Barbara McDermott
1992 …2020

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Personal profile


My career in cardiovascular pharmacology started in the mid-1980s, when there was an emerging awareness of the role of peptide mediators in controlling the heart and vasculature. On appointment to a junior academic post, I set up the Cardiac Cell Laboratory and initiated a programme of research to study autocrine / paracrine control of cardiac (dys)function. During the early work I enjoyed extensive collaboration with Michael Piper’s group in Düsseldorf, investigating mechanisms of myocyte contraction and hypertrophy, mediated by neuropeptide Y and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). We also took part in a laboratory exchange programme with Hiroshi Watanabe at the University of Hamamatsu. Then I spent sabbatical leave with Stuart Jacobson at Carleton University and the Ottawa Heart Institute, investigating peptide-modulated calcium signalling in human myocytes.  Using these models and techniques in Belfast, investigations of the role of endothelin-1 in hypertension-induced hypertrophy, heart failure and retinopathy were carried out.  Subsequently, I took study leave with Professors Lee and Julie Chao at the Medical University of South Carolina with a view to using adenoviral vectors for application of adrenomedullin (AM) and the more recently discovered intermedin (AM-2).  We are currently investigating the cardioprotective and pro-angiogenic effects of intermedin mediated through receptor activity modifying proteins. Focusing on signalling upstream of NADPH oxidase and generation of reactive oxygen species, the purpose is to identify new molecular entities that could be targetted to reduce the oxidative stress produced in ischaemic conditions or after anthracycline chemotherapy. Another current research programme is directed at understanding the cardioprotective actions of the anti-diabetic glucagon-like peptide-1 mimetics.

During this time, I have supervised over 30 individuals including 18 postgraduate students, and have co-authored 70+ original papers and review articles. Related funding was obtained from project grants awarded by the Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation (BHF), Royal Society, Heart Research UK and the Association of Anaesthetists of GB and Ireland, Fellowships and Studentships from the BHF, NI R&D Office, Department for Education & Learning, European Social Fund, Deutscher Akademische Austauschdienst and QUB Harold McAuley Fund for Cardiovascular Research, and drug company support.

Outside of QUB, I have been invited to act as external examiner for PhD theses in London, Glasgow, Cork, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Oslo, and as external assessor for professorial positions at the University of Cincinnati and Imperial College London. I contributed as a collaborator to a successful bid in 2008 to set up the Jagiellonian Centre for Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Krakow.  I was appointed to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework Sub-panel 5 in Biological Sciences (2013-5).

I am active in a number of professional organizations in Europe and the UK. I was elected to the Council of the International Society for Heart Research (European Section) in 2007 and took up post as Secretary/Treasurer in 2009, completing the term of office in 2012.  In 2005, I was elected a Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology (FESC).  For annual meetings of the affiliated Heart Failure Association, I was a member of the abstract grading panel. I joined the Executive Committee of the British Society for Cardiovascular Research (BSCR) in January 1999 and acted as Secretary from 2002 to 2007. I was co-organizer of the first joint meeting of the BSCR with the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) held in 2008.  I was also a member of Executive Committee of the Scottish Cardiovascular Forum (2001-2012). I am a strong supporter of the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) and was elected a Fellow of the BPS (FBPharmacolS) in 2008. I am a member of the Reviews Sub-Committee of the British Journal of Pharmacology (2006-date) and was on the Editorial Board of Pharmacology & Therapeutics (2006-2012).  I have contributed to BPS activities as a member of the Committee of Heads of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (CHOPT). I was elected to the BPS Meetings Committee in January 2013 and took up the role of Vice-President (Meetings) in January 2014.

Research Statement

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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