Funding Award: Investigation of a role for hypoxia inducible factor type 1 in non alcoholic liver disease

Awarded to: Dr Rachel Knott (School of Pharmacy & Life Sciences, RGU) and Dr. Sheikh Tasduq Abdullah (CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu, India).

The funder:  Newton Bhabha PhD placements programme operates with the British Council in collaboration with the Department of Biotechnology. The Newton Fund is part of UK’s official development assistance with the aim to develop science and innovation partnerships that promote economic development and social welfare of partner countries. The fund linked with India is the Newton-Bhabha fund and this successful application is one of only 35 funded projects.

Both of our institutions have a common interest in the identification of the cellular and molecular mechanism of tissue damage in conditions of diabetes and related co-morbidities. The underlying specific research questions have a different focus although there is significant overlap and it is hoped that this funding will facilitate further collaboration.

Successful applicant: Mr Love Sharma (PhD candidate at CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine)

The research topic: This is an important area of research as it addresses key issues aligned with the development of the vascular complication of diabetes mellitus (DM) (both Type 1 and Type 2). There is a significant and growing global burden of DM but it is particularly high across Asia, including India where it is recognised that the most significant clinical burden arises from the complications that are associated with DM. This includes coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, liver disease, atherosclerosis, and microvascular disease, for example retinopathy, neuropathy, and nephropathy.

The funding that has been received will allow Mr Sharma to spend 6 months in the School of Pharmacy & Life Sciences at RGU on this project to look at a particular aspect of the vascular network of the liver in conditions of non-alcohol fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In India, Mr Sharma is conducting his PhD on the molecular mechanisms associated with NAFLD and in particular the communication within liver cells when exposed to high levels of lipid. While at RGU, Mr Sharma will be looking specifically at the response of the blood vessels within the liver and at the communication networks within the vascular endothelial cells.