Professor Ann Morgan

Professor Ann Morgan

Profile

Phone: 0113 343 7764 (please note this is the number for the TARGET Programme office and they do not deal with any clinical enquiries).

For clinical queries, please contact my NHS Secretary Mrs Andrea Sweeting at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust on 0113 206 5117

Biography

I am Head of the Molecular and Personalised Medicine Group within the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine. I graduated from the University of Leeds with first class honours in Pathology and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery with Honours, having achieved distinctions in Biochemistry and Surgery, and Prizes in Medicine and Surgery. I chose a clinical career in rheumatology and subsequently undertook a PhD studying Fcg Receptor genetics in rheumatoid arthritis, supported by an MRC Clinical Training Fellowship. I continued my research in Fcg Receptor biology during an Arthritis Research UK/Academy of Medical Sciences Clinician Scientist Fellowship. The award of my HEFCE Clinical Senior Lectureship allowed me to continue my work on the FcgRs, whilst developing new academic interests in genetic and soluble biomarkers and disease outcomes.

My main clinical interests are vasculitis and rare autoimmune diseases, and I lead the regional Behçets syndrome and large vessel vasculitis services.

My active research projects range from laboratory studies to large data analysis and I also undertake patient-focused research. I Chair both the UK GCA Consortium and the MRC TARGET Partnership and I’m establishing an expanding research programme in vascular biology.

Responsibilities:

  • Academic responsibilities: Head of Molecular and Personalised Medicine group; Chair UK GCA Consortium; MRC TARGET Partnership Lead; NIHR BRC, Personalised Medicine and Drug Repurposing Work Stream Lead; MRC-MATURA, Methotrexate & Rituximab Pharmacogenetics Studies Lead; Leeds MRC Medical Bioinformatics Centre, Musculoskeletal Lead; NIHR Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative (DEC), Musculoskeletal Lead and UKiVAS large vessel vasculitis Research Lead.
  • Patient groups and charity responsibilities: Vasculitis UK (Medical Board), PMRGCAuk (Medical Advisor), Behçet’s Syndrome Society (Medical Board).
  • Management responsibilities: the Molecular and Personalised Medicine group consists of seven staff (two further members of staff will be appointed in early 2019). Academic staff: Dr Jim Robinson, Dr Ana Tiganescu and Dr Euan Baxter. TARGET Programme Office: Programme Manager, Dr Charlotte Harden and Project Manager, Dr Louise Sorensen. Immunogenetics Facility Technicians: Mr Steve Martin and Mrs Lubna Shafi.
  • Grant management responsibilities: I am currently PI on four grants and Co-I on an additional eight grants, some of which are highlighted below:
  1. MRC Partnership Award, Treatment According to Response in Giant cEll arteritis (TARGET) £700,000
  2. European Union Marie Skodowska-Curie - Innovative Training Network, HELICAL (HEalth data LInkage for ClinicaL benefit), Lead for work package 2: identification of key pathogenic pathways suitable for therapeutic targeting in GCA €316672.56
  3. NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Award, Workstream Lead for Drug Repurposing and Treatment Toxicity £6,736,575
  4. NIHR EME, Optimal utilisation of biologic drugs in Behçet's Diseases: a randomised controlled trial of infliximab vs alpha interferon, with genotyping and metabolomic profiling, towards a stratified medicines approach £571,469
  5. MRC and Arthritis Research UK Stratified Medicine Award, MAximising Therapeutic Utility of Rheumatoid Arthritis using genetic and genomic tissue responses to stratify medicines (MATURA consortium), Lead Methotrexate Pharmacogenetics and FCGR Pharmacogenetics Programmes £6,036, 988

Responsibilities

  • Head of the Molecular and Personalised Medicine group
  • Academic Training Programme Director for Rheumatology
  • Consultant Rheumatologist

Research interests

I lead a number of interdisciplinary and cross-collaborative projects that have multiple partners representing academia and industry in the UK, EU and Internationally. Five of my key broad research themes are presented below:

  1. A central paradigm of my laboratory’s work is that autoantibodies drive persistent inflammatory responses. We have identified novel genetic variants in the IgG receptors (Fcg Receptors) that are associated with multiple autoimmune diseases. We have shown dysregulation of receptor expression influences treatment responses. With colleagues in Biological Sciences and Physics, I established a drug-development programme that identified Affimers as prototypic therapeutics which may ultimately be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoantibody-mediated diseases.
  2. I have collaborated widely with national and international genetics consortia and rare disease clinical and scientific communities for over 15 years. Through my NIHR-BRC, NIHR-DEC, MRC-MATURA and MRC-TARGET awards my group are exploring the potential for translating genetic discoveries into clinically useful diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers.
  3. MRC TARGET (Treatment According to Response in Giant cEll arteritis) is a multi-institution, multi-speciality partnership with a common purpose of reducing glucocorticoid toxicity and improving outcomes for patients with GCA. Our aims will be achieved through the development of improved tools for clinical evaluation (including diagnostic, monitoring and stratification biomarkers) allowing 1) more accurate diagnosis, 2) rapid glucocorticoid reduction for those in true disease remission and 3) increased access to glucocorticoid-sparing therapies for those with ongoing disease.  So far eleven academic and two industry partners have signed the MRC TARGET Partnership agreement, and we are working with numerous other academic, clinical and industry parties who have a vested interest in our portfolio of research. More information about TARGET can be found here.
  4. The UK GCA Consortium aims to identify genetic determinants of GCA and PMR susceptibility in order to yield novel insights into disease pathogenesis. There are six different work streams 1) Phenotype: characterising GCA and PMR subtypes, based on clinical features and research tests, 2) Life Impact: determining aspects of the disease and treatment that affect quality of life, 3) Long-term Outcome: characterising the prognosis of GCA and PMR in terms of both effects of the disease and its treatment, 4) Exploratory: the potential role of environmental factors and co-morbidities on phenotype and outcomes, 5) Diagnosis, Prognosis: improving the diagnosis of GCA and PMR, and identifying factors that predict prognosis, and 6) Disease Activity: biomarkers for GCA and PMR disease activity, optimising steroid dose for individual patients.
  5. The HELICAL Innovative Training Network is comprised of 26 leading Universities and and non-academic partners drawn from nine European countries and, as such, represents a significant wealth of expertise. The network will provide 15 early-career stage researchers with state-of-the-art training in the analysis of large datasets from individuals with vasculitis. It focuses on three complementary areas 1) application of informatics to datasets to gain new biological insights, 2) translation of biological into practical clinical outputs, and 3) identification of novel ethical constraints imposed on such studies and development of strategies to manage them. The work packages, although each address a different aspect of the common theme, are inter-linked to leverage skill sharing. I am the lead for work package 2: identification of key pathogenic pathways suitable for therapeutic targeting in GCA.

Qualifications

  • FRCP, Royal College of Physicians, London
  • PhD, University of Leeds;
  • MBChB (Hons.), University of Leeds
  • BSc, Pathology, Class I, University of Leeds

Professional memberships

  • British Society of Rheumatology
  • British Society of Immunology
  • Royal College of Physicians

Student education

I am a Supervisor and Mentor for the Wellcome Trust N4ward Clinical PhD Scheme, and the West Yorkshire NIHR Rheumatology Academic Training Programme Director for Academic Clinical Lectureships. I am currently supervising four, 4th year medical students through their Extended Student-led Research or Evaluation Projects (ESREP).  Two students are developing a database of information related to patients with Behçet’s syndrome, and two students are developing a care pathway as part of a service evaluation for giant cell arteritis within Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Postgraduate research opportunities: I welcome enquiries from all motivated and qualified applicants who are interested in PhD study in my field. I have previously supervised seven BSc, two MD and seven PhD student projects to completion. My current PhD students are: Eleanor Foy (writing up); Padiporn Limumpornpetch (year 3); Philip Brown (year 2 at the University of Newcastle) and Lisa Duff (year 1).

Research groups and institutes

  • Discovery and Translational Science
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://medicinehealth.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>