The main focus of Professor Cartwright’s research has been events that happen in early pregnancy when the placenta forms.
During normal pregnancy, fetal trophoblast cells from the placenta invade the uterus of the mother. Changes occur to the mother's blood vessels (the spiral arteries in the uterus) which ensure a sufficient blood supply is delivered to the baby as it grows and develops. In pre-eclampsia, a major cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity, trophoblast cells show poor invasion, and there are insufficient changes to the uterine blood vessels.
Professor Cartwright's current research is investigating the interactions between trophoblast cells and the vascular cells of the spiral arteries that lead to vessel remodelling. In collaboration with Professor Guy Whitley, also at St George's, she has identified a novel mechanism of uterine artery remodelling. Their joint research team, the Reproductive and Cardiovascular Disease Research Group, are investigating the regulation of this process. A Wellcome Trust-funded grant focussed on the effects of trophoblast on vascular smooth muscle cells and implicated apoptotic pathways in these crucial vascular changes amongst other regulatory factors such as oxygen and shear stress.
In collaboration with the Digital Imaging Research Centre (University of Kingston) the group are studying the directional movement of fetal cells towards maternal vessels. A British Heart Foundation funded grant in collaboration with Dr Philippe Le Bouteiller (INSERM, France) focussed on the role of soluble HLA-G in regulating trophoblast function and endothelial changes. A collaboration with Dr Mandi De Mestre (Royal Veterinary College) funded by the Wellcome Trust investigated trophoblast differentiation using comparative studies of horse and human pregnancy.
In collaboration with clinicians in the Fetal Medicine Unit at St George’s, Professor Cartwright’s group are investigating the pathophysiology of pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction at a cellular and molecular level. The group have developed methods to isolate multiple cell types from the maternal-fetal interface in the first trimester of pregnancy, and combined this with uterine artery Doppler ultrasound scanning of first trimester pregnancies to identify pregnancies developing normally and those at the highest risk of pregnancy complications.
Funding from the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, Action Medical Research and local studentship provision has allowed the group to extend previous studies to investigate decidual natural killer cells, macrophages, placental endothelial cells, trophoblast and stromal cells in first trimester pregnancies at increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia. Cellular and molecular differences in cells from normal versus complicated pregnancies have been shown, which has been a considerable advance in understanding the aetiology of pregnancy disorders.
Professor Cartwright was awarded a PhD in Immunology from the University of London in 1996. She received a Wellcome Trust Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship at St George's and became a Lecturer in 1999, Senior Lecturer in 2003, Reader in Cell Biology in 2007 and Professor of Reproductive Cell Biology in 2015.
Professor Cartwright is a member of the British Society for Immunology (since 1989), the Biochemical Society (since 1996), International Federation of Placental Associations (since 1999) and the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (2002-2007). She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (since 2007), Society for Reproduction and Fertility (since 2010) and the British Society for Cell Biology (since 2010).
Professor Cartwright received a Modular MA Professional Accreditation in Teaching in Higher Education from the Institute of Education, University of London in 2002. She has held diverse teaching roles at St George’s, including the post of Biomedical Science BSc Admissions Tutor (1999-2009).
Professor Cartwright is particularly involved in teaching on the Biomedical Science BSc course. She was Divisional postgraduate co-ordinator from 2012 to 2013 and has supervised many research students (BSc, MRes, MD (Res) and PhD). She is currently Associate Dean (Research Degrees) and Deputy Head of the Graduate School.
- Wallace AE, Whitley GS, Thilaganathan B and Cartwright JE. Decidual natural killer cell receptor expression is altered in pregnancies with impaired vascular remodelling and a higher risk of pre-eclampsia. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 97(1):79-86 (2015).
- Wallace AE, Goulwara SS, Whitley GS and Cartwright JE. Oxygen modulates decidual natural killer cell surface receptor expression and interactions with trophoblast. Biology of Reproduction 2014 91(6):134 (2014).
- Cabrera-Sharp V, Read JE, Richardson S, Kowalski AA, Antczak DF, Cartwright JE, Mukherjee A and De Mestre AM. SMAD1/5 signaling in the early equine placenta regulates trophoblast differentiation and chorionic gonadotropin secretion. Endocrinology. 155(8):3054-64 (2014).
- Mistry HD, Kurlak LO, Whitley GS, Cartwright JE, Broughton Pipkin F and Tribe RM. Expression of voltage-dependent potassium channels in first trimester human placentae. Placenta 35(5):337-40 (2014).
- Wallace AE, Fraser R, Gurung S, Goulwara SS, Whitley GS, Johnstone AP and Cartwright JE. Increased angiogenic factor secretion by decidual natural killer cells from pregnancies with high uterine artery resistance alters trophoblast function. Human Reproduction 29(4):652-60 (2014).
Wallace AE, Host AJ, Whitley GS and Cartwright JE. Decidual natural killer cell interactions with trophoblasts are impaired in pregnancies at increased risk of pre-eclampsia. American Journal of Pathology 2013 Dec;183(6):1853-61.
- Wallace AE, Cartwright JE, Begum R, Laing K, Thilaganathan B and Whitley GS. Trophoblast-induced changes in C-x-C motif chemokine 10 expression contribute to vascular smooth muscle cell dedifferentiation during spiral artery remodeling. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology 2013 Mar;33(3):e93-e101
- Wallace AE, Whitley GS, Thilaganathan B and Cartwright JE. Decidual natural killer cell receptor expression is altered in pregnancies with impaired vascular remodelling and a higher risk of pre-eclampsia. Journal of Leukocyte Biology. 97(1):79-86 (2015).
- Wallace AE, Host AJ, Whitley GS and Cartwright JE. Decidual natural killer cell interactions with trophoblasts are impaired in pregnancies at increased risk of preeclampsia. American Journal of Pathology 2013 Dec;183(6):1853-61.
- Fraser R, Whitley GS, Johnstone AP, Host AJ, Sebire NJ, Thilaganathan B and Cartwright JE. Impaired decidual natural killer cell regulation of vascular remodelling in early human pregnancies with high uterine artery resistance. Journal of Pathology 2012 Nov;228(3):322-32.
Dr Karin Leslie, MD (Res) student
Miss Rebecca Buckley, PhD student
Miss Laura James-Allan, PhD student
Miss Sandra Ashton, research technician
Professor Guy Whitley (Cardiovascular and Cell Sciences Institute, St George's, University of London)
Dr Ingrid Dumitriu (Cardiovascular and Cell Sciences Institute, St George's, University of London)
Professor Basky Thilaganathan (Fetal Medicine Unit, St George’s Hospital)
Dr Rachel Tribe (Women’s Health, King’s College London)
Professor Neil Sebire (Consultant Pathologist, Great Ormond Street Hospital, London)
Dr Mandi De Mestre (Royal Veterinary College, London)
Dr Andreas Hoppe (Digital Imaging Research Centre, University of Kingston)
Dr Darrel Greenhill (Digital Imaging Research Centre, University of Kingston)
Professor Ian Sargent (Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Oxford)
Dr Lynda Harris (Academic Unit of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Manchester)
Dr Philippe Le Bouteiller (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Toulouse, France)
Dr Ralf Dechend (Charité - Campus Buch, HELIOS Klinikum, Franz-Volhard Klinik, Berlin)
- Medical Research Council. 2015-2018. £506,000. Aberrant first trimester placental endothelial cell biology in fetal growth restriction. GStJ Whitley, JE Cartwright, B Thilaganathan.
- Wellcome Trust. 2010-2015. £342,473. The role of decidual natural killer cells in pregnancies at high risk of pre-eclampsia. JE Cartwright, GStJ Whitley, B Thilaganathan, AP Johnstone.
- SGUL studentship. 2012-2015 (Rebecca Buckley). The role of decidual macrophages in early pregnancy and the pathology of pre-eclampsia. Cartwright JE, Dumitriu I, Whitley GS.
- SGUL studentship. 2012-2016 (Laura James-Allan). Cellular interactions at the maternal-fetal interface. Cartwright JE, Whitley GS, Wallace AE.
- Action Medical Research. 2011-2014. Aberrant trophoblast functions in pregnancies at higher risk of pre-eclamspia. GStJ Whitley, JE Cartwright, B Thilaganathan.
- Wellcome Trust. 2011-2014. Identification of trophoblast differentiation pathways regulated by Glial Cells Missing 1 using comparative studies of horse and human pregnancy. A De Mestre, JE Cartwright.
- The Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. Cytokines and pancreatic cancer: implications of translational control for new therapeutic developments. A Elia, JE Cartwright, S Mudan, M Clemens.
- Foundation for Research Science and Technology New Zealand (Postdoctoral fellowship to Joanna James). The effect of variations in shear stress on spiral artery remodelling in pregnancy. J James, JE Cartwright.
- British Heart Foundation. The role of soluble HLA-G in induction of endothelial apoptosis and uterine vascular remodelling in early pregnancy. JE Cartwright, GStJ Whitley, P Le Bouteiller.
- Wellcome Trust. The mechanism of maternal artery smooth muscle cell remodelling by trophoblast cells during pregnancy. GStJ Whitley, JD Aplin, JE Cartwright, PN Baker, S Robson.