Peter Barlow

Peter Barlow

Dr Peter Barlow BSc (Hons) PhD FHEA FRSB

Associate Professor of Immunology & Infection / Director of Research, School of Applied Sciences


Dr. Peter Barlow BSc (Hons) PhD FHEA FRSB is Associate Professor of Immunology and Infection, and Director of Research of the School of Applied Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, UK.

Peter graduated with a PhD from Edinburgh Napier in 2004 with a thesis that examined the effects of nanoparticles on macrophage mediated clearance mechanisms in the lungs, under the direction of Prof. Vicki Stone. In 2005, he took up a post in the MRC / University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research to work in the laboratory of Dr. Donald Davidson as part of the Lung Inflammation Group. It was in this role that he developed an interest in the immunomodulatory activities of Cationic Host Defence Peptides (CHDP) and the ways in which they could influence cell death pathways in the context of acute infection and inflammation.

In 2009, Peter moved to the United States, where he worked within the Influenza Division of the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. In CDC he developed expertise in handling highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses and took part in the global response to the 2009 novel H1N1 pandemic. He also developed his own program of research relating to the antiviral activities of CHDP on influenza viruses. In June 2011, Peter returned to Edinburgh to take up the post of Lecturer and Principal Investigator in Immunotoxicology at Edinburgh Napier University. In October 2013, Peter was awarded a University Readership and in January 2015 was appointed Director of Research for the School of Life, Sport and Social Sciences (now called the School of Applied Sciences). In August 2017 he was awarded the title of Associate Professor.

Peter is also a member of Edinburgh Infectious Diseases, the hub for infectious disease research in Edinburgh, a member and media spokesperson for the British Society for Immunology, as well as Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and an Editor of the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

Peter’s research interests lie in studying the human innate immune system with a view to developing novel therapeutics for infections. He is particularly interested in studying the activities of Cationic Host Defence Peptides (CHDP), principally in the context of viral respiratory infections, such as influenza and rhinovirus.

Cationic Host Defence Peptides, also known as antimicrobial peptides, are key components of the immune response. These peptides have been shown to display a broad spectrum of antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activities and, as such, are exciting targets for novel therapeutics.

This work is complemented by Peter’s collaborative work with Dr Craig Stevens, looking at novel peptide based therapeutics for the treatment of Crohn’s Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The role of autophagy, dysregulated cell death and the involvement of the cytoskeleton in the host cell response to infection in these inflammatory conditions has yet to be fully elucidated.

Peter also has a long-standing interest in the impact of particulate air pollution on the immune system. Environmental pollutants such as nanoparticles have been demonstrated to have dramatic pro-inflammatory effects in humans, but the impact of these materials on innate immune responses has yet to be determined.

The concepts of Peter’s work can be expanded to broadly include many different types of inflammatory and infectious conditions, but are unified by the common interest in the multiple roles of cationic host defence peptides in the immune response.

Current Projects

1. The role of CHDP in host defence during respiratory viral infection

2. The role of autophagy in Crohn’s Disease

3. The immunomodulatory roles of CHDP in Crohns Disease

4. Anti-chlamydial potential of CHDP


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