pharmacological targets to treat osteoarthritis (OA), affecting both humans and animals in line with the schools One-Health mission. Her research focusses on two main areas: molecular signalling driving OA pathogenesis and development of artificial models to study articular cartilage physiology. Her research is interdisciplinary and fosters national and international collaborations. Her vision is to build up on her discoveries and to engage with industrial partners to translate her findings into clinical fruition.
Dr Rebecca Lewis
Lecturer in Physiology
Rebecca’s work investigates the interactions of cell membrane proteins, particularly ion channels, with their underlying tissue/substrate. She has extensive expertise in the characterisation of ion channel proteins, and how modulation of these affects cell function in health and disease. Her areas of specialty are in cartilage physiology, the ion channels expressed within chondrocytes (the resident cell type of cartilage) and how these channels are altered in disease states. She has a developing research area in tissue engineering and is investigating several novel substrates for their suitability as in vitro cellular scaffolds.
Dr Kamalan Jeevaratnam
Associate Dean International FHMS, Head of Department (Veterinary Preclinical Sciences), Reader in Clinical Physiology
Kamalan is a clinician scientist by training and leads an interdisciplinary team of medics, veterinarians, computational biologist and basic scientist that focus on the mechanistic elucidation of multiple cardiovascular conditions using time-tested gold standard techniques and state-of-the-art approaches. Specifically, his research interest includes integrative physiology, novel therapeutic agent & biomarker discoveries, and computing in cardiology. His present work concerns the use integrative physiology techniques to elucidate mechanism of cardiac arrhythmia, developing cardiovascular risk stratification strategies for clinical practice through biomarker development and computational approaches. His work seeks to clarify the cross-cutting mechanistic influence of ageing and individual genetic makeups such as ethnicity, gender, and breed (for animals) in disease development and detection.
Alignment of department research with funding agency strategies
All our projects are grounded on our motivation, for both students and academics to closely connect to business and end-users ensuring our research benefits individuals.
Under the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Translational Research science area, we are aligned with the ambition of turning fundamental discoveries into improvements in human health and economic benefit. Innovative approaches previously used in the study of animal diseases are now being translated into human medicine demonstrating our iterative process of innovation. Additionally, our research is well aligned under the MRC’s stratified medicine consortia for the establishment of disease-specific multi-partner groups across the UK that will help resolve disease burden.
Our work in fundamental disease mechanisms in osteoarthritis and cardiac failure both of which significantly impact domesticated animals are closely aligned to the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funding remit that supports fundamental and strategic research leading to the development of intervention strategies that enhance the health and welfare of animals.
Our innovative work on scaffold developments for in-vitro diagnostics and use of computational approaches for clinical risk predictions are aligned to the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund specifically under their ageing society theme which aim to accelerate research into early diagnosis and intervention that lead to better prevention and treatment of disease and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Healthcare Technologies call.
UKRI funding strategy aligned to work within the department - guide for bidding
- Animal health
- Healthy ageing across life course
- Replacement, refinement and reduction (3Rs) in research
- Technology development for the biosciences
- Prevention and early detection
- Advanced therapies
- Global health
- Healthcare technologies
- Industrial strategy challenge fund
Research active academics within the department have identified priority areas and mapped their respective research plans to current strategies of funders. For the next three years the focus will be on bidding for council grants although charity-based grants that add strategic value to our school’s profile will also be considered.
The department meets for 30 minutes weekly to track bid progress and resolve any immediate concerns related to bid submission. There are additionally monthly meetings to share ideas and critically appraise these proposals to ensure bids remain competitive. The department head expects all bids to be reviewed independently by a third party for feedback prior to submission. All research-active academics are set a target income which is monitored annually and reviewed over a three-year rolling period. A number of competitive bids submitted are also reviewed at appraisal meetings and targets set for future years.
Additionally, several projects within the department have progressed to a stage where real-world applicability is a viable option. Academic leads for these projects are now working collaboratively with staff from Engineering and Physical Sciences to explore the next stage in moving these projects to the development stage. The plan is for collaborative grant submission to EPSRC (Healthcare Technology Board call) and Innovate UK – Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme.