Institute of Immunity and Transplantation


David Abraham

Professor of Cell & Molecular Biology

Research area

Cell and molecular biology of tissue repair, the genetic mechanisms underlying tissue scarring and fibrosis, cell signalling and the identification of drug discovery targets, and the development and use of in vivo systems as pre-clinical models to study the pathogenesis and treatment of connective tissue diseases.

Research programme

Research summary

Our main research focus is centred on the autoimmune/rheumatic connective tissue disease spectrum scleroderma (SSc), which has four components: blood vessel damage, inflammation, autoimmunity and tissue scarring, leading to widespread and organ-specific fibrosis.

The majority of our work, as a group, is aimed at understanding the genetic, epigenetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie these processes with a clear translational focus to identify candidates, which can be developd into new and more effective treatments for patients.

Major research interests of the centre focus on understanding the molecular and cell biology of connective tissue diseases, including tissue repair and remodeling processes, degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis), and the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying tissue scarring and replacement fibrosis (scleroderma). We pioneered the development and use of in vivo systems of human disease (transgenic and genetically modified conventional and conditional knock-out mice) as pre-clinical models to investigate disease pathogenesis and also discovery and validation programmes.

Our research programme uses tissue biopsies and in vitro systems to investigate critical mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, utilising control and patient-derived tissues and cells and in vivo models. Key regulatory pathways are examined, leading to a better understanding of disease pathogenesis, and improved management and treatment of connective tissue diseases.

The Centre uses a translational approach to biomedical research. Basic science discoveries lead to large clinical programmes in scleroderma at the Royal Free Hospital, where a team-based environment co-ordinates multidisciplinary care for more than 1500 patients. The Centre also contains large specialist pulmonary hypertension (PAH) and Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) clinics incorporated within the connective tissue diseases service.


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