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Rachael Rigby supervises 3 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr Rachael Rigby


Rachael Rigby

Lancaster University

Furness Building



Tel: +44 1524 593420

Research overview

The majority of Dr Rigby's research has used the gastro-intestinal tract as an organ-system to research immunology, microbiology and oncology pathways.  I am interested in how our resident intestinal microflora drive the repair and replenishment of the intestinal epithelial barrier and train our immune system.  A shift in distribution/composition of gut microbial species (dysbiosis) underlies multiple pathologies, including diseases of insufficient intestinal restitution and repair, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), metabolic disease and colon cancer.


Research Interests

My research interests lie in mechanisms of repair and renewal of the intestinal epithelium. During diseases such as colon cancer and IBD, epithelial repair homeostasis is disrupted. My research focuses on the interplay between luminal bacteria and the epithelium through a family of proteins termed suppressors of cytokine signalling (SOCS) which are important mediators of cancer and inflammation.

The translational nature of my research utilises several models including human tissue, human and mouse ex-vivo cell cultures, cancer cell lines and Drosophila.  Current research projects include:

How microflora sustain a healthy intestine through analysis of signaling pathways and immune cells -  project funded by Bowel Cancer Research and is aimed at improving the outcome of stoma reversal surgery,

How epithelial cells generate tolerance and resistance to intestinal microflora and pathogens - project funded by the MRC

What microbial-related signaling events lead to the development of colon cancer

Investigating the impact of intestinal health on life span and behaviour

Whether infection-induced dysbiosis is linked to IBD or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) - funded by UHMBT

My work led to the discovery that a cell protein, SOCS3, is an inhibitor of tumorigenesis in the colon.  I was lead author on both the original paper, published in Oncogene, and a review published in Gastroenterology. I also published that commensal flora impact on intestinal inflammation and fibrosis following surgical resection and on immune cell cytokine production.  It is extremely important to me that my research has direct relevance to human health and disease.


Current Teaching

BIOL131 Introduction to Biomedical Science: lecturer
BIOL243 Medical Microbiology: module convenor  
BIOL353 Cancer: Lecturer  
BIOL321 Immunology: Lecturer                                                                 
Study Abroad Advisor for Biology
Special Study Module convenor on the Medicine MBChB degree

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