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Cardiovascular and other disease biology

Cardiovascular disease; reproduction; comparative pathobiology


The University has recently created a strategic initiative in cardiovascular disease and has a strategic network in metabolic disorders. The School houses the Centre for Trophoblast Research, which has the aim of alleviating suffering resulting from placentally-related complications of pregnancy that remain a major cause of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality worldwide. In Veterinary Medicine a wide range of disorders is treated, with corresponding research in animal diseases and surgery. This work has a high impact on animal welfare, especially coupled with advances in the cancer and infection and immunity themes. We outline below a few examples from human and veterinary medicine of the type of work in this theme.

Sudden cardiac death causes 4.5 million deaths worldwide each year, many of which could be prevented by implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), but these also carry risks. Research has led to improved diagnostic assays and an improved subcutaneous ICD (SIDC) which has been used in 2500 patients in 16 countries.

Recent research on folate metabolism has shown that the consequences of folate deficiency in human pregnancy include epigenetic instability and multigenerational developmental defects, affecting the health of great-great grandchildren.

Veterinary research includes work on the genetics of eye diseases in dogs and on endocrine disease. Key discoveries have been made relating to the pathophysiology of red blood cells, including the first demonstration that sickle cells can be patch-clamped in order to record deoxygenation-induced conductance. Collaborations with the Orthopaedics Research Unit at the University’s Biomedical Campus are enabling significant progress with a programme on osteochondral healing in horses and the establishment of  strong links with the pharmaceutical sector. Chronic canine pancreatitis has been identified as being a significant clinical problem and variable breed predisposition to chronic hepatitis has been found.