Centre for Inflammation Research

Dr Sofia Ferreira

We aim to revolutionize the current perception of ageing -as an inevitable process- and provide new tools to increase regeneration and promote greater ''health span'' for the next generation.

Dr Sofia Ferreira

Chancellor's Fellow and UKRI-Future Leaders Fellow

Contact details

Group Members

  • Madita Buch (visiting scientist)
  • Maxym Besh (MSc student)
  • Rocco Zheng (MSc student)
  • Karen Ching (PhD student)


The UK population is ageing. 12.3 million people were aged 65 or over in 2019. By 2066 this number is estimated to reach 20.4 million. These rates follow the overall worldwide ageing trend in which the global population aged 60 years is projected to reach nearly 2100 million. We are living longer than at any time in human history, but at the cost of developing a plethora of age-associated conditions for which we have no cure.

I want to combat age-onset disease by targeting one of its main molecular mechanism: cellular senescence. My research program aims to dissect the effects of senescence in disease and regeneration, to improve the quality of life and promote greater ‘health span’ for the next generation.

Research Overview

Senescence and Regeneration

Senescent cells accumulate in aged skin and other epithelia, increasing inflammation and promoting tissue damage. In skin, the inevitable consequence of ageing is that older skin becomes less efficient at repair and is more susceptible to damage and disease. This reality of ageing has been documented since World War I, with the observation that wounds heal more slowly in older soldiers whereas the fetus heals cutaneous wounds without a scar. We aim to understand where senescence starts, how it starts, and what interventions are the most suitable to improve skin regeneration during ageing.

Identifying novel targets to accelerate regeneration:

The African spiny mouse can shed up to 60% of their back skin to avoid predation. However, unlike other mammals, the spiny mouse can regrow the skin, muscle, cartilage and even hair, with minimal signs of fibrosis, making this a unique and valuable model to understand non-scarring regeneration. We aim to understand which pathways are responsible for this fibrosis-free healing and apply the results to improve regeneration in humans.

Diagnostics for senescence

Defining WHEN to target a condition is equally as important as the treatment itself. We aim to detect senescence biosignatures, to determine the best interventions and therapeutic window of opportunity.

To learn more about this project, please visit http://sensibile.co.uk/

Biographical Profile

2017-2023        Postdoctoral researcher, Forbes’ lab University of Edinburgh, UK

2013-2017        PhD, ‘Paracrine cellular senescence exacerbates biliary injury and impairs regeneration’ Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine program, University of Edinburgh, UK

2013                    MSc Biomedical Research, University of Navarra, Spain

2004-2009         BS Biotechnology, University of Salamanca, Spain

Recent Publications

(1) Ferreira-Gonzalez S, Man TY, Kilpatrick A,…, Forbes SJ. Senolytic treatment preserves biliary regenerative capacity lost through cellular senescence during cold storage. Science Translational Medicine, 2022

(2) Hallett JM*, Ferreira-Gonzalez S*, Man TY, …, Forbes SJ. Human biliary epithelial cells from unused donor livers rescue bile duct structure and function in a mouse model of biliary disease. Cell Stem Cell, 2022.  * Both authors collaborated equally.

(3) Ferreira-Gonzalez S, Rodrigo-Torres D, Gadd VL, Forbes SJ.  Cellular senescence in liver disease and regeneration. Review article. Sem Clin Liver Dis. 2020

(4) Ferreira-González S, Lu W-Y, Dwyer B, Raven A, Man T-Y, …, Forbes SJ. Cellular senescence exacerbates injury and impairs regeneration in biliary disease. Nature Communications, 2018.

(5) Raven A, Lu W-Y, Man T-Y, Ferreira-Gonzalez S, O'Duibhir E, ..., Forbes SJ.  Cholangiocytes act as facultative liver stem cells during impaired hepatocyte regeneration. Nature, 2017

Honours and Awards

2022     Converge Kickstart Challenge Runner up, Converge Challenge, Scotland, UK

2019     IRR Early Career Innovator Award, University of Edinburgh, UK

2015     Deanery Funding Challenge, University of Edinburgh, UK

2013     Principal’s Career Development PhD Scholarship, University of Edinburgh, UK

Lab Alumni

  • Dr Hannah Esser (PhD Student 2018-2022, co-supervised with Prof Stuart Forbes) - Current position: transplant surgeon at Innsbruck Medical University
  • Annelijn Speel (MSc student SUMA Degree 2021-2023, co-supervised with Prof Stuart Forbes) - Current position: finishing her medicine degree
  • Kayla Wang (MSc Student 2022, co-supervised with Prof Till Bachmann) - Current position: PhD Student at Bachmann’s lab.
  • Amanda Johnson (MSc student 2022) - Current position: PhD student McMaster University
  • Angus Comerford (MSc student 2022) -Current position: PhD student Forbes’ lab.
  • Franklin Lo (MSc student 2020-2021, co-supervised with Prof Stuart Forbes) - Current position: PhD student Cambridge University


  • LifeArc Pathfinder
  • ESOT PhD fellowship (awarded to Madita Buch)
  • UKRI-Future Leaders Fellowship
  • LEO Foundation

Other Responsibilities