Research Fellows Directory
Professor Valerie O'Donnell
Vascular inflammation is a major underlying contributor to our most significant killer diseases, including atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes, pulmonary hypertension and sepsis (blood infection). In my research group, we use a biophysical method called mass spectrometry to identify new ways in which circulating blood cells communicate during vascular inflammation. In particular, we search for new lipids (fats) that cells use to signal to each other to promote disease. Since 2007 we have discovered over 120 new lipids made by human platelets, neutrophils and monocytes that we have shown can regulate inflammatory processes including blood clotting and antibacterial activities of white cells. These lipids are formed during injury to help stop us bleeding and prevent infection, but when they form in the vasculature we believe they cause significant problems including thrombosis and inflammation. We are working with clinical colleagues including haematologists and cardiologists to determine their role in bleeding and thrombotic disorders and atherosclerosis. Our work uses cellular and animal models as well as clinical samples. We also study how these lipids regulate normal healing that occurs in skin. Our studies are leading to design of new treatments for vascular inflammation including a small lipid molecule currently in Phase II clinical trials in the US.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)