Abigail Byford

Abigail Byford


I obtained my First Class MBiol, BSc (International) Neuroscience degree from the University of Leeds in July 2019. As I was keen to pursue a PhD and further career in academic research I took the opportunity throughout my degree to gain laboratory experience. My MBiol project focused on the modulation of neurogenesis in the mouse spinal cord with Prof. Jim Deuchars. Additionally, I have completed two summer studentships, one at Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona, USA and one with Dr Julie Aspden at the University of Leeds. The latter project furthered my interest in molecular and RNA biology, which drew me towards my current PhD project.

I am currently on the 4-year British Heart Foundation PhD programme, which I began in October 2019, working under the supervision of Dr Karen Forbes, Professor Eleanor Scott, Dr Virginia Pensabene and Dr Nigel Simpson.

Research interests

My research is focused on the complications of maternal diabetes in pregnancy, including its effects on placental and fetal growth, particularly where infants are born large for gestational age (LGA). I am specifically interested in the influence of extracellular vesicle-bound microRNAs and maternal glucose levels in pregnancies complicated by diabetes, particularly focusing on placental vascular function. My project involves the use of microfluidics to model maternal glucose profiles observed in diabetic pregnancies and understand the impact of glucose on the placenta.

In addition to my laboratory research, I am interested in public engagement. I have developed several engagement activities that link my research on the placenta and my interest in artistic printmaking, known as PlacentArt, including at the University of Leeds Be Curious Festival. I have recently recieved public engagement funding from the Society for Endocrinology to continue the PlacentArt project.


  • BSc, MBiol (Hons) Neuroscience (International), University of Leeds (First Class)