Dr Kerrie Smith

Profile

In 2003 I graduated from The University of Huddersfield with a first class BSc honours degree in Human biology. I went on to study for a part-time British heart foundation (BHF) funded-PhD studentship at the University of Leeds with Prof Peter Grant, Prof Robert Ariens and Prof Helen Philippou. In 2009 I graduated with a PhD in biochemistry, where I investigated blood clot formation and specifically the interaction between coagulation factor XIII and fibrinogen. I became a BHF funded postdoctoral research fellow in LICAMM in 2009-2012, during this time we fully characterised the interaction between FXIII and fibrinogen, identifying a potential target for intervention to stop these proteins binding and preventing the formation of stable blood clots. This work continued with the award of a second BHF-funded research fellow project grant (2012-2016, £167,642, Named position) to develop potential compounds to block the interaction and examine the scope for new anti-thrombotics. These projects resulted in two high impact publications in Blood (K.A.Smith, 2011, 2013). During this time I developed an interest in post-translational modifications and was awarded a BHF-PhD studentship (£97,159 Awarded to K.Smith and PJ.Grant) to investigate the effects of post-translational modifications of fibrinogen and their role in blood clot formation and clot stability. This student successfully completed her PhD in 2015 and now has gone on to develop research independence at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California.            

In 2016 I was awarded a tenured University Academic Research Fellowship at the University of Leeds. My current research focuses on investigating the role of fibrinogen in cardiovascular diseases and its link with inflammatory diseases, with the aim of identifying novel therapeutic targets for intervention. I was awarded a British Heart Foundation Project Grant (£170,317 Principle investigator) to investigate the role of fibrinogen in endothelial dysfunction. In addition, I have a specific interest in 3D bioprinting with the aim of printing human-like tissue for research purposes, aiding the likelihood of developing better more effective therapeutics, and ultimately to reduce and replace the need for animal research for experimentation. In 2017 I was awarded a Royal Society Grant (£15,000 Principle investigator) to purchase our first 3D bioprinter to develop this technology within my division. 

Responsibilities

  • Principle Investigator
  • PhD supervisor
  • Personal tutor

Research interests

Fibrinogen is the fourth most abundant plasma protein and plays a central role in maintaining health by rapidly forming blood clots to stem bleeding following injury. This fibrin clot protects us against infection, and also provides a scaffold for cell/vessel growth and stability in its role as an extracellular matrix protein. Many disease pathologies result in a dramatic increase in the levels of fibrinogen in blood, which in turn leads to more viscous and 'sticky' blood. This viscous blood increases the risk of the blood clotting, blocking blood flow to major organs of the body such as the heart or brain and ultimately leading to a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, elevated levels of fibrinogen in blood plasma have been implicated as a risk factor for the development of diseases of the circulatory system such as thrombosis, atherosclerosis, diabetes, heart disease and peripheral arterial disease. It is vital we fully understand how blood clots are formed, and equally how they degrade so we can intervene to stop individuals from developing potentially life-threatening thrombosis. Further to this, the relationship between inflammation and coagulation is now becoming more clear, with the onset of inflammation being closely followed by upregulation of coagulation proteins. My current interests investigate this link, and examines the regulatory mechanisms involved in the upregulation of coagulation in response in systemic and localised inflammation. As a medical research scientist my primary goal is to add to our scientific understanding of diseases to ultimately support the development of new therapeutics.

Qualifications

  • BSc (Hons) 1st Class Human Biology
  • PhD

Professional memberships

  • International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH)
  • British Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (BSHT)
  • International Fibrinogen Research Society (IFRS)
  • American Heart Association (AHA)

Student education

  • - Since 2016 I have been a lecturer for 1st year undergraduate medical students (MBChB degree, University of Leeds) 
  • - 2nd year personal tutor for the MBChB students.
  • - Lecturer in Healthcare Sciences 

Research groups and institutes

  • Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine
  • 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://production2.leeds.ac.uk/phd">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>