Meet the PROMISE team

Our research team is comprised of world class microbiologists, scientists and researchers.

Prof Debbie ShawcrossChief Investigator

Group Head: Immunobiology of Chronic Liver Failure, Liver Sciences Research Synopsis: Patients with cirrhosis are predisposed to developing an infection which is frequently a precipitant of multiorgan failure and death. With poor outcomes following sepsis, the propagation of multidrug-resistant bacterial species and increasing waiting list mortality for liver transplantation, there is an urgent need for novel approaches to reducing the rate of infection. Paradoxically, these patients are characterised by heightened immune activity and rigorous inflammatory processes and are unable to contend with infection, suggesting that whilst these immune effectors are primed, their antibacterial effector functions are switched off. The precise mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon remain unknown but are suggestive of a skewed homeostatic balance between protective anti-pathogen immunity and host-induced immunopathology.

The aims of my research programme are to characterise the cellular and molecular mechanisms governing this predisposition to infection focusing on the intimate relationship between innate immune dysfunction and the gut-liver-brain axis. A dysfunctional gut microbiome plays a key role in patients with cirrhosis by influencing the rate of progression to terminal liver failure and a major goal for my group is to develop interventions which normalise the gut microbiome reducing the development of complications and liver failure. I consider myself at the forefront of this field of research and am a national and international key opinion leader on hepatic encephalopathy. I am the chief investigator of several key therapeutic clinical trials in the field including RIFSYS [NCT02019784] and PROFIT [NCT02862249].

Dr Lindsey EdwardsCo-investigator and Research Director

Lyndsey's academic career began on completing a Ph.D at UCL, investigating the role of the gut-microbiota in the aetiology of Crohn’s disease. I have completed Postdocs in mucosal immunology at the Institute of Child Health and at The Rayne Institute at UCL; before joining King’s College London in 2012. My research interests are in mucosal barrier immunology, host-microbe interactions, and subsequent priming of adaptive immune responses. Investigating how these interactions go awry as a pathogenic cofactor in intestinal & liver diseases.

Dr Vishal PatelCo-investigator and lead clinical site Principal Investigator

Vishal’s clinical sessions include delivery of care for patients with all types and severities of liver diseases, with a particular interest in advanced chronic liver disease and portal hypertensive complications. He is skilled in managing refractory variceal bleeding, is a JAG accredited endoscopy trainer and is dedicated to improving the outcomes of patients with cirrhosis by advancing standards of care and undertaking translational clinical trials. Vishal is also a Principal Investigator at the Foundation for Liver Research, focusing on investigating the gut-liver axis in cirrhosis in order to develop novel therapeutic interventions that can target these areas.

Dr Simon GoldenbergCo-investigator

Dr Simon Goldenberg is a Consultant Microbiologist and Infection Control Doctor at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Reader in Clinical Microbiology at King’s College London. He is the Chief Investigator for the FERARO trial, which is studying whether FMT can be helpful in patients with antibiotic resistant bacteria.
In 2015 he established an FMT programme to treat patients with recurrent Clostridioides difficile Infection (CDI) and developed an FMT donor bank using liquid and capsule preparations, which obtain an MHRA license in 2018
He is a member of the British Society of Gastroenterology Gut Microbiota for Health Expert Panel. He has co-authored the National and European guidelines on FMT Gut. 2018 Nov;67(11):1920-1941. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2018-316818. United European Gastroenterol J. 2021 Mar;9(2):229-247. doi:10.1177/2050640620967898.
Hi as an assistant editor of the Journal of Hospital Infection and Infectious Disease Reports.

Manmita RaiTrial Manager

Manmita is a highly qualified and confident Clinical Trialist, Dietitian, Public Health Researcher & PRINCE2 UK Practitioner with a strong research interest in Public Health, Disease Epidemiology and Project Management. Proficient in the use of statistical tools (STATA, SPSS & NVIVo) and possess excellent knowledge in the field of Clinical Trial Management (including processes involved with regulatory authorities - HRA, MHRA, REC, PBPP, CAG). Have successfully managed, coordinated and delivered multiple Single as well as Multi-Centre Clinical Trials (cTIMP & non-cTIMP; Feasibility, Pilot & RCTs) in complex disease conditions within NHS, academia and 3rd party sectors (NHS Digital and GP data care providers).

Angela CapeTrial Pharmacist

Angela is a Clinical Trials Pharmacist at the King’s Clinical Trials Unit (KCTU). Her role is to primarily support Chief Investigators with the management of investigational medicinal products (IMP) for blinded drug trials. This is achieved through the development of IMP management plans, liaising with manufacturers to ensure timely availability of the IMP and placing IMP orders for sites. My main role is ensure continuity of IMP supply to sites through regular unblinded monitoring of the KCTU intervention management system. I also support the development and review of IMP documents for the pharmacy file.

Dr Ben CarterSenior Trial Statistician

Ben is the King’s Clinical trials unit (KCTU) mental health group lead, and has been involved running clinical trials for over 20 years. He has personal interests in the evaluation of technology on health and is the methodological lead on 10 clinical trials.

Ben holds a BSc in Statistics from Reading University, MSc in Medical Statistics from Southampton University (2001) and PhD from Reading University (2005).

Professor Mark Thursz Co-investigator and Senior Trial Mentor

Mark Thursz is professor of hepatology at Imperial College and consultant in hepatology at St Mary's Hospital, London. His clinical interests are in viral hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease and fatty liver disease. He is currently interested in developing programmes for treatment of chronic hepatitis B infection in resource poor settings to reduce the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Professor Thursz' research interests are focussed on the natural history of viral hepatitis and fatty liver disease and the factors which determine chronic infection and progressive liver disease. He has a special interest in the genetic determinants of disease outcomes using genetic association and genome wide scanning to identify causative variants.

Professor Thursz is chief investigator on two multi-centre trials: The warfarin anticoagulation for liver fibrosis in patients transplanted for hepatitis C (WAFT-C) trial and the steroids or pentoxifylline for alcoholic hepatitis (STOPAH) trial.

Professor Thursz is a former secretary of the British Association for Study of the Liver (BASL) and is currently vice-secretary of the European Association for Study of the Liver. In this role he has special responsibility for EU policy and advocacy in Brussels.

Dr Thomas TranahMRC Clinical Research Fellow

I am a senior registrar in Hepatology in South London and am currently undertaking out-of-programme research experience as an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellow to complete my PhD.

The aims of my research are to characterise the cellular and molecular mechanisms governing this predisposition to infection focusing on the intimate relationship between innate immune dysfunction and the gut-liver axis. My research interest is in exploring how changes in commensal bacteria control circulating mucosa-associated invariant T cell frequency, phenotype, and T-cell receptor repertoire stability in longitudinal ex vivo models of dysbiosis before and after manipulation of the enteric microbiome.

Vanessa HebditchPPI Co-applicant, Patient Advocate and Dissemination Lead

Vanessa joined the British Liver Trust in September 2015 having worked previously as a freelance communications professional for a variety of clients across the public, private and voluntary sectors. She has experience in managing and leading across all aspects of communication and policy work.

She spent 10 years at the British Diabetic Association, where she repositioned diabetes as a serious health condition. Her work culminated in managing the communications function and leading the rebrand and name change to Diabetes UK. Her past career also included working as a senior communications manager for the Department of Health’s, Modernisation Agency. This included 6 months as the Acting Director of Communications, where she worked on a complex change programme, organisation design structure and the communication work stream for the establishment of the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement.