Dr Ann B. Vernallis

Dr Ann B. Vernallis

Senior Lecturer in Cell Biology

School of Life and Health Sciences
Aston University
Aston Triangle
Birmingham B4 7ET

Research Group

Cell & Tissue Biomedical Research 

Research Centre

Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA) 


Member of the Pharmacy and Biology Teaching Programmes


I joined the School of Life & Health Sciences as a Lecturer in 2008. Prior to coming to Aston, I was a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. John K. Heath at the University of Oxford and later at the University of Birmingham. My work focused on cytokines. In particular, I worked on the characterisation of Leukemia Inhibitory Factor Receptor (LIF-R) antagonists.

Before studying cytokines, I studied ion channels in the nervous system. I earned my PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Darwin K. Berg within the neurobiology group of the Biology Department at the University of California at San Diego. My thesis addressed the subunit composition of neuronal nicotinic receptors.

Qualifications & Education

  • Summer student, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Colorado, USA, 1983

  • B.S., Biology (top 5%) Stanford University, Standford, California, USA.

  • PhD., Neurobiology Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA, 1992

  • Professional Certificate in Teaching and Learning Aston University Birmingham, United Kingdom - Accreditation as a Teacher in Higher Education awarded by Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA), 2000


Teaching activity

As of October 2012, I am Programme Director for the BSc programmes in Biology and Biomedical Science and the MBiol. I primarily teach on the Biomedical Sciences and Biology Programmes. In the first year of the undergraduate programmes, I teach Cell Biology and Developmental Biology. In the second year, I teach Endocrinology (signal transduction), Molecular Pathology, and Molecular Genetics (including Bioinformatics). In the final year, I teach options in Cell Biology (including cell culture) and supervise final year projects. I also contribute to the MSc in Biomedical Sciences.

Research interests

My main interest is in cytokines and other mediators of inflammation. I collaborate with Prof Peter Lambert and others on the host response to bacteria infection and the therapeutic potential of tetracyclines to reduce inflammation.

Recent research funding

  • Technology Strategy Board (£372,718)  “Project SABRINA (Sepsis Alert Biomarkers Resolved In a Novel Assay)”, 2012.  Joint project with Mologics Inc, Ig Innovations Inc, Queen Elisabeth Hospital, and Prof. Lambert and Dr. Worthington

  • Alzheimer’s Research Trust (£25,261) “Versatile Stem Cell Model of Alzheimer’s disease”, (2009)  Pilot grant in collaboration with Prof. M. Coleman, Dr. Hill, Dr. Parri, and Dr. Devitt

  • Wyeth (£30,000) "Molecular characterisation of the anti-inflammatory activity of tigecycline compared to other tetracyclines", 2008. Joint project with Prof. Lambert and Prof. Griffiths.

PhD supervision

Mr. Christopher Dunston, 'Anti-inflammatory effects of tetracyclines: a proteomic approach' (2008).

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Society of Biology
  • Higher Education Academy (Fellow)
  • International Cytokine Society

  • Biochemical Society

  • British Society for Cell Biology

Recent Publications

  • Albert, H. B., Lambert, P., Rollason, J., Sorensen, J. S., Worthington, T., Pedersen, M. B., Nørgaard, H. S., Vernallis, A., Busch, F., Manniche, C. & Elliott, T. (2013).  Does nuclear tissue infected with bacteria following disc herniations lead to Modic changes in the adjacent vertebrae?  European Spine Journal. 22, 4, 690-696 
  • Kolamunne, R. T., Dias, I. H. K., Vernallis, A. B., Grant, M. M. & Griffiths, H. R. (2013).  Nrf2 activation supports cell survival during hypoxia and hypoxia/reoxygenation in cardiomyoblasts; the roles of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.  Redox Biology. 1, 1, 418-426
  • Rollason, J., McDowell, A., Albert, H. B., Barnard, E., Worthington, T., Hilton, A. C., Vernallis, A., Patrick, S., Elliott, T. & Lambert, P. (2013).  Genotypic and antimicrobial characterisation of Propionibacterium acnes isolates from surgically excised lumbar disc herniations.  BioMed Research International. 7 530382
  • Dunston CR, Griffiths HR, Lambert PA, Staddon S, Vernallis AB. (2011) Proteominc analysis of the anti-inflammatory action of minocycline.  Proteomics. 11(1):42-51.
  • Jazayeri JA, Upadhyay A, Vernallis AB, Carroll GJ. (2010) Targeting the glycoprotein 130 receptor subunit to control pain and inflammation. J Interferon Cytokine Research. 30(12):865-73.
  • Jazayeri, J.A., Carroll, G.J., Vernallis, A.B. (2009) Interleukin-6 subfamily cytokines and rheumatoid arthritis: Role of antagonists. International Immunopharmacology.  10(1):1-8.
  • Chobotova K, Vernallis, A.B., Majid F.A. (2009) Bromelain's activity and potential as an anti-cancer agent: Current evidence and perspectives.  Cancer Letters. 290(2):148-56.
  • Hill, EJ, Vernallis AB (2008) Polarized Secretion of Leukemia Inhibitory Factor, BMC Cell Biol. 2008 Sep 18;9:53.
  • Watkin RW, Harper LV, Vernallis AB, Lang S, Lambert PA, Ranasinghe AM, Elliott TSJ (2007)
    Pro-inflammatory cytokines IL6, TNF-alpha, IL1 beta, procalcitonin, lipopotysaccharide binding protein and C-reactive protein in infective endocarditis Journal of Infection 55 (3) 220-225
  • Jones, K.J., Perris, A.D., Vernallis, A.B., Worthington, T., Lambert, P.A., and Elliott, T.S. (2005). Induction of inflammatory cytokines and nitric oxide in J774.2 cells and murine macrophages by lipoteichoic acid and related cell wall antigens from Staphylococcus epidermidis.Journal of Medical Microbiology. 54 (Pt 4), 315-321.
  • Malaval, L., Liu, F., Vernallis, A.B., and Aubin, JE. (2005). GP130/OSMR is the only LIF/IL-6 family receptor complex to promote osteoblast differentiation of calvaria progenitors.
    Journal of Cellular Physiology
  • Vernallis, A.B. (2003). “Leukemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF)” in Encyclopedia of Hormones, Vol 2 pgs 578-586. Edited by Dr. H.L. Henry and Dr. A W Norman. Academic Press, San Diego.
  • Monville, C., Fages, C., Feyens, A.-M., d'Hont, V., Guillet, C., Vernallis, A., Gascan, H., and Peschanski, M. (2002). Astroglial expression of the P-glycoprotein is controlled by intracellular CNTF.
    BMC Cell Biology
    . 3:20.
  • Rowan, A.D., Koshy, P.J.T., Shingleton, W.D., Degnan, B.A., Heath, J.K., Vernallis, A.B., Spaull, J.R., Life, P.F., Hudson, K., and Cawston, T.E. (2001). Synergistic effects of glycoprotein 130 binding cytokines in combination with interleukin-1 on cartilage collagen breakdown. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 44, 1620-1632.
  • Vernallis, A.B. (2001). “Receptor Antagonists of gp130 Signaling Cytokines” in Cytokine Inhibitors, edited by G. Ciliberto and R. Savino. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York. 201-240.
  • Aubert, J., Dessolin, S., Belmonte, N., Li, M., McKenzie, F.R., Staccini, L., Villageois, P., Barhanin, B., Vernallis, A., Smith, A.G., Ailhaud, G., and Dani, C. (1999). Leukemia Inhibitory Factor and Its Receptor Promote Adipocyte Differentiation via the Mitogen-activated Protein Kinase Cascade.
    The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
    274, 24965-24972.
  • Vernallis, A.B., Hudson, K.R., and Heath, J.K., (1997). An antagonist for the leukemia inhibitory factor receptor inhibits leukemia inhibitory factor, cardiotrophin-1, ciliary neurotrophic factor, and oncostatin M.
    The Journal of Biological Chemistry
    . 272, 26947-26952.
  • Pitard, V., Taupin, J-L, Miossec, V., Blanchard, F., Cransac, M., Jollet, I., Vernallis, A., Hudson, K., Godard, A., Jacques, Y., and Moreau, J.F. (1997) Production and characterization of monoclonal antibodies against the leukemia inhibitory factor low affinity receptor, gp190. Journal of Immunological Methods. 205, 177-190.
  • Neophytou, C., Vernallis, A.B., Smith, A. and Raff M.C. (1997). Muller-cell-derived leukaemia inhibitory factor arrests rod photoreceptor differentiation at a postmitotic pre-rod stage of development. Development. 124, 2345-2354.
  • Thompson S.W.N., Vernallis, A.B., Heath, J.K., and Priestley, J.V. (1997). Leukaemia inhibitory factor is retrogradely transported by a distinct population of adult rat sensory neurons: co-localization with trkA and other neurochemical markers. European Journal of Neuroscience. 9, 1244-1251.
  • Wollert, K.C., Taga T., Saito, M., Narazaki, M., Kishimoto, T., Glembotski, C.C., Vernallis, A.B., Heath, J.K., Pennica, D., Wood, W.I., and Chien, K.R. (1996). Cardiotrophin-1 activates a distinct form of cardiac muscle cell hypertrophy. Assembly of sarcomeric units in series VIA gp130/leukemia inhibitory factor receptor-dependent pathways. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 271, 11971-11978.
  • Hudson, K.R., Vernallis, A.B., and Heath, J.K. (1996). Characterization of the receptor binding sites of human leukemia inhibitory factor and creation of antagonists. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 271, No. 20, 11971-11978.
  • Karow, J., Hudson, K.R., Hall, M.A., Vernallis, A.B., Chrisp, J.A., Gossler, A., and Heath, J.K. (1996).
    Mediation of interleukin-11-dependent biological responses by a soluble form of the interleukin-11 receptor. Biochemical Journal. 318, 489-495.
  • Robinson, R.C., Grey, L.M., Staunton, D., Vankelecom, H., Vernallis, A.B., Moreau, J-F., Stuart, D.L., Heath, J.K., and Jones, E.Y. (1994). The crystal structure and biological function of leukaemia inhibitory factor: implications for receptor binding. Cell. 77, 1101-1116.
  • Vernallis, A.B., Conroy, W.G., and Berg, D.K. (1993). Neurons assemble acetylcholine receptors with as many as three kinds of subunits while maintaining subunit segregation among receptor types.
    10, 451-464.
  • Conroy, W.G., Vernallis, A.B., and Berg, D.K. (1992). The alpha 5 gene product assembles with multiple acetylcholine receptor subunits to form distinctive receptor subtypes in brain. Neuron. 9, 679-691.


  • Rollason J, Lambert PA, Hilton AC, Worthington T, Vernallis AB, Albert HB. (2012) “Characterisation of Propionibacterium acnes isolated from intervertebral discs following discectomy.”  SFAM, Summer Conference.
  • Rollason, J, Hilton, AC, Worthington T., Vernallis, AB, Elliott T, and Lambert PA. (2009)  “Sub-inhibitory Concentrations of Tigecycline Increase the Expression of icaA in Mature Staphylococcus epidermidis Biofilm Cells”.  ICAAC. San Francisco, USA.
  • Watkin RW, Harper LV, Vernallis AB, Lang S, Lambert PA, Elliott TSJ. (2007)
    The evaluation of IL6, TNF-alpha, IL1 beta, procalcitonin, lipopolysaccharide binding protein and c-reactive protein in infective endocarditis
    Clinical Research in Cardiology
    96 (6) 413-413
  • Hill, E. and Vernallis, A. (2004). Polarity of Leukemia Inhibitory Factor Secretion. BioScience 2004 from molecules to organisms. Biochemical Society, Glasgow, U.K.
  • Liu, F., Fleschmann, V., Vernallis, A., Malaval, L. (2002). LIF, OSM et differenciation osteoblastique:effets differentiels et interactions. Journees Francaises de Biologie des Tissu Mineralsie
    Paris, France
  • Molloy, H., Worthington, T., Lambert, P.A. Vernallis, A.B., Elliott, T.S.J. (2002). The differential diagnosis of Gram-positive and Gram-negative septicaemia using an anti-lipid S Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay. 9th Conference of Federation of Infection Societies, Manchester UK.
  • Peschanski, M., Monville, C., Fages, C., d'Hondt,V., Guillet, C., Mestikawy, E.L., Vernallis, A., Gascan, H. (2001). CNTF-dependent modulation of p-glycoprotein in reactive astrocytes. Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, U.S.A.
  • Breuleux, C.D., Vernallis A.B., Perris, A.D., Stirling, A. J., Lambert, P.A., and Weller, P.H. (2000)
    The anti-inflammatory action of doxycycline, potential role in treatment of CF lung infections.
    XIIIth International Cystic Fibrosis Congress, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Rowan A.D., Koshy, PJT Shingleton, W.D., Degnan, B.A., Vernallis, A, Heath, J.K., Spaull, J.R., Life, P.F., Hudson, K., and Cawston, T.E. (2000). Synergistic effects of gp130 binding cytokines in combination with interleukin-1 on cartilage collagen breakdown. American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting. Philadelphia, U.S.A.

Dr Ann Vernallis / Aston University / last updated August 2012