Portrait of Dr Elisavet Vasilopoulou

Dr Elisavet Vasilopoulou

Lecturer in Biological Sciences


Elisa Vasilopoulou graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Applied and Human Biology from Aston University in 2006 and was awarded a PhD in Reproduction, Genes and Development from the University of Birmingham in 2010 (supervised by Dr Shiao-yng Chan and Professor Mark Kilby).

In 2012, Elisa joined Dr David Long’s laboratory at UCL Institute of Child Health, where she developed an interest in understanding the biological mechanisms of kidney disease progression and developing new treatments. In 2015, she was awarded a 3-year Kidney Research UK Post-Doctoral fellowship to investigate the therapeutic potential of the anti-inflammatory peptide, thymosin-beta4, in kidney disease.

Elisa joined Medway School of Pharmacy in 2017 as a Kidney Research UK Fellow and subsequently Lecturer in Biological Sciences. She also holds an Honorary Research Associate position at UCL Institute of Child Health.

Research interests

Elisa’s primary research interests focus on kidney disease progression. End stage kidney disease is a devastating condition that requires life-long dialysis or transplantation. The incidence of kidney disease is currently rising and there is urgent need for new treatments. Elisa’s research is utilising in vivo and in vitro models to investigate the biological mechanisms of kidney disease progression and explore new therapeutic targets.

One aspect of this work is focused on the glomerulus, the filtration unit of the kidney. Glomerular disease is one of the leading causes of end-stage kidney disease. Elisa’s research addresses two processes that contribute to glomerular damage:

i) infiltration of leukocytes, particularly macrophages, in the glomerular area leading to inflammation and fibrosis,

ii) changes in the architecture of podocyte cells - an essential component of the glomerular filtration barrier - leading to defective filtration and proteinuria.

Elisa has established national and international academic collaborations. Currently, Elisa is supervising a PhD student, William Mason, who is researching the role of thymosin-beta4 in podocyte function in health and disease.

Current Projects
Regulation of inflammation in glomerular disease by thymosin-beta4; a novel treatment for patients with renal disease. Funded by Kidney Research UK
Investigating the therapeutic potential of thymosin-beta4 to restore podocyte function.
Thyroid hormone action in kidney disease. Funded by the Society for Endocrinology

Recent publications
Papakrivopoulou E, Vasilopoulou E, Lindenmeyer MT, Pacheco S, Brzóska HŁ, Price KL, Kolatsi-Joannou M, White KE, Henderson DJ, Dean CH, Cohen CD, Salama AD, Woolf AS, Long DA. (2018) Vangl2, a planar cell polarity molecule, is implicated in irreversible and reversible kidney glomerular injury. Journal of Pathology. 246(4):485-496
Vasilopoulou E, Riley PR, Long DA. (2018) Thymosin-b4: a key modifier of renal disease. Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy. 18(sup1):185-192
Vasilopoulou E, Kolatsi-Joannou M, White KE, Robson MG, Sebire NJ, Riley PR, Winyard PJ, Long DA. (2016) Loss of endogenous thymosin-β4 accelerates glomerular disease. Kidney Int. 90(5): 1056-1070
Vasilopoulou E, Winyard PJ, Riley PR, Long DA (2015) The role of thymosin-β4 in kidney disease. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 15 Suppl 1:187-90
Chan SY, Susarla R, Canovas D, Vasilopoulou E, Ohizua O, McCabe CJ, Hewison M, Kilby MD (2015) Vitamin D promotes human extravillous trophoblast invasion in vitro. Placenta 36(4):403-9
Vasilopoulou E, Loubière LS, Lash GE, Ohizua O, McCabe CJ, Franklyn JA, Kilby MD, Chan SY (2014) Triiodothyronine regulates angiogenic growth factor and cytokine secretion by isolated human decidual cells in a cell-type specific and gestational age-dependent manner. Hum Reprod. 26(6):1161-72
Vasilopoulou E, Loubière LS, Heuer H, Trajkovic-Arsic M, Darras VM, Visser TJ, Lash GE, Whitley GS, McCabe CJ, Franklyn JA, Kilby MD, Chan SY (2013) Monocarboxylate transporter 8 modulates the viability and invasive capacity of human placental cells and fetoplacental growth in mice. PLOS One 12;8(6):e65402
Loubière LS, Vasilopoulou E, Glazier JD, Taylor PM, Franklyn JA, Kilby MD, Chan SY (2012) Expression and function of thyroid hormone transporters in the microvillous plasma membrane of human term placental syncytiotrophoblast. Endocrinology 153: 6126-6135
Vasilopoulou E, Loubiere LS, Martin-Santos A, McCabe CJ, Franklyn JA, Kilby MD, Chan SY (2010) Differential triiodothyronine responsiveness and transport by human cytotrophoblasts from normal and growth-restricted pregnancies. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 95:4762-4770
Loubière LS*, Vasilopoulou E*, Bulmer JN, Taylor PM, Stieger B, Verrey F, McCabe CJ, Franklyn JA, Kilby MD, Chan SY (2010) Expression of thyroid hormone transporters in the human placenta and changes associated with intrauterine growth restriction. Placenta 31:295-304 (*Joint first authors)
Chan SY, Vasilopoulou E, Kilby MD (2009) The role of the placenta in thyroid hormone delivery to the fetus. Nat Clin Pract Endocrinol Metab 5:45-54