Dr Helen Roberts


Dr Helen Roberts
NameDr Helen Roberts
Job titleDoP Natural Science/Assoc Prof in Skeletal Cancer Research
Research institute
Primary appointmentNatural Sciences
Email addressH.Roberts@mdx.ac.uk
ORCIDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-1974-0319
Contact categoryResearcher

Biography

Biography

Dr Helen Roberts (nee Owen) gained a PhD from the University of Glasgow whilst based at the Roslin Institute, where she investigated the molecular events surrounding steroid-induced skeletal growth retardation. Following this, Dr Roberts moved to the University of Sheffield where she investigated epigenetic biomarkers which were able to predict cancer progression. She has since coordinated research projects both at KU Leuven in Belgium, where she researched the role of epigenetics and autophagy in critical illness-induced bone loss, and at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry where she used genome-wide molecular profiling to identify epigenetic biomarkers associated with inflammation and immune suppression in critically ill patients. Dr Roberts is currently Associate Professor in Skeletal Cancer Research at Middlesex University, and coordinates a research track investigating the regulation of aberrant cellular behaviour and subsequent skeletal tissue morbidity. She has a particular interest in the role of epigenetics and autophagy in the regulation of osteosarcoma metastasis and chemoresistance.

Teaching

Dr Roberts is Programme Leader for the Faculty of Science and Technology Foundation Programme, and Director of Programmes (Biosciences and Quality Enhancement) for the Department of Natural Sciences. Dr Roberts also contributes to the teaching of epigenetics, physiology, pharmacology, molecular biology and cell biology on undergraduate and postgraduate modules, and supervises a number of undergraduate (BSc) and postgraduate (MSc, MRes and PhD) research projects. 

Current Research Students

PhD: Daniela Paternina Martinez, Maria Pop

MRes:  Akashdeep Ganguly, Eriola Diku

Past Research Students 

PhD: Kaan Low, Janice Pereira

MRes: Gabriel Rosa, Dewa Zazai, Ivan Punev, Charlotte New, Aine Pears, Yathushigan Kulatheepan, Bipusha Tha Shrestha

Employment

Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Queen Mary University of London
01 Aug 2013
31 Dec 2015
Postdoctoral Research Fellow/Project Leader
KU Leuven (Belgium)
01 Jun 2009
31 Jul 2013
Postdoctoral Research Assistant
University of Sheffield
01 Oct 2007
30 May 2009

Education and qualifications

PhD - Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Glucocorticoid-Induced Growth Retardation
01 Oct 2007
Roslin Institite and Univeristy of Glasgow
BSc (Hons) Pharmacology with Industrial Experience; First Class
10 Dec 2003
University of Edinburgh

Grants

Delineating the metastatic process in osteosarcoma: the role of bone cells, the cell environment and autophagy

Principal Investigator; In collaboration with Dr Scott Roberts, Royal Veterinary College, London

https://www.mdx.ac.uk/news/2021/03/Hannahs-Willberry-Wonder-Pony-Charity

26 Mar 2021
Hannah's Willberry Wonder Pony Charity
Mechanisms of chemoresistance in canine osteosarcoma

Principal Intestigator; In collaboration with Prof. Richard Meeson, Royal Veterinary College, London

21 Mar 2018
PetPlan Charitable Trust
MicroRNA regulation of autophagy-induced chemoresistance in osteosarcoma

Principal Investigator; In collaboration with Dr Britta Stordal, Middlesex University

01 Mar 2017
Bone Cancer Research Trust

Prizes and Awards

External activities

Associate Editor
Oncology in Veterinary Medicine
https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/veterinary-science/sections/oncology-in-veterinary-medicine

Scientific advisory board member
Reviewer for funding applications
Hannah's Willberry Wonder Pony
https://www.willberrywonderpony.org/pages/expert-panel

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
External committee
Higher Education Academy

Founding Member of the Primary Bone Cancer Metastasis Network (PBCMetNet)
Co-investigator on funded research projects
Primary Bone Cancer Metastasis Network

The first ever pre-clinical collaboration aimed at understanding and developing treatments for osteosarcoma metastasis.

https://www.bcrt.org.uk/research/making-progress-through-collaboration/pbcmetnet#:~:text=Primary%20Bone%20Cancer%20Metastasis%20Network,developing%20treatments%20to%20stop%20this.

Reviewer
Reviewer for funding applications
Medical Research Council

Research outputs

Identifying fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 as a mediator of periosteal osteochondral differentiation through the construction of microRNA-based interaction networks

Wells, L., Roberts, H., Luyten, F. and Roberts, S. 2023. Identifying fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 as a mediator of periosteal osteochondral differentiation through the construction of microRNA-based interaction networks. Biology. 12 (11). https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12111381

A machine learning‑based image segmentation method to quantify in vitro osteoclast culture endpoints

Davies, B.K., Hibbert, A.P., Roberts, S.J., Roberts, H., Tickner, J.C., Holdsworth, G., Arnett, T.R. and Orriss, I.R. 2023. A machine learning‑based image segmentation method to quantify in vitro osteoclast culture endpoints. Calcified Tissue International and Musculoskeletal Research. 113 (4), p. 437–448.

Establishment and characterization of single and triple‐agent resistant osteosarcoma cell lines

Low, K., Hills, F., Roberts, H. and Stordal, B. 2023. Establishment and characterization of single and triple‐agent resistant osteosarcoma cell lines. Advanced Biology. 7 (2). https://doi.org/10.1002/adbi.202200194

The role of autophagy in canine osteosarcoma chemoresistance and metastasis

Kulatheepan, Y., Baines, S., Meeson, R. and Roberts, H. 2022. The role of autophagy in canine osteosarcoma chemoresistance and metastasis. 26th Annual Technological Advances in Science, Medicine and Engineering Conference 2022. Virtual

Migratory bodies express markers of tumour initiating cells and may represent an early stage of osteosarcoma sarcosphere initiation and metastasis

Paternina Martinez, D., Roberts, S. and Roberts, H. 2022. Migratory bodies express markers of tumour initiating cells and may represent an early stage of osteosarcoma sarcosphere initiation and metastasis. Research Students' Summer Conference. Middlesex University, Lonon, UK 22 - 23 Jun 2022

ATR inhibition increases sensitivity of a highly aggressive osteosarcoma cell line to cisplatin treatment

Pereira, J., Roberts, S. and Roberts, H. 2022. ATR inhibition increases sensitivity of a highly aggressive osteosarcoma cell line to cisplatin treatment. Research Students' Summer Conference. Middlesex University, Lonon, UK 22 - 23 Jun 2022

Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy (4th edition)

Klionsky, D., Roberts, H. and et al. 2021. Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy (4th edition). Autophagy. 17 (1), pp. 1-382. https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2020.1797280

CRISPR/Cas9-mediated ATG7 knockout results in enhanced osteosarcoma chemosensitivity

Pears, A. and Roberts, H. 2022. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated ATG7 knockout results in enhanced osteosarcoma chemosensitivity. Bone Research Society Annual Conference. Manchester Metropolitan Univeristy 06 - 08 Jul 2022

ATR inhibition increases sensitivity of a highly aggressive osteosarcoma cell line to cisplatin treatment

Pereira, J., Roberts, S. and Roberts, H. 2022. ATR inhibition increases sensitivity of a highly aggressive osteosarcoma cell line to cisplatin treatment. Bone Research Society Annual Conference. Manchester Metropolitan Univeristy 06 - 08 Jul 2022

Migratory bodies express markers of tumour initiating cells and may represent an early stage of osteosarcoma sarcosphere initiation and metastasis

Paternina Martinez, D., Roberts, S. and Roberts, H. 2022. Migratory bodies express markers of tumour initiating cells and may represent an early stage of osteosarcoma sarcosphere initiation and metastasis. Bone Research Society Annual Conference. Manchester Metropolitan Univeristy 06 - 08 Jul 2022

Intentionality for inclusivity - the journey at Middlesex University

Roberts, H., Punev, I., Allardyce, D., Kyprianou, A., Appiah, S., Megeney, A., Calin, A., Gallacher, D. and Mill, R. 2022. Intentionality for inclusivity - the journey at Middlesex University. McGraw Hill.

Decellularised cartilage ECM culture coatings drive rapid and robust chondrogenic differentiation of human periosteal cells

Vas, W., Shah, M., Roberts, H. and Roberts, S. 2022. Decellularised cartilage ECM culture coatings drive rapid and robust chondrogenic differentiation of human periosteal cells. Bioengineering. 9 (5), pp. 1-11. https://doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering9050203

Overcoming chemoresistance in osteosarcoma: the role of autophagy in cell death or survival following chemotherapy

Rosa, G., Burczynska, B., Stordal, B. and Roberts, H. 2018. Overcoming chemoresistance in osteosarcoma: the role of autophagy in cell death or survival following chemotherapy. Research Degrees Students' Summer Conference. Middlesex University, London, UK 04 Sep 2018

The combination of curcumin and doxorubicin shows a selective cytotoxic effect on acute myeloid leukaemia cell line

Hasan, N., Roberts, H., Ghali, L. and Appiah, S. 2018. The combination of curcumin and doxorubicin shows a selective cytotoxic effect on acute myeloid leukaemia cell line. NCRI Cancer Conference (2018). Glasgow, Scotland 04 - 06 Nov 2018

Mechanisms of apoptosis and autophagy in chemoresistant ovarian cancer cells

Bennacer, A., Roberts, H. and Stordal, B. 2018. Mechanisms of apoptosis and autophagy in chemoresistant ovarian cancer cells. Research Degrees Students' Summer Conference. Middlesex University, London, UK 04 Sep 2018

Optimisation of a selection strategy for drug resistance osteosarcoma cell lines

Low, K., Hills, F., Roberts, H. and Stordal, B. 2018. Optimisation of a selection strategy for drug resistance osteosarcoma cell lines. Research Degrees Students' Summer Conference. Middlesex University, London, UK 04 Sep 2018

Overcoming chemoresistance in osteosarcoma: the role of autophagy in cell death or survival following chemotherapy

Rosa, G., Burczynska, B., Stordal, B. and Roberts, H. 2018. Overcoming chemoresistance in osteosarcoma: the role of autophagy in cell death or survival following chemotherapy. 2018 NCRI Cancer Conference. Glasgow, Scotland 04 - 06 Nov 2018

Optimisation of a selection strategy for drug resistance osteosarcoma cell lines

Low, K., Hills, F., Roberts, H. and Stordal, B. 2019. Optimisation of a selection strategy for drug resistance osteosarcoma cell lines. 2019 NCRI Cancer Conference. Glasgow, UK 03 - 05 Nov 2019

Mapping human serum induced gene networks as a basis for the creation of biomimetic periosteum for bone repair

Al Hosni, R., Shah, M., Cheema, U., Roberts, H., Luyten, F. and Roberts, S. 2020. Mapping human serum induced gene networks as a basis for the creation of biomimetic periosteum for bone repair. Cytotherapy. 22 (8), pp. 424-435.

MicroRNA profiles are associated with lymphocyte count after a major traumatic injury: a potential role for immunometabolism?

Jones, T., Torrance, H., Roberts, H., Brohi, K., Barnes, M., Knight, J., Hinds, C., Ackland, G. and O'Dwyer, M. 2018. MicroRNA profiles are associated with lymphocyte count after a major traumatic injury: a potential role for immunometabolism? British Journal of Anaesthesia Research Forum. Royal College of Anaesthetists, London 30 - 31 May 2018 Elsevier. pp. e23-e24 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bja.2018.05.027

Critical illness-induced bone loss is related to deficient autophagy and histone hypomethylation

Owen, H., Vanhees, I., Gunst, J., Van Cromphaut, S. and Van den Berghe, G. 2015. Critical illness-induced bone loss is related to deficient autophagy and histone hypomethylation. Intensive Care Medicine Experimental. 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40635-015-0052-3

The perioperative immune response

O'Dwyer, M., Owen, H. and Torrance, H. 2015. The perioperative immune response. Current Opinion in Critical Care. 21 (4), pp. 336-342. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCC.0000000000000213

Systemic inflammatory response syndrome after major abdominal surgery predicted by early upregulation of TLR4 and TLR5

Lahiri, R., Derwa, Y., Bashir, Z., Giles, E., Torrance, H., Owen, H., O'Dwyer, M., O'Brien, A., Stagg, A., Bhattacharya, S., Foster, G. and Alazawi, W. 2016. Systemic inflammatory response syndrome after major abdominal surgery predicted by early upregulation of TLR4 and TLR5. Annals of Surgery. 263 (5), pp. 1028-1037. https://doi.org/10.1097/SLA.0000000000001248

Changes in gene expression following trauma are related to the age of transfused packed red blood cells

Torrance, H., Vivian, M., Brohi, K., Prowle, J., Pearse, R., Owen, H., Hinds, C. and O'Dwyer, M. 2015. Changes in gene expression following trauma are related to the age of transfused packed red blood cells. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. 78 (3), pp. 535-542. https://doi.org/10.1097/TA.0000000000000534

Perioperative blood transfusion is associated with a gene transcription profile characteristic of immunosuppression: a prospective cohort study

Fragkou, P., Torrance, H., Pearse, R., Ackland, G., Prowle, J., Owen, H., Hinds, C. and O'Dwyer, M. 2014. Perioperative blood transfusion is associated with a gene transcription profile characteristic of immunosuppression: a prospective cohort study. Critical Care. 18 (5). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13054-014-0541-x

Humanized culture of periosteal progenitors in allogeneic serum enhances osteogenic differentiation and in vivo bone formation

Roberts, S., Owen, H., Tam, W., Solie, L., Van Cromphaut, S., Van den Berghe, G. and Luyten, F. 2014. Humanized culture of periosteal progenitors in allogeneic serum enhances osteogenic differentiation and in vivo bone formation. Stem Cells Translational Medicine. 3 (2), pp. 218-28. https://doi.org/10.5966/sctm.2012-0137

Hypermethylation of CpG islands and shores around specific microRNAs and mirtrons is associated with the phenotype and presence of bladder cancer

Dudziec, E., Miah, S., Choudhry, H., Owen, H., Blizard, S., Glover, M., Hamdy, F. and Catto, J. 2011. Hypermethylation of CpG islands and shores around specific microRNAs and mirtrons is associated with the phenotype and presence of bladder cancer. Clinical Cancer Research. 17 (6), pp. 1287-1296. https://doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-2017

Low frequency of epigenetic events in urothelial tumors in young patients

Owen, H., Giedl, J., Wild, P., Fine, S., Humphrey, P., Dehner, L., Amin, M., Epstein, J., Blaszyk, H., Hughes, D., Hartmann, A., Stoehr, R. and Catto, J. 2010. Low frequency of epigenetic events in urothelial tumors in young patients. The Journal of Urology. 184 (2), pp. 459-463. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.juro.2010.03.131

Distinct microRNA alterations characterize high- and low-grade bladder cancer

Catto, J., Miah, S., Owen, H., Bryant, H., Myers, K., Dudziec, E., Larré, S., Milo, M., Rehman, I., Rosario, D., Di Martino, E., Knowles, M., Meuth, M., Harris, A. and Hamdy, F. 2009. Distinct microRNA alterations characterize high- and low-grade bladder cancer. Cancer Research. 69 (21), pp. 8472-8481. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0744

Chondrocyte p21(WAF1/CIP1) expression is increased by dexamethasone but does not contribute to dexamethasone-induced growth retardation in vivo

Owen, H., Ahmed, S. and Farquharson, C. 2009. Chondrocyte p21(WAF1/CIP1) expression is increased by dexamethasone but does not contribute to dexamethasone-induced growth retardation in vivo. Calcified Tissue International and Musculoskeletal Research. 85 (4), pp. 326-334. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00223-009-9276-0

Identification of a novel splice variant of the haloacid dehalogenase: PHOSPHO1

Roberts, S., Owen, H. and Farquharson, C. 2008. Identification of a novel splice variant of the haloacid dehalogenase: PHOSPHO1. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 371 (4), pp. 872-876. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.04.163

Dexamethasone-induced expression of the glucocorticoid response gene lipocalin 2 in chondrocytes

Owen, H., Roberts, S., Ahmed, S. and Farquharson, C. 2008. Dexamethasone-induced expression of the glucocorticoid response gene lipocalin 2 in chondrocytes. American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism. 294 (6), pp. E1023-E1034. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpendo.00586.2007

The role of micrornas in the development of hospital acquired infection in polytrauma patients

Owen, H., Torrance, H., Barnes, M., Brohi, K., Knight, J., Hinds, C. and O'Dwyer, M. 2015. The role of micrornas in the development of hospital acquired infection in polytrauma patients. ESICM LIVES 2015: 28th Annual Congress of European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Berlin, Germany 03 - 07 Oct 2015 Springer Open. https://doi.org/10.1186/2197-425X-3-S1-A35

Post-operative immune suppression is reversible with interferon gamma and independent of IL-6 pathways

Longbottom, E., Torrance, H., Owen, H., Hinds, C., Pearse, R. and O'Dwyer, M. 2015. Post-operative immune suppression is reversible with interferon gamma and independent of IL-6 pathways. ESICM LIVES 2015: 28th Annual Congress of European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Berlin, Germany 03 - 07 Oct 2015 Springer Open. https://doi.org/10.1186/2197-425X-3-S1-A820

T-helper cell polarisation following severe polytrauma

Torrance, H., Brohi, K., Warnes, G., Owen, H., Hinds, C., Pennington, D. and O'Dwyer, M. 2015. T-helper cell polarisation following severe polytrauma. ESICM LIVES 2015: 28th Annual Congress of European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Berlin, Germany 03 - 07 Oct 2015 Springer Open. https://doi.org/10.1186/2197-425X-3-S1-A848

Phytochemical modulation of apoptosis and autophagy: strategies to overcome chemoresistance in leukaemic stem cells in the bone marrow microenvironment

Owen, H., Appiah, S., Hasan, N., Ghali, L., Elayat, G. and Bell, C. 2017. Phytochemical modulation of apoptosis and autophagy: strategies to overcome chemoresistance in leukaemic stem cells in the bone marrow microenvironment. in: Zeng, B. and Zhao, K. (ed.) Neurobiology of Chinese Herb Medicine Elsevier.

Biomimetic strategies for fracture repair: engineering the cell microenvironment for directed tissue formation

Vas, W., Shah, M., Al Hosni, R., Owen, H. and Roberts, S. 2017. Biomimetic strategies for fracture repair: engineering the cell microenvironment for directed tissue formation. Journal of Tissue Engineering. 8, pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1177/2041731417704791

Granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interferon gamma act through different mechanisms in reversing post-operative immune suppression

Longbottom, E., Torrance, H., Owen, H., Hinds, C., Pearse, R. and O'Dywer, M. 2016. Granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interferon gamma act through different mechanisms in reversing post-operative immune suppression. ESICM LIVES 2016: 29th Annual Congress of European Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Milan, Italy 01 - 05 Oct 2016 Springer. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40635-016-0098-x

Features of postoperative immune suppression are reversible with interferon gamma and independent of interleukin-6 pathways

Longbottom, E., Torrance, H., Owen, H., Fragkou, P., Hinds, C., Pearse, R. and O'Dwyer, M. 2016. Features of postoperative immune suppression are reversible with interferon gamma and independent of interleukin-6 pathways. Annals of Surgery. 264 (2), pp. 370-377. https://doi.org/10.1097/SLA.0000000000001484

Epigenetic regulatory pathways involving microRNAs may modulate the host immune response following major trauma

Owen, H., Torrance, H., Jones, T., Pearse, R., Hinds, C., Brohi, K. and O'Dwyer, M. 2015. Epigenetic regulatory pathways involving microRNAs may modulate the host immune response following major trauma. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. 79 (5), pp. 766-772. https://doi.org/10.1097/TA.0000000000000850

Enhanced immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif signaling is related to pathological bone resorption during critical illness

Vanhees, I., Gunst, J., Janssens, T., Wauters, A., Van Herck, E., Van Cromphaut, S., Van den Berghe, G. and Owen, H. 2013. Enhanced immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motif signaling is related to pathological bone resorption during critical illness. Hormone and Metabolic Research. 45 (12), pp. 862-9. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0033-1351290

Critical illness-related bone loss is associated with osteoclastic and angiogenic abnormalities

Owen, H., Vanhees, I., Solie, L., Roberts, S., Wauters, A., Luyten, F., Van Cromphaut, S. and Van den Berghe, G. 2012. Critical illness-related bone loss is associated with osteoclastic and angiogenic abnormalities. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 27 (7), pp. 1541-1552. https://doi.org/10.1002/jbmr.1612

Low frequency of epigenetic events in urothelial tumours from young patients

Catto, J., Owen, H., Giedl, J., Wild, P., Fine, S., Epstein, J., Humphrey, P., Dehner, L., Amin, M., Blaszyk, H., Hughes, D., Hartmann, A. and Stoehr, R. 2010. Low frequency of epigenetic events in urothelial tumours from young patients. European Urology Supplements. 9 (2), pp. 260-261. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1569-9056(10)60798-1

The growth plate sparing effects of the selective glucocorticoid receptor modulator, AL-438

Owen, H., Miner, J., Ahmed, S. and Farquharson, C. 2007. The growth plate sparing effects of the selective glucocorticoid receptor modulator, AL-438. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. 264 (1-2), pp. 164-70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mce.2006.11.006
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