The Worcester Biomedical Research Group (WBRG) aims to promote multidisciplinary Biomedical Science research at the University of Worcester

About the group

Science students in white coats in a lab

The Worcester Biomedical Research Group (WBRG) fosters collaborations between staff (cross-institute), students and local health / industrial organisations. Our current research aims to address the major health issues of our time.

Building sustainable societies through research into disease prevention, medical treatment and diagnostics, lies at the heart of the WBRG research ethos. We aim to achieve this goal through basic and translational Biomedical Research with particular focus on cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurodegeneration.


Current Research

Project titleThe Role of BCAT1 in the Development and Treatment of AML (3 year FT PhD studentship  supported by the University of Worcester and Sir Halley Steward Trust).

Details: Our PhD student James Hillier is investigating the role of a metabolic enzyme known as BCAT1 in the development of a type of blood cancer known as Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). AML is a challenging disease particularly for the over 60’s, whom for many treatment is not durable. James is seeking to better understand the biochemical mechanisms that underpin this disease in hope that new treatment strategies may be discovered.

Project titleMonitoring Markers of Oxidative Stress in Acute Coronary Syndrome (5 year PT PhD studentship supported by the NHS).

Details: Through her research our PhD student Angela Doughty aims to improve the early detection and diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Angela is situated at the Worcester Royal NHS Trust and is developing a high throughput assay for the detection of novel biomarkers that appear in the blood during and after AMI. It is hoped that her research will assist in the diagnosis and stratification of patients who present at the clinic with chest pain.

Project title: Molecular Pathways in Neurodegeneration (3 year FT PhD studentship supported by the University of Worcester).

Details: Our PhD student Ellen Joyce’s research focusses on understanding the complex cellular processes that lead to the development of neurodegeneration such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Ellen’s work seeks to understand how nutrition effects important cellular components i.e. membrane lipid composition and how this contributes to neuronal cell function and survival. It is hoped that understanding this process may impact on AD prevention and treatment.

Project title: Nutritional Biochemistry: Neuronal Cell Biology (FT international PhD student from Sao Paulo Federal University in Brazil).

Details: Bruna Hirata is an International PhD visiting student from Brazil, and her areas of interest include obesity and its related metabolic disorders, and research on management and treatment strategies.It is expected that the research Bruna will undertake will reveal novel mechanisms in the pathophysiology of chronic diseases, and will also attempt to elucidate the potential anti-obesogenic and antidiabetic effects of plant polyphenols.

Key Publications

Coles, S.J., Gilmour, M., Reid, R., Knapper, S., Man, S., Tonks, A. and Darley, R.L. (2015). The immunosuppressive ligands PD-L1 and CD200 are linked in AML immunosuppression: identification of a new immunotherapeutic synapse. Leukemia. 29(9): 1952-4.

Cherry, A.L., Nott, T.J., Kelly G., Rulten, S.L., Caldecott, K.W. and Smerdon, S.J. (2015). Versatility in phospho-dependent molecular recognition of the XRCC1 and XRCC4 DNA-damage scaffolds by aprataxin-family FHA domains. DNA Repair (Amst). 35: 116-25.

Dornellas, A.P., Watanabe, R.L., Pimentel, G.D., Boldarine, V.T., Nascimento, C.M., Oyama, L.M., Ghebremeskel, K., Wang, Y., Bueno, A.A. and Ribeiro, E.B. (2015). Deleterious effects of lard-enriched diet on tissues fatty acids composition and hypothalamic insulin actions. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 102(103): 21-9.

Bueno, A.A.,
 Brand, A., Neville, M.M., Lehane, C., Brierley, N. and Crawford, M.A. (2014). Erythrocyte phospholipid molecular species and fatty acids of Down syndrome children compared with non-affected siblings. Br J Nutr. (24): 1-10.

Cherry, A.L., Finta, C., Karlström, M., Jin, Q., Schwend, T., Astorga-Wells, J., Zubarev, R.A., Del Campo, M., Criswell, A.R., de Sanctis, D., Jovine, L. and Toftgård, R. (2013). Structural basis of SUFU–GLI interaction in human Hedgehog signalling regulation. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 69(12): 2563-79.

Coles, S.J.
, Hills, R.K., Wang, E., Man, S., Burnett, A.K., Darley, R.L. and Tonks, A. (2012). Increased CD200 expression in acute myeloid leukemia is linked with an increased frequency of FoxP3+ regulatory T-cells. Leukemia. 26(9): 2146-2148.**

Coles, S.J.
, Hills, R.K., Wang, E., Man, S., Burnett, A.K., Darley, R.L. and Tonks, A. (2012). Expression of CD200 on AML blasts directly suppresses memory T-cell function. Leukemia. 26(9): 2148-2151.**
**back to back publications

Bueno, A.A., Ghebremeskel, K., Bakheit, K.H., Elbashir, M.I. and Adam, I. (2012). Dimethyl acetals, an indirect marker of the endogenous antioxidant plasmalogen level, are reduced in blood lipids of Sudanese pre-eclamptic subjects whose background diet is high in carbohydrate. J Obstet Gynaecol32(3): 241-6.

Current Opportunities

Fully-funded PhD studentships with WBRG will be advertised here, but also on

Approaches from self-supporting PhD students are accepted all year round. Please contact Dr Steven Coles for an informal discussion.

We welcome any approach from high achieving graduates that would like to consider studying for an MRes in Biomedical Research at the University of Worcester. Topics of interest are those which focus on aspects of either WBRG research theme. Please contact Dr Steven Coles to express an interest with an outline of your research interests.

Current opportunities
Projects that staff within WBRG are currently looking for MRes students:

Project title: “Development of diagnostic tests for the stratification and monitoring of cancer”.
Contact: Dr Steven Coles: 

Project title: 
“Evaluating novel chemotherapeutic compounds for the treatment of cancer”.
Contact: Dr Steven Coles:

Project title: “The role of essential fatty acids in glucose homeostasis in neural cells subjected to oxidative stress”.
Contact: Dr Allain Bueno:

Project title: “Effects of plant polyphenols on intracellular insulin signalling in neural cells and blood brain barrier”.
Contact: Dr Allain Bueno:

Project title: “Combined effects of physical activity and supplementation with essential fatty acids from plant or marine sources in blood cell membrane composition and stability”.
Contact: Dr Allain Bueno:

Project title: “Cell signalling crosstalk in myeloid leukaemia”.
Contact: Dr Amy Cherry:

Project title: “The role of the Hedgehog signalling pathway in programmed cell death”.
Contact: Dr Amy Cherry:

WBRG Members

Academic Staff Members

Research Student Members

  • James Hillier (PhD Student in Leukaemia Research)
  • Angela Doughty (PhD Student in Cardiovascular Disease Research)
  • Ellen Joyce (PhD Student in Neurobiology Research)
  • Michael Baker (MRes Student in Leukaemia Research)
  • Bruna Hirata (International PhD student in Nutritional Biochemistry)

Associate Staff & Post-Graduate Members

External Collaborators

  • Dr Alex Wadley (Loughborough University)
  • Dr Wayne Heaselgrave (Wolverhampton University)
  • Dr Rhys Morgan (University of Bristol)
  • Dr Mike Beeton (Cardiff Metropolitan University)
  • Dr Helen Weaver (Cardiothoracic Clinical Fellow, Papworth Hospital NHS Trust)
  • Dr Pedro Gonzales-Muniesa (University on Navarra, Spain)
  • Dr Monica Telles (Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  • Dr Rosangela Passos (Federal University of Bahia, Brazil)