Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Research Groups: Musculoskeletal Biology, Brain Health and Behaviour, CPCS (Research Programme)

Research Centres: MicroCT, Imaging Suite

Imelda is a Reader in Comparative Medicine. Her research focuses on diseases affecting humans and animals to identify common treatments. Current research falls in two areas: developmental disorders and cancer. Current projects involve using zebrafish models to investigate the role of the microbiome in neuronal development, the role of the myoepithelia and tyrosine kinase receptors in canine mammary tumourigenesis andTasmanian Devil Facial Tumour disease.

We currently have a number of projects that are using a combination of naturally occurring disease models, alongside more traditional models and in vitro techniques to investigate the molecular mechanisms of disease. These include:

1) The role of the microbiome in neuronal development. The microbiome is known to impact upon the function of neurons both in the gut and the central nervous system. However we know little of how the microbiome impacts upon neuronal development. We use germ free zebrafish embryo and larval models to investigate how the absence of the whole or components of the microbiome impact upon neuronal development and neuronal network architecture and the impact of this on embryo/larval behaviour.

2) Canine mammary tumourigenesis. Canine mammary cancer has both similarities and differences to the human disease. We are investigating a key diiference between the two - myoepithelial cell proliferation plays a protective role in canine mammary cancer but does not fulfill this function in humans. We are investigating the mechanisms that control myoepithelial cell proliferation and function in the canine in order to identify how this might be provoked in humans. A key similarity between the canine and human disease is that expression of  the cKIT tyrosine kinase receptor correlates with poor outcomes. We are investigating the function of this receptor in canine mammary cells in vitro.

3) Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease is a schwann cell derived cancer that is decimating the Tasmanian Devil population. We are collaborating with colleagues at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) and Southampton University UK to identify signalling pathways that are driving metastasis in this disease. We are interested in how genes that are known to be involved in cell migration in the embryo might also be involved in driving cell migration in this disease.

We are offering BSc and MSc projects in all of these areas so contact us for further information. Prospective MRes and PhD students are also encouraged to contact us for further information

Fetal morphological features and abnormalities associated with equine early pregnancy loss. Kahler A, McGonnell IM, Smart H, Kowalski AA, Smith KC, Wathes DC, de Mestre AM.
Equine Vet J. 2020 Aug 31

Regulation and Function of C-Type Natriuretic Peptide (CNP) in Gonadotrope-Derived Cell Lines.
Mirczuk SM, Lessey AJ, Catterick AR, Perrett RM, Scudder CJ, Read JE, Lipscomb VJ, Niessen SJ, Childs AJ, McArdle CA, McGonnell IM, Fowkes RC.
Cells. 2019 Sep 14;8(9).

Scudder, C J; Mirczuk, S M; Richardson, K Gonnell, I M; Crossley, V J; Regan, J T C; Gostelow, R; Forcada, Y; Hazuchova, K; Harrington, N; McGonnell, I M; Church, D B; Kenny, P J; Korbonits, M; Fowkes, R C; Niessen, S J M.
Pituitary pathology and gene expression in acromegalic cats.
Journal of the Endocrine Society, 3;1:181-200.  2019 

Tong, Q; McGonnell, I M; Demmers, T G M; Roulston, N; Bergoug, H; Romanini, C E; Verhelst, R; Guinebretiere, M; Eterradossi, N; Berckmans, D; Exadaktylos, V.
Effect of a photoperiodic green light programme during incubation on embryo development and hatch process.
Animal, 12;4:765-773.  2018

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with Chiari-like malformation and Syringomyelia have increased variability of spatio-temporal gait characteristics.
Olsen E, Suiter EJ, Pfau T, McGonnell IM, Matiasek K, Giejda A, Volk HA.
BMC Vet Res. 2017 Jun 6;13(1):159. doi: 10.1186/s12917-017-1077-5    

Whittaker, D E; Kasah, S; Donovan, A P A; Ellegood, J; Riegman, K L H; Volk, H A; McGonnell, I; Lerch, J P; Basson, A.
Distinct cerebellar foliation anomalies in a Chd7 haploinsufficient mouse model of CHARGE syndrome.
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics, 175C465-477, 2017

Limb proportions show developmental plasticity in response to embryo movement.
Pollard AS, Charlton BG, Hutchinson JR, Gustafsson T, McGonnell IM, Timmons JA, Pitsillides AA.
Sci Rep. 2017 Feb 6;7:41926. doi: 10.1038/srep41926.

Natriuretic peptide activation of extracellular regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) pathway by particulate guanylyl cyclases in GH3 somatolactotropes.
Jonas KC, Melrose T, Thompson IR, Baxter GF, Lipscomb VJ, Niessen SJ, Lawson C, McArdle CA, Roberson MS, McGonnell IM, Wheeler-Jones CP, Fowkes RC.
Cell Tissue Res. 2017 Apr 27. doi: 10.1007/s00441-017-2624-x. [Epub ahead of print]

The chromatin remodeling factor CHD7 controls cerebellar development by regulating reelin expression.
Whittaker DE, Riegman KL, Kasah S, Mohan C, Yu T, Sala BP, Hebaishi H, Caruso A, Marques AC, Michetti C, Smachetti ME, Shah A, Sabbioni M, Kulhanci O, Tee WW, Reinberg D, Scattoni ML, Volk H, McGonnell I, Wardle FC, Fernandes C, Basson MA.
J Clin Invest. 2017 Mar 1;127(3):874-887. doi: 10.1172/JCI83408. Epub 2017 Feb 6.

The role of embryo movement in the development of the furcula.
Pollard AS, Boyd S, McGonnell IM, Pitsillides AA.
J Anat. 2017 Mar;230(3):435-443. doi: 10.1111/joa.12571. Epub 2016 Dec 6.

Tong, Q; Romanini, C E B; Exadaktylos, V; McGonnell, I M; Berckmans, D; Bahr, C; Bergoug, H; Roulston, N; Guinebretiere, M; Eterradossi, N; Verhelst, R; Demmers, T G M.
Detection of embryo mortality and hatch using thermal differences among incubated chicken eggs.
LIVESTOCK SCIENCE, 18319-23.  2016

Quantitative Expression and Co-Localization of Wnt Signalling Related Proteins in Feline Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Giuliano, A; Swift, R; Arthurs, C; Marote, G; Abramo, F; McKay, J; Thomson, C; Beltran, M; Millar, M;, Priestnall, S; Dobson, J; Costantino-Casas, F; Petrou, T; McGonnell, I M; Davies, A J; Weetman, M; Garden, O A; Masters, J R; Thrasivoulou, C; Ahmed, A.
PLoS One. 2016 Aug 25;11(8):e0161103. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0161103. eCollection 2016. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2016;11(9):e0163838.

Tong, Q; McGonnell, I M: Romanini, C E; Bergoug, H; Roulston, N; Berckmans, D; Exadaktylos, V; Guinebretiere, M; Eterradossi, N; Garain, P; Demmers, T G M.
Effect of a photoperiodic green light program during incubation on embryo development and hatch process.
Agricultural Engineering International: CIGR Journal, 2015

Effect of species-specific sound stimulation on the development and hatching of broiler chicks.
Tong Q, McGonnell IM, Romanini CE, Bergoug H, Roulston N, Exadaktylos V, Berckmans D, Bahr C, Guinebretière M, Eterradossi N, Garain P, Demmers T.
Br Poult Sci. 2015 Apr;56(2):143-8. doi: 10.1080/00071668.2014.1000822. Epub 2015 Jan 29.

Occipital foramina development involves localised regulation of mesenchyme proliferation and is independent of apoptosis.
Akbareian SE, Pitsillides AA, Macharia RG, McGonnell IM.
J Anat. 2015 Jun;226(6):560-74. doi: 10.1111/joa.12304

Physiological status of broiler chicks at pulling time and the relationship to duration of holding period.
Tong Q, Demmers T, Romanini CE, Bergoug H, Roulston N, Exadaktylos V, Bahr C, Berckmans D, Guinebretière M, Eterradossi N, Garain P, McGonnell IM.
Animal. 2015 Jul;9(7):1181-7. doi: 10.1017/S1751731115000233. Epub 2015 Feb 25.

Bergoug, H; Guinebretiere, M; Roulston, N; Tong, Q; Romanini, C E B; Exadaktylos, V; McGonnell, I M; Demmers, T G M; Garain, P; Bahr, C; Berckmans, D; Eterradossi, N; Michel, V.
Relationships between hatch time and egg weight, embryo sex, chick quality, body weight and pododermatitis severity during broiler rearing.
European Poultry Science, 79.  2015

Shh regulates chick Ebf1 gene expression in somite development.
El-Magd MA, Allen S, McGonnell I, Mansour AA, Otto A, Patel K.
Gene. 2015 Jan 1;554(1):87-95. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2014.10.028. Epub 2014 Oct 23.

An insight into the heat and mass transfer mechanisms of eggshells hatching broiler chicks and its effects to the hatcher environment.
Romanini CE, Exadaktylos V, Hong SW, Tong Q, McGonnell I, Demmers TG, Bergoug H, Guinebretière M, Eterradossi N, Roulston N, Verhelst R, Bahr C, Berckmans D.
J Therm Biol. 2015 Feb;48:69-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jtherbio.2014.12.004. Epub 2014 Dec 9.

Higher levels of CO2 during late incubation alter the hatch time of chicken embryos.
Tong Q, McGonnell IM, Roulston N, Bergoug H, Romanini CE, Garain P, Eterradossi N, Exadaktylos V, Bahr C, Berckmans D, Demmers TG.
Br Poult Sci. 2015;56(4):503-9. doi: 10.1080/00071668.2015.1041097. Epub 2015 Jun 26.

Homologous and heterologous desensitization of guanylyl cyclase-B signaling in GH3 somatolactotropes.
Thompson IR, Mirczuk SM, Smith L, Lessey AJ, Simbi B, Sunters A, Baxter GF, Lipscomb VJ, McGonnell IM, Wheeler-Jones CP, Mukherjee A, Roberson MS, McArdle CA, Fowkes RC.
Cell Tissue Res. 2014 Feb;355(2):425-36. doi: 10.1007/s00441-013-1763-y. Epub 2013 Dec 20.


Mechanoadaptation of developing limbs: shaking a leg.
Pollard AS, McGonnell IM, Pitsillides AA.
J Anat. 2014 Jun;224(6):615-23. doi: 10.1111/joa.12171. Epub 2014 Mar 18. Review.

Effect of transportation duration of 1-day-old chicks on postplacement production performances and pododermatitis of broilers up to slaughter age.
Bergoug H, Guinebretière M, Tong Q, Roulston N, Romanini CE, Exadaktylos V, Berckmans D, Garain P, Demmers TG, McGonnell IM, Bahr C, Burel C, Eterradossi N, Michel V.
Poult Sci. 2013 Dec;92(12):3300-9. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03118.

Bjerke L, Mackay A, Nandhabalan M, Burford A, Jury A, Popov S, Bax DA, Carvalho D, Taylor KR, Vinci M, Bajrami I, McGonnell IM, Lord CJ, Reis RM, Hargrave D, Ashworth A, Workman P, Jones C. (2013) Histone H3.3 Mutations Drive Pediatric Glioblastoma through Upregulation of MYCN. Cancer Discov. 2013 Mar 28.

Sharili AS, Allen S, Smith K, Price J, McGonnell IM. (2013) Snail2 promotes osteosarcoma cell motility through remodelling of the actin cytoskeleton and regulates tumor development. Cancer Lett. 333(2):170-9.

Staines KA, Pollard AS, McGonnell IM, Farquharson C, Pitsillides AA (2013). Cartilage to bone transitions in health and disease. J Endocrinol. 219(1):R1-R12.

El-Magd MA, Allen S, McGonnell I, Otto A, Patel K. (2013) Bmp4 regulates chick Ebf2 and Ebf3 gene expression in somite development. Dev Growth Differ. 55(8):710-22.

McGonnell IM, Grigoriadis AE, Lam EW, Price JS, Sunters A. (2012) A specific role for phosphoinositide 3-kinase and AKT in osteoblasts? Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 20;3:88

Thompson IR, Chand AN, King PJ, Ansorge O, Karavitaki N, Jones CA, Rahmutula D, Gardner DG, Zivkovic V, Wheeler-Jones CP, McGonnell IM, Korbonits M, Anderson RA, Wass JA, McNeilly AS, Fowkes RC. (2012). Expression of guanylyl cyclase-B (GC-B/NPR2) receptors in normal human fetal pituitaries and human pituitary adenomas implicates a role for C-type natriuretic peptide. Endocr Relat Cancer. 19(4):497-508.

Shaw TA, McGonnell IM, Driver CJ, Rusbridge C, Volk HA. (2012). Increase in cerebellar volume in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with Chiari-like malformation and its role in the development of syringomyelia. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e33660.

McGonnell IM, Graham A, Richardson J, Fish JL, Depew MJ, Dee CT, Holland PW, Takahashi T. (2011) Evolution of the Alx homeobox gene family: parallel retention and independent loss of the vertebrate Alx3 gene. Evol Dev.13:343-51.

Bohnsack, B.L., Gallina, D., Thompson, H., Kasprick., D., Lucarelli, M.J., Dootz, G., Nelson, C., McGonnell, I.M., Kahana, A., (2011) Development of extraocular muscles require early signals from periocular neural crest and the developing eye. Archives Ophthalmol. 129:1030-41.

Sharili AS, Allen S, Smith K, Hargreaves J, Price J, McGonnell I. (2011) Expression of Snail2 in long bone osteosarcomas correlates with tumour malignancy. Tumour Biol. 32:515-26.

Thompson, H., Griffiths, JS. Jeffery, G. and McGonnell, I.M.(2010) The retinal pigment epithelium of the eye regulates the development of scleral cartilage. Dev Biol 347:40-52.

Driver, C. J., Rusbridge, C., Cross H.R., McGonnell, I. M. and Volk, H.A (2010). Relationship of Brain Parenchyma within the Caudal Cranial Fossa and Ventricle Size to Syringomyelia. J Small Animal Practice (In press)

Schmidt C, McGonnell IM, Allen S, Patel K (2008). The role of Wnt signalling in the development of somites and neural crest. Adv Anat Embryol Cell Biol.195:1-64.

Bannister R, McGonnell IM, Graham A, Thorndyke MC, Beesley PW (2008). Coelomic expression of a novel bone morphogenetic protein in regenerating arms of the brittle star Amphiura filiformis. Dev Genes Evol. 218:33-8.

Schmidt, C.*, McGonnell, I.M*#., Allen, S., Otto, A. and Patel K (2007). Wnt6 induces neural crest through the noncanonical signaling pathway. Dev Dyn: 236:2502-11. *joint 1st author. # corresponding author.

Haworth, K. E., Healy, C., McGonnell, I.M., Binns, M. and Sharpe, PT (2007). Characterisation of the genomic loci of canine Fgf-8 locus and screen for genetic variants in 4 dogs with different face types. DNA Seq. 18: 209-19.

Mount, J. G., Muzylak M., Allen, S., Althnaian, T., McGonnell, I. M., Price, J.S. (2006) Evidence that the canonical Wnt signalling pathway regulates deer antler regeneration. Dev. Dyn 235:1390-9.

McGonnell, I.M. and Fowkes, R. (2006). Fishing for gene function – endocrine modelling in zebrafish. J. Endocrinol. 189: 425-39.

Graham, A, Begbie, J. and McGonnell, I.M (2004). The significance of the cranial neural crest. Dev. Dyn. 229: 5-13.

Vermeren, M., Maro, G.S., Bron, R., McGonnell, I.M., Charnay, P., Topilko, P. and Cohen, J. (2003). Integrity of developing spinal motor columns is regulated by neural crest derivatives at motor exit points. Neuron 37: 403-415.

McGonnell, I.M. and Graham, A. (2002) Trunk neural crest has skeletogenic potential. Curr. Biol. 12: 767-771.

Walshe, J., Maroon, H., McGonnell I.M., Dickson, C. and Mason, I. (2002) Establishment of hindbrain segmental identity requires signaling by Fgf3 and Fgf8. Curr. Biol. 12: 1117-1123.

  • Cellular mechanisms of impaired neurodevelopment following early life exposure to air pollution

    UNICEF estimates that over 100 million infants worldwide are exposed to toxic air pollution. We are investigating how this alters vulnerable brain cell development during pregnancy and after birth. Air pollution is a serious common public health concern increasingly associated with morbidity and mortality and resulting in an estimated 7 million premature deaths per year. Air pollution is a mixture of several components, including particulate matter (PM) derived from traffic, fuel burning and industry. The World Health Organisation identified that over 90% of the population are exposed to levels of PM2.5 that are significantly higher than recommended levels.

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