This work at the University of Birmingham, UK, will be supervised by Prof Adrian Heagerty and other senior EB experts and lead to a PhD qualification for Dr Ajoy Bardhan in the specific area of EB wound healing. It is vital to train new specialists in EB research so that important research projects, involving patients and laboratory science, continue to develop. Dr Bardhan’s projects will explore new treatments for scarring and interventions to improve quality of life. 


Grant Title: DEBRA Clinical Fellow

Investigators: Professor Adrian Heagerty and Dr Ajoy Bardhan

Institution: Department of Dermatology, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust

Start Date: 01/09/2019 for 4 years

Grant amount:  £125,263.24


Professor Adrian Heagerty, Adult EB Lead at Solihull Hospital, together with Professor Iain Chapple, Professor of Periodontology and Restorative Dentistry at University of Birmingham will be supervisors for Dr Ajoy Bardhan as he undertakes his MD thesis exploring multiple aspects of wound healing in EB. Combining clinical work and basic science research will provide him with hands-on experience to undertake future patient-focused and academic work in EB. Dr Bardhan will be involved in a range of projects with the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing and Institute of Clinical Sciences. The University of Birmingham has recently established a Centre for Scar Research, exploring new therapeutics to reduce scarring, with the Institute of Bioengineering developing new delivery models. The School for Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences are also keen to explore interventions to improve quality of life in EB. Projects across these centres will provide Dr Bardhan with a comprehensive background in current EB research.

He will also be supervised by Professors Logan, Metcalfe and Grover within the Institute of Bioengineering at the University of Birmingham with supervision from Dr Lisa Hill, who will support Dr Bardhan in analysing scarring, wound healing and cancer using a model in the laboratory, and Drs Melissa Grant, Sarah Kuehne and Josefine Hirschfield in exploring microbial-immune interplay in EB wounds.

DEBRA is already funding a project with Professor Chapple (Characterisation of the skin microbiome and investigation of neutrophil function in Epidermolysis Bullosa patients) and Dr Bardhan will actively complete molecular analysis of tissue samples as part of this project, to further characterise the inflammatory responses.

Dr Bardhan will also be employed through the Institute of Clinical Science as a Clinical Lecturer/Honorary Consultant Dermatologist in the Department of Dermatology at Solihull Hospital, undertaking in general dermatology and EB clinics funded by the NHS.

What is important about this research?

The development of a new Academic Dermatology post in the University of Birmingham will set the stage for developing novel research programmes with anticipated translational benefits and enhancement of clinical support for patients with EB at this centre, in particular taking advantage of cutting edge facilities in inflammation research and the reduction and prevention of scarring, ensuring a clear and continuing focus on EB into the future.

Whilst a huge amount of research continues into gene therapy, the EB community has clearly identified wound healing as an area of focus where advances in basic science research could be more readily and rapidly translated into improvements in quality of life for patients, via reduction of inflammation, scarring and fibrosis. We are fortunate in Birmingham to now have a number of facilities dedicated to exploration and amelioration of these very processes, and the establishment of links between world-class researchers, the EB clinic and wider EB community is starting to bear fruit and will hopefully bring real benefits for our patients in the near future.

Dr Ajoy Bardhan

Investigator Biographies:

Professor Adrian H M Heagerty Bsc (Hons), MBBS, MRCP, MD, FRCP

Professor Adrian H M Heagerty BSc (Hons), MBBS, MRCP, MD, FRCP

Appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Birmingham Skin Hospital in 1995, the opportunity arose in 1998 to start a new department of dermatology at Solihull Hospital, part of Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and now University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. Professor Heagerty has links with the research community in Epidermolysis Bullosa and Pachyonychia Congenita. In his work as senior registrar, he was able to identify families with EB Simplex, (EBS) which resulted in the determination of the underlying abnormality in EBS. Combined with work in Junctional and Dystrophic forms of EB, and latterly as lead for the NHS England half national adult service for such patients, Professor Heagerty was able to work closely with Prof WHI McLean, in the University of Dundee, exploring new technologies to inhibit gene expression, using the EB model as a paradigm. Professor Heagerty was appointed as Honorary Professor of Dermatology at The University of Birmingham, with sessions in the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, working with Professor Chris Buckley, Kennedy Professor of Rheumatology, to explore the initiation of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthropathy, and with Professor Janet Lord and her colleagues examining the inflammatory responses and scarring in Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa.

Dr Ajoy Bardhan BSc, MBBS, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

Dr Ajoy Bardhan BSc, MBBS, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

Ajoy is a Clinical Lecturer at the University of Birmingham and Honorary Consultant Dermatologist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust. Following undergraduate studies at Imperial College London and general professional training in Cambridge, he moved to Birmingham to pursue specialist training in Dermatology. His first post was at Solihull Hospital, where he returned to undertake a fellowship in EB under the auspices of the half-national highly specialised service led by Professor Heagerty, augmented by laboratory training at DGEM, under Professor McLean. Further experience within EB came as registrar at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He combines clinical work with basic scientific research exploring multiple aspects of wound healing in EB, benefitting from excellent facilities, collaborators, and supervision from Professors Chapple and Heagerty.