Ivan Wall is a Lecturer in Cell Therapy Bioprocessing at University College London, having taken up the post in April 2009. His current research aims to address the need to develop novel cell-based therapies to treat the growing number of disorders that are accompanying increased life expectancy across the globe.
He graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in Anatomical Science and subsequently completed Masters and Doctoral degrees at Cardiff University Medical School in Cell and Molecular Biology of wound repair and regeneration under the guidance of Professors Phil Stephens and David Thomas. He then undertook postdoctoral positions, firstly at UCL Eastman Dental Institute (Nov 2005 – Sept 2007) studying wound repair and regeneration and human adult stem cells, and then at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology (Oct 2007 – Mar 2009) studying developmental neuroangiogenesis before taking up his current post. Ivan was also appointed a visiting professor at Dankook University (DKU) in South Korea in Sept 2010 and has strong collaborative links there in the field of bone tissue engineering.
Ivan’s research interests focus on the therapeutic potential of human cells for treating a range of diseases, particularly those that become increasingly prevalent in later life that affect neurological, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. Throughout the adult body, stem cell populations maintain and replenish local tissues. In addition, the use of patient-specific induced pluripotent cells or directly reprogrammed cells offer considerable scope for therapeutic application. The research falls into two overarching themes: Understanding the fundamental biology that underpins candidate cell therapy production in order to enhance efficacy; and addressing the need to control bioprocess forces in order to more accurately direct cell fate determination.
In terms of understanding the fundamental biology underpinning cell therapy production, Ivan works in collaboration with Prof Anthony Mathur (London Chest Hospital) to delineate the engraftment responses of bone marrow-derived cells in order to improve their retention in heart muscle tissue after cardiac injury. Several overlapping projects are assessing the effects of pre-conditioning bone marrow-derived cells in order to improve engraftment. Collaborating with Dr Maeve Caldwell (University of Bristol) and Prof Nagy Habib (Hammersmith Hospital) he is assessing physical and molecular methods to enhance the yield of dopaminergic neurones for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.
The second research theme is aimed at understanding the impact of bioprocess forces on cell fate determination. Using scalable methods, Ivan aims to understand how bioprocess forces can be used to direct undifferentiated bone marrow cells towards a bone-forming phenotype. Leading on, work with Prof Jonathan Knowles (UCL Eastman Dental Institute) employs novel biomaterial microcarriers to address scalability and potential for bioreactor expansion and differentiation of cells for bone regeneration therapy and this work is further enhanced through internal collaboration with Dr Martina Micheletti and Prof Mike Hoare to understand the impact of cell expansion in bioreactors and the resultant shear stress can affect human cell responses. Further work at DKU also addresses scalable bone tissue engineering.
In addition, Ivan co-ordinates the research activity for the London Regenerative Medicine Initiative, funded by the UK Stem Cell Foundation and EPSRC. Further collaborations with Prof Paul Sharpe (Kings College London), Prof Martin Birchall (UCL Hospitals) and Dr Mark Lowdell (Royal Free Hospital) exist as a consequence, all aimed at fundamental and translational approaches to cell therapy production.