Dr Ann Vernallis studies small proteins called cytokines. Although most people will never have heard of them, abnormal increases or decreases in cytokine levels are associated with a variety of diseases.
Researchers have been interested in them for years; medical interest really took off when anti-TNF (tumour necrosis factor) treatment was developed for rheumatoid arthritis — an example of the beneficial interplay of basic and clinical sciences.
Dr Ann Vernallis is a Lecturer in the School of Life and Health Sciences at the University of Aston. She’s interested in cell signalling. As a post-doctoral fellow, she studied cytokine receptor interactions in the IL-6 family. At Aston, she’s studied the secretion of Leukemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF), the pro-inflammatory activities of lipoteichoic acid from Gram-positive bacteria and cytokine levels in patients with infections. She’s currently working on the anti-inflammatory effects of tetracyclines, and she collaborates on studies of neuron/astrocyte interactions in a neuronal stem cell model.