Professor Gillian Cockerill is currently Head of the Vascular Research Centre within the Molecular and Clinical Sciences Research Institute at St George's.
Her research concentrates on all aspects of molecular mechanisms of degenerative vascular disease, such as unstable angina and abdominal aortic aneurysm. Professor Cockerill’s group is a leading proponent of the idea that a pharmacological solution to the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm is attainable in the future.
The work Professor Cockerill and her research group undertakes ranges from basic molecular mechanisms of gene expression, to the cellular response to physical and biological stressors, to characterisation of pharmaceutical candidates for aneurismal disease, as well as the translation of these candidates into human clinical trials.
Professor Cockerill also has a research interest in developing intellectual property strategies that facilitate the translation of medicines rapidly to the clinic.
In 2003 Professor Cockerill joined St George's as a senior lecturer and secured EU FP7 and consecutive British Heart Foundation project funding to support her work into novel pharmacological therapies for reducing the rate of growth of abdominal aortic aneurysms. She leads a group investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of degenerative vascular diseases, and has established small and large animal models of aortic aneurysm.
Having obtained a BSc (Hons) in biochemistry from King's College , Professor Cockerill went on to gain a PhD at Melbourne University (1991), studying the molecular mechanisms of smooth muscle phenotypic (genetic characteristics) modulation and their role in the aetiology of atherosclerosis.
Professor Cockerill took up a Post-doctoral Fellowship at The Hanson Centre for Cancer Research, Adelaide, Australia, in Professor Jenny Gamble's laboratory. During this time Dr Cockerill was awarded two prestigious Young Investigator Awards (International Vascular Biology Society at Heidelberg 1994, and the European Atherosclerosis Society, Utrecht 1995).
Professor Cockerill was the first to demonstrate that high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) had anti-inflammatory properties. On her return to the UK in 1996, Professor Cockerill was awarded a British Heart Foundation Intermediate Fellowship to investigate the anti-inflammatory properties of HDLs in a large animal model, in the laboratory of Professor Dorian Haskard at Imperial College .
Zeng L, Xiao Q, Chen M, Margariti A, Martin D, Ivetic A, Xu H, Mason J, Wang W, Cockerill G, Mori K, Li JY, Chien S, Hu Y, Xu Q. Vascular endothelial cell growth-activated XBP1 splicing in endothelial cells is crucial for angiogenesis. Circulation. 2013;127:1712-22.
Margariti A, Li H, Chen T, Martin D, Vizcay-Barrena G, Alam S, Karamariti E, Xiao Q, Zampetaki A, Zhang Z, Wang W, Jiang Z, Gao C, Ma B, Chen YG, Cockerill G, Hu Y, Xu Q, Zeng L. XBP1 mRNA splicing triggers an autophagic response in endothelial cells through BECLIN-1 transcriptional activation. J Biol Chem. 2013;288:859-72
Torsney E, Pirianov G, Charolidi N, Shoreim A, Gaze D, Petrova S, Laing K, Meisinger T, Xiong W, Baxter BT, Cockerill GW. Elevation of plasma high-density lipoproteins inhibits development of experimental abdominal aortic aneurysms. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012;32:2678-86.
Pirianov G, Torsney E, Howe F, Cockerill GW. Rosiglitazone negatively regulates c-Jun N-terminal kinase and toll-like receptor 4 proinflammatory signalling during initiation of experimental aortic aneurysms. Atherosclerosis. 2012;225:69-75.
Alam S, Li H, Margariti A, Martin D, Zampetaki A, Habi O, Cockerill G, Hu Y, Xu Q, Zeng L. Galectin-9 protein expression in endothelial cells is positively regulated by histone deacetylase 3. J Biol Chem. 2011;286:44211-7.
Zampetaki A, Zeng L, Margariti A, Xiao Q, Li H, Zhang Z, Pepe AE, Wang G, Habi O, deFalco E, Cockerill G, Mason JC, Hu Y, Xu Q. Histone deacetylase 3 is critical in endothelial survival and atherosclerosis development in response to disturbed flow. Circulation. 2010;121:132-42
GW Cockerill, T Huehns, C Stocker, NE Miller and DO Haskard. Elevation of plasma HDL inhibits cytokine-induced induction of E-selectin in a porcine model of acute inflammation. Circulation .2001.103:108-112.
GW Cockerill, M McDonald, S Cruzzocrea, C Thiemermann. High density lipoproteins reduce organ injury and dysfunction following hemorrhagic shock. FASEB J. 2001.15.1945-1951.
GW Cockerill, J Saklatvala, SH Ridley, H Yarwood, NE Miller, B Oral, S Nithyanathan, G Taylor and DO Haskard. High-density lipoproteins differentially modulate cytokine-induced expression of E-selectin and cyclooxygenase-2. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1999.19:910-917.
Evelyn Torsney – the role of stem cells in degenerative vascular disease, in particular the influence of endoglin and TGFbeta on stem cell biology.
Grisha Pirianov – the role of TLR4 agonists on models of aneurismal biology with respect to JNK signal transduction on vascular cells.
Nicoletta Charolidi – the role of Egr-1 activated genes in aneurismal biology.
Christopher Huggins – the structure and functional changes which occur in high-density lipoproteins during the formation of aneurysms.
Professor Matt Thompson, Vascular Research Institute, St George’s NHS Trust.
Professor Jean-Baptiste Michel INSERM, Hopital Bichat, Paris.
Professor John Frangos – Director La Jolla Institute of Bioengineering, California.
Dr Iain Greenwood - exploring expression of the Kv7 channels in hypertensive mice.
Professor Matt Thompson - investigating mechanisms of vascular aging (angiogenic response, stem cells and stress-induced genes) in human aneurismal biopsies.
Dr Debbie Baines – establishing the effect of Metformin on aneurismal development in a murine model.
Dr Steve Bevan - understanding the role of HDAC9 in pulsatile stretch in smooth muscle cell biology.
Professor Edward Fisher (Director of Molecular Medicine, New York University, USA).
Dr Jan Lindemann (University of Lieden, Netherlands).
Professor Jonathan Golledge (Department of Vascular Surgery, James Cook University, Australia).
Professor Koichi Yoshimura (Yamaguchi University, Ube, Japan).
Professor Helena Kuivaneimi (Head of Genetics, Danville, USA).
Dr David Bishop-Bailey (Department of Cell Signalling, Royal Vet College, London,UK).
Professor Tim McGloughlin (Head of Bioengineering, University of Limerick, Ireland).
Professor Christian Gasser (Royal Institute Technology, Stockholm, Sweden).
Professor Ron Dalman (Director of Vascular Surgery, Stanford, USA)
Professor Eric Allaire (Hopital Creteil, Paris, France).
Professor Natzi Sakalihasan (Department of Surgery, University Liege, Belgium).
Funding – current and recent
Biomedical Science lecture on Lipid Lowering Strategies.
Supporting BSc projects.
Introduction to Cardiovascular Sciences
Translational models of Cardiovascular Sciences
Lipids I and II.
Core module on Human Tissue Authority - Governance of the use of human tissue in research.