MRC Centre for Inflammation Research
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Dr Robert Gray

Robert Gray studies the role of calprotectin in inflammatory lung disease, with particular emphasis on cystic fibrosis and neutrophil NETosis.

Dr Robert Gray

NRS Senior Clinical Fellow & Honorary Consultant Respiratory Physician

  • MRC Centre for Inflammation Research
  • Research Theme: Immune Modulation and Regulation of Inflammation

Contact details

Group Members

  • Gareth Hardisty - Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Sheonagh Law - Wellcome Clinical Training Fellow and Speciality Registrar in Respiratory Medicine
  • Jonny Gillan - PhD student

Background

The Gray group studies inflammation in Cystic Fibrosis (CF).  Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a devastating, life-limiting, autosomal recessive condition characterized by chronic lung infection and progressive, destructive, inflammatory lung disease and early death.   The inflammatory process in CF is poorly understood, underlined by the relative lack of any specific anti-inflammatory treatment.  Chronic infection in CF drives unresolving inflammation and progressive loss of lung function leading to respiratory failure. Although genetically defined by the loss of cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) chloride channel activity on epithelial cells, the links between this abnormality, infection and inflammation have remained elusive.

Recent Discoveries

  • Levels of calprotectin in blood predict clinical outcome in CF patients.
  • Neutrophil apoptosis is delayed in CF and allows neutrophils to die more readily by NET formation promoting inflammation.
  • Macrophages from new born CF pigs (a model of early CF) have a pro-inflammatory phenotype.

Research Overview

We are interested in how inflammation can be targeted as a way of treating and monitoring CF. Before we can develop treatments we have to understand the role of inflammation in CF properly and at the moment we are investigating several areas:

1. The role of Calprotectin as an inflammatory mediator and biomarker of CF

2. Abnormal neutrophil function and NETosis in CF

3. Abnormal macrophage function in CF

We are also interested in how some of these processes may be releavent to other respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic lung infection.

Biographical Profile

Robert Gray is a Senior Clinical Lecturer and NRS Scottish Senior Clinical Fellow and has been actively involved in CF research since 2004, having initially conducted a Cystic Fibrosis Trust funded PhD investigating inflammatory biomarkers in CF (PhD awarded University of Edinburgh 2010). He also works as a Consultant Physician (MB ChB 1998, MRCP 2001, CCT 2011) in the Scottish National CF service based in Edinburgh with a particular clinical interest in CF exacerbation, mucolytic therapies and new disease modifying therapies, acting as a PI and sub–PI on industry led studies. Initially funded by a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellowship, he established a research group in the Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh, investigating inflammation biology in CF. During 2013-2015 he spent 20 months in the world leading CF research centre at the University of Iowa with Professor Paul B McCray Jnr, studying inflammation in the CF pig model.  The award of a NRS Scottish Senior Clinical Fellowship followed in 2016 and has allowed consolidation of the group and established a platform for future work in the field of CF inflammation in Edinburgh.

Honours and Awards

  • NRS/Universities Scottish Senior Clinical Fellowhsip, 2016
  • Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Fellowship, 2010
  • ERS travelling fellowship, 2010
  • Methven Prize, The Scottish Thoracic Society, 2004
  • Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland studentship award, 1996

Alumni

  • Annie MacKellar, Technician
  • Kate Regan, BSc Hons student
  • Georgia Lanning, BSc Hons student

Public Engagement

Actively involved in public engagement. Examples below.

  • Public engagement event "Bright Club" for MRC Centenary Celebrations, June 2013
  • Public engagement event "65 Roses" for CF Trust with charitable donors, September 2016
  • Radio Scotland interview to discuss research publication, October 2017

Other Responsibilities

Member of the Royal College of Physicians, The British Thoracic Society, European Respiratory Society and The European Cystic Fibrosis Society.

Collaborators

Local:

National:

  • Professor Jane Davies, Imperial College London
  • Dr Damian Downey, Queen's University Belfast
  • Professor Cliff Taggart, Queen's University Belfast

International:

  • Professor Paul McCray, Carver College of Medicine, Iowa
  • Professor David Stoltz, Carver College of Medicine, Iowa
  • Dr Pradeep Singh, Seattle Children's Hospital
  • Professor Ed McKone, University College Dublin

 

Sources of Funding

Wellcome Trust

More information on funding at Robert Gray's Research Explorer profile.