The University of Sheffield


TRAIN Programme Management Team

Graham Hughes, Programme Manager

grahamAfter a long career in the medical devices industry I changed track in 2010 to become a consultant in European Funding, working as the UK National Contact Point for the Health Theme for 2.5 years. I was then recruited by Sheffield University to take on the role of EU Finding Support Manager in the Faculty of medicine, which I have been doing for five years, advising and supporting a wide range EU funding bids including the TRAIN ITN. When the TRAIN project became a reality I was keen to follow up the work I had done in its preparation so I now combine the Programme Manager role with my advisory one. As Programme Manager for the TRAIN project I hope to be the “glue” that holds the many different parts together and makes it run on time and on budget. I am looking forward to working in the background to smooth the way and so help Supervisors and ESRs alike achieve their objectives.



Vicky Cottam, Secretary

vickyI provide comprehensive administrative support primarily to Professor Kiss-Toth, Node Leader of Immune Programming in Disease and Ageing and 5 other Senior Academic Staff, facilitating various projects including the TRAIN project.    I also provide  in-depth administrative support for research activities, assisting with grant review, grant submissions,  University Research Management System (URMS) costings and preparation of research ethics submissions, organisation of viva examinations for Postgraduate Research Students; arrangement of visits and processes for overseas collaborators, provide support for recruitment of staff, teaching related duties, mentoring, presentations and lectures.    Maintenance of data management including current funding data and publication lists.  Develop and create electronic records/databases and run reports, purchasing and any other general secretarial duties as required.



 TRAIN Coordination and ESR Supervisory Team

Prof Endre Kiss-Toth, Professor of Cell Signalling (Project Coordinator)

endreMy main scientific interest centres around identifying novel regulators of inflammatory signal transduction, characterising their basic mechanism of action, as well as validating some of these novel genes as potential drug targets for therapeutic intervention in chronic inflammatory diseases.

Much of our recent work has been focussing on studying the biological importance of the tribbles family of pseudokinases in cell types that are relevant to the development of cardiovascular disease. With our global network of collaborators, we aim to understand the importance of tribbles in cell biology, both in health and disease.


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Dr Heather Wilson

heatherMy research background has centred around a curiosity driven interest in cell signalling. This has taken me into research projects on calcium signalling (D.Phil., Univ. of Oxford) and P2X receptor-gated ion channels (post-doctoral research post, Biomedical Science, Univ. of Sheffield) to identifying P2X7 receptor interacting proteins involved in the secretion of the cytokine, interleukin-1beta that drives inflammation. I am currently a lecturer within the Department of Cardiovascular Science. My research interests link cellular mechanisms of inflammation to cardiovascular disease. An overarching question relates to how the immune response drives both atherogenesis and susceptibility to atherosclerotic plaque rupture, given the increased risk of myocardial infarction or stroke over the four weeks following exposure to systemic infections including pneumonia. We have assessed the contribution of early pro-inflammatory signals at the arterial endothelium, by circulating monocytes and arterial wall macrophages. At the endothelium level we have studied the influence of shear stress on P2X receptor activity and the inflammatory response, as well as the role of up-regulated IL-1beta detected in human arterial endothelial cells with pathological atherosclerosis. We have a long-standing interest in understanding how the “leaderless” cytokine IL-1beta is secreted, in particular by human monocytes and how this is differentially regulated in monocyte subsets. We have studied the role of microvesicular IL-1beta secretion and assessed the delivery of microvesicles to the endothelium using live in vivo zebrafish models in addition to primary human cell co-culture models. More recently we have been investigating the role of arterial wall macrophage phenotypes in their cytokine responsiveness and lipid handling mechanisms

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Early Stage Researchers

Chiara Niespolo (IT)  ESR Project 13


I was born on June 17, 1991 in a little town in the South of Italy, Avellino. After attending the Classical Lyceum in my hometown, in 2010 I moved to Siena, Tuscany, where I started college. I have   a Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology and a Master’s Degree in Medical Biotechnologies, both from the University of Siena, where I graduated with honours in October 2015. During these years, I developed a great passion for scientific research. I have had the opportunity to attend two different laboratories of Molecular and Cellular Biology for thesis research, where I worked together with PhD students and Post-Doc Researchers. During this time, I learnt invaluable skills working in the laboratory environment. After completing my studies, I decided to attend a voluntary internship period in a laboratory of Human Genetics to improve my technical abilities and to further my knowledge in this area. My goal was to achieve the right skills and have enough experience to be able to start a PhD program in Europe.

I choose to apply for the MSC-TRAIN program because I really felt that it was an important opportunity for me to grow professionally and personally and to start making my way in the world of research. I was immediately fascinated by this project, because of the involvement of microRNAs and Bioinformatics, as well as TRIBBLES proteins which play a crucial role in many human diseases. Moreover, I have always had a special interest in learning and using Bioinformatics especially as this has become really necessary in research over the past few years. I am definitely glad to be part of this Research Network and I will do my best to contribute to a step change in our understanding of biological mechanisms underlying human diseases.

Laura Martinez (ES)  ESR Project 3


My educational background includes a BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Rovira i Virgili University), a BSc in Applied Bioscience (University of the West of Scotland) and a MSc degree in Molecular Biomedicine (Autonomous University of Madrid).

I have a keen interest in studying the inflammatory signaling pathway and its cross-talk with pathological responses as it occurs in cancer or cardiovascular disease. I have been working in that field during my BSc final year project and MSc project, in which I developed technical abilities along with other scientific research skills.

I will do my best to reach all the goals the TRAIN project expects from us and at the same time, I am committed to seizing this as a key opportunity of personal development and professional growth.