• 2.53 Bob Champion Research & Education Bldg

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Personal profile

Biography

Nikki Horwood is a molecular and cellular biologist who specializes in the loss or gain of bone mass during disease.  The loss of bone is a problem in many inflammatory diseases and there are few therapeutic options to replace bone once it has been lost. Her research focuses on the underlying cellular causes of bone loss and identification of potential therapeutic options.

She completed her PhD on cytokine control of osteoclast differentiation in 1999 at St Vincent’s Institute, University of Melbourne before undertaking work into cytokine signaling in macrophages at Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Imperial College London. Nikki established her independent research group in 2004 at Imperial College London before moving to University of Oxford with the Kennedy Institute in 2011 to continue her research into bone changes as a consequence of inflammation, increasing age and cancer.

Nikki is currently a Versus Arthritis Senior Research Fellow.  Her current research projects investigate links between bone marrow composition and multiple myeloma, inflammation-driven fracture repair, osteoblast dedifferentiation, and mechanisms of new bone formation in ankylosing spondylitis and osteoarthritis.

Career

  • Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia (2019-date)
  • Versus Arthritis - Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford (2013-2019)
  • Associate Professor of Osteoimmunology, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, University of Oxford (2014-2018)
  • University Research Lecturer, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, University of Oxford (2011-2014)
  • Lecturer in Bone Biology, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Imperial College London (2004-2011)
  • Royal Society - Howard Florey Post-doctoral Fellow, Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Imperial College London (2000-2003)
  • PhD - St. Vincent’s Institute, University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine, Australia (1999)
  • MSc - St. Vincent’s Institute, University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine, Australia (1996)
  • Research Assistant, St. Vincent’s Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia (1993-1997)
  • BSc - Genetics and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Australia (1992)
  • Research Assistant, CSIRO Division of Animal Health, Melbourne, Australia (1990-1992)
  • Research Assistant, Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia (1988-1990)

Key Research Interests and Expertise

**PhD studentships available - contact me for more details**

The prevalence of immune cells and mediators as major regulatory factors in skeletal biology has become increasingly evident in the last 20 years yet the complexity of the various interactions continues to provide challenges for immunologists and bone biologists world-wide.  Osteoimmunology seeks to define the roles and interactions of immune cells with skeletal cells and to identify shared pathways and signalling molecules.  By understanding these interactions and mediators, my lab aims to apply this clinically for the treatment of bone cancers and metastases, inflammatory arthritis, osteoporosis, and periodontitis.

Current Research Questions

  1. Determining the role of natural killer cells in the initiation of autoimmunity.
  2. How inflammation can cause both bone destruction and bone formation in ankylosing spondylitis?
  3. How the tissue repair cycle is initiated and what happens if it fails to switch off?  What are the roles of different macrophage subsets in bone turnover?
  4. What factors control bone marrow cell fate and their correlation to disease susceptibility in the aged?
  5. Are there ways to reprogram bone forming osteoblasts to produce more bone?
  6. Altering the bone microenvironment in bone marrow cancers to reduce disease burden and preserve bone architecture.
  7. How to separate the anti-inflammatory properties of glucocorticoids from their adverse effects on bone destruction?
  8. Ways to speed fracture repair in healthy and osteoporotic bone

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

Award Date: 1 Dec 1999

Master in Science, University of Melbourne

Award Date: 2 Dec 1996

Bachelor of Science, University of Melbourne

Award Date: 1 Dec 1992

Network

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