• Room 01.058 - CEM

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dr McDonald is open to wide-ranging PhD applications from candidates with a basic science or clinical background. Her fields of interest include: - vascular biology - vision research - pharmacology Previous research experience is desirable although not essential.


Research output per year

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Personal profile



Keywords: Vascular Biology; Cardiovascular Medicine; Ophthalmology; Angiogenesis; OIR; Endothelial cells (EC); Microglial cells; ROP; Hypoxia; Hyperoxia; NOS (eNOS and iNOS); BH4; NADPH oxidase; ROS; RNS; Notch/Dll



Research Interests


Vascular Biology and Cell-Cell Communication: Endothelial / Mural (Pericyte and Smooth Muscle)/ Microglial Cell cross talk 

Disease Focus:  Vascular Disease; Endothelial Dysfunction; Retinal Diseases; Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP); Diabetic Retinopathy

Signalling Pathways:  Nitric oxide Synthases (NOS); NADPH oxidase; Reactive Oxygen and Nitrogen Species (ROS/RNS); Notch/Delta (Dll), Hypoxia; Hyperoxia and Inflammation

Model Systems:   Primary cell isolation and culture (endothelial cell, pericyte, microglial); gene delivery (adenoviral, lentiviral); retina as a model of vascular development in health and disease; oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR); aortic explants; green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged fusion construct generation and imaging




I trained in Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Leeds and the University of Oxford (in the Cardiovascular Medicine Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, a British Heart Foundation Centre of Excellence). 

I am currently Senior Lecturer in the Institute for Experimental Medicine where my research focuses on developing strategies to preserve normal vasculature and prevent vascular diseases caused by diabetes and aging, with a particular interest in oxidative stress and its impact on vascular growth/function/recovery and tissue repair.

My work has been funded externally by, among others, the Wellcome Trust, Fight for Sight, British Heart Foundation and Action Medical Research.



  • Cardiovascular Pathobiology & Treatment (BMS2017) – (Co-ordinator)

  • Masters in Medical Research Training Programme

  • Portfolio Mentor – Level 1 & 2 Medical students


Select Lecture titles

  • Vascular Development: Angiogenesis & Vasculogenesis

  • The Eye: Target and Model of Neovascular Disease

  • Retinopathy of Prematurity

  • Vasculogenesis & Angiogenesis I

  • Tumour Angiogenesis

  • Novel Therapeutic Targets for Tumour Angiogenesis: Role of Vessel Normalisation and Metabolism

  • Gene Therapy for the Eye & Cardiovascular Diseases

  • NOTCH in Retinal Angiogenesis  

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Research Output

NOX4 is a major regulator of cord blood-derived endothelial colony-forming cells which promotes postischaemic revascularisation

O'Neill, K. M., Campbell, D. C., Edgar, K. S., Gill, E. K., Moez, A., McLoughlin, K. J., O'Neill, C. L., Dellett, M., Hargey, C. J., Abudalo, R. A., O'Hare, M., Doyle, P., Toh, T., Khoo, J., Wong, J., McCrudden, C. M., Meloni, M., Brunssen, C., Morawietz, H., Yoder, M. C. & 6 others, McDonald, D. M., Watson, C. J., Stitt, A. W., Margariti, A., Medina, R. J. & Grieve, D. J., 01 Feb 2020, In : Cardiovascular Research. 116, 2, p. 393-405 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    29 Downloads (Pure)

    Enhanced Function of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Endothelial Cells Through ESM1 Signaling

    Vilà-González, M., Kelaini, S., Magee, C., Caines, R., Campbell, D., Eleftheriadou, M., Cochrane, A., Drehmer, D., Tsifaki, M., O'Neill, K., Pedrini, E., Yang, C., Medina, R., McDonald, D., Simpson, D., Zampetaki, A., Zeng, L., Grieve, D., Lois, N., Stitt, A. W. & 1 others, Margariti, A., 17 Nov 2018, In : Stem Cells.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 3 Citations (Scopus)
    263 Downloads (Pure)
    Open Access
  • 5 Citations (Scopus)
    215 Downloads (Pure)

    Development of polymeric–cationic peptide composite nanoparticles, a nanoparticle-in-nanoparticle system for controlled gene delivery

    Jain, A. K., Massey, A., Yusuf, H., McDonald, D. M., McCarthy, H. O. & Kett, V. L., 24 Nov 2015, In : International Journal of Nanomedicine. 2015, 10, p. 7183—7196 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
  • 9 Citations (Scopus)
    313 Downloads (Pure)

    Diabetic Retinopathy: Mechanism, Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment

    Al-Shabrawey, M., Zhang, W. & McDonald, D., 2015, In : BioMed Research International. 2015, 2 p., 854593.

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

    Open Access
    12 Citations (Scopus)
    196 Downloads (Pure)


    • 1 Participation in conference
    • 1 Editorial activity


    Denise McDonald (Speaker)

    Jul 2015

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    BioMed Research International (Journal)

    Denise McDonald (Guest editor)


    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity