Emma is a clinician scientist based in the Hypoxia Biology Laboratory. She studied medicine at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and Merton College, Oxford, graduating in 2007. She began her post-graduate medical training in anaesthesia and intensive care before returning to Oxford to study for a DPhil and later changing clinical specialty to Clinical Pharmacology.
The thesis of her DPhil, awarded in 2017, described the role of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) signalling in hypoxic ventilatory control and the function of the carotid body, an oxygen-sensitive arterial chemoreceptor. A key finding of this work was that the HIF-2 isoform is essential for normal carotid body functions, including ventilatory responses to low oxygen and hypoxia-induced proliferation/ hyperplasia of carotid body tissue. This is relevant for the clinical consequences of genetic mutations that cause spurious activation of HIF-(2) signalling (pseudohypoxia), which are strongly associated with tumours of the autonomic paraganglia, including the carotid body and adrenal medulla.
Emma has been awarded a Wellcome Trust Early Career Fellowship to study how genetic pseudohypoxia drives paraganglial tumour formation through effects on sympathoadrenal differentiation, and whether these effects are phenocopied by hypoxia exposure during embryonic development.