Paul Hartley

Dr Paul Hartley

  • Principal Academic
  • C213 Christchurch House
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After graduating with a first-class honours from the University of Abertay Dundee I moved to Edinburgh and worked for the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Human Reproductive Sciences Unit and then began a PhD on cellular ageing of human blood platelets at Edinburgh University's Medical School under the supervision of Simon Brown and John Savill. Afterwards, I completed a post-doc position at the MRC’s Human Genetics Unit looking at cellular trans-differentiation using bone marrow stem cells to correct a model of cystic fibrosis. A senior post-doctoral role ensued with Professor Tony Harmar's Circadian Physiology Group in the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Cardiovascular Research, where I developed a project regarding how biological rhythms affected platelet production. In 2009 I became an independent principal investigator and developed both mouse and fruit fly models to tackle questions about the molecular and cellular biology of cardio-renal physiology. In 2013 I was awarded a four-year BHF Basic Science Fellowship, which allowed me to spend a year in San Diego with Professor Rolf Bodmer's group developing the fruit fly model and in 2014 I became a Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Edinburgh...



I’m interested in understanding the link between gene expression and specialist cellular functions and explore this using the fruit fly Drosophila. The fly provides genetic tractability and offers opportunities to study the impact of ageing on physiology and cellular function.

We focus on the heart and kidney like cells called nephrocytes. We've identified cause and effect relationships between genes and heart dysfunction as well as metabolism and renal function and most recently immune homeostasis.

Journal Articles

  • Hurcombe, J.A. et al., 2019. Podocyte GSK3 is an evolutionarily conserved critical regulator of kidney function. Nature Communications, 10 (1).
  • Troha, K., Nagy, P., Pivovar, A., Lazzaro, B.P., Hartley, P.S. and Buchon, N., 2019. Nephrocytes Remove Microbiota-Derived Peptidoglycan from Systemic Circulation to Maintain Immune Homeostasis. Immunity, 51 (4), 625-637.e3.
  • Blice-Baum, A.C., Guida, M.C., Hartley, P., Adams, P., Bodmer, R. and Cammarato, A., 2018. As time flies by: Investigating cardiac aging in the short-lived Drosophila model. BBA - Molecular Basis of Disease.
  • Vaughan, L., Marley, R., Miellet, S. and Hartley, P.S., 2018. The impact of SPARC on age-related cardiac dysfunction and fibrosis in Drosophila. Experimental Gerontology, 109, 59-66.
  • Psathaki, O.E., Dehnen, L., Hartley, P.S. and Paululat, A., 2018. Drosophila pericardial nephrocyte ultrastructure changes during ageing. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, 173, 9-20.
  • Hartley, P., 2016. SPARC-Dependent Cardiomyopathy in Drosophila. Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.
  • Ivy, J.R., Drechsler, M., Catterson, J.H., Bodmer, R., Ocorr, K., Paululat, A. and Hartley, P.S., 2015. Klf15 is critical for the development and differentiation of drosophila nephrocytes. PLoS ONE, 10 (8).
  • Hartley, P.S., 2013. Mice housed in groups of 4-6 exhibit a diurnal surge in their platelet count. Platelets, 24 (5), 412-414.
  • Catterson, J.H., Heck, M.M.S. and Hartley, P.S., 2013. Fermitins, the Orthologs of Mammalian Kindlins, Regulate the Development of a Functional Cardiac Syncytium in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS ONE, 8 (5).
  • Tracey, C.J., Pan, X., Catterson, J.H., Harmar, A.J., Hussain, M.M. and Hartley, P.S., 2012. Diurnal expression of the thrombopoietin gene is regulated by CLOCK. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 10 (4), 662-669.
  • Hartley, P.S., 2012. The diurnal tick-tockery of platelet biology. Platelets, 23 (2), 157-160.
  • Catterson, J.H., Knowles-Barley, S., James, K., Heck, M.M.S., Harmar, A.J. and Hartley, P.S., 2010. Dietary modulation of Drosophila sleep-wake behaviour. PLoS ONE, 5 (8).
  • Hartley, P.S., Sheward, J., Scholefield, E., French, K., Horn, J.M., Holmes, M.C. and Harmar, A.J., 2009. Timed feeding of mice modulates light-entrained circadian rhythms of reticulated platelet abundance and plasma thrombopoietin and affects gene expression in megakaryocytes. British Journal of Haematology, 146 (2), 185-192.
  • Hartley, P.S., John Sheward, W., French, K., Horn, J.M., Holmes, M.C. and Harmar, A.J., 2008. Food-entrained rhythmic expression of PER2 and BMAL1 in murine megakaryocytes does not correlate with circadian rhythms in megakaryopoiesis. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 6 (7), 1144-1152.
  • Hartley, P.S., 2007. Platelet senescence and death. Clinical Laboratory, 53 (3-4), 157-166.
  • Hartley, P.S., Savill, J.S. and Brown, S.B., 2007. Hypoglycaemia predisposes platelets to death by affecting calcium homeostasis and mitochondrial integrity. Platelets, 18 (2), 103-112.
  • Hartley, P.S., Savill, J. and Brown, S.B., 2006. The death of human platelets during incubation in citrated plasma involves shedding of CD42b and aggregation of dead platelets. Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 95 (1), 100-106.
  • Da Silva, S.J.M., Bayne, R.A.L., Cambray, N., Hartley, P.S., McNeilly, A.S. and Anderson, R.A., 2004. Expression of activin subunits and receptors in the developing human ovary: Activin A promotes germ cell survival and proliferation before primordial follicle formation. Developmental Biology, 266 (2), 334-345.
  • Hartley, P.S., Bayne, R.A.L., Robinson, L.L.L., Fulton, N. and Anderson, R.A., 2002. Developmental changes in expression of myeloid cell leukemia-1 in human germ cells during oogenesis and early folliculogenesis. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 87 (7), 3417-3427.
  • Anderson, R.A., Cambray, N., Hartley, P.S. and McNeilly, A.S., 2002. Expression and localization of inhibin α, inhibin/activin βA and βB and the activin type II and inhibin β-glycan receptors in the developing human testis. Reproduction, 123 (6), 779-788.
  • Hartley, P.S., Dawson, B., Lindsay, C., McCormick, P. and Wishart, G., 1999. Cryopreservation of houbara semen: A pilot study. Zoo Biology, 18, 147-152.


  • Hartley, P.S. and Coward, R.J., 2020. Modeling Podocyte Biology Using Drosophila Nephrocytes. Methods in Molecular Biology. 11-24.


  • Hurcombe, J. et al., 2017. Podocyte glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) is an evolutionarily conserved master regulator of glomerular/excretory function controlling podocyte differentiation and cell cycling. In: British Renal Association: UK Kidney Week 2017 19-21 June 2017 Liverpool, UK.
  • Sivakumar, S., Coward, R. and Hartley, P.S., 2017. Insect nephrocytes as a model for human podocyte ageing. In: UK Kidney Week 2017 19-21 June 2017 Liverpool.
  • Hartley, P.S., 2015. SPARC mediates cardiac ageing. In: Weinstein meeting on Cardiovascular Development 2015 28 April-2 May 2015 Boston, USA.
  • Ivy, J.R., Catterson, J.H. and Hartley, P., 2012. Drosophila Bteb2, a Kruppel-like transcription factor, specifies and maintains adult pericardial nephrocytes. In: Physiology 2012 10-14 July 2012 Edinburgh, UK..

Profile of Teaching UG

  • Advanced Cell Biology (unit leader)
  • Cell Biology (1st Year BSc Biological Science)
  • Advanced Topics in Genetics (3rd Year BSc Biological Sciences)
  • Biological Research Skills (1st Year BSc Biological Sciences)
  • Advanced Skills for Biology (2nd Year BSc Biological Sciences)
  • Practical Skills in Biology (1st Year BSc Biological Sciences)
  • Programme Lead BSc (Hons) Biological Science

Invited Lectures

  • Insect nephrocytes model of human podocyte ageing, Liverpool, 20 Jun 2017 more
  • Simple yet sophisticated: Drosophila genetics and, Bristol University, 27 Oct 2015 more
  • A fly way to maintain blood homeostasis, University of Osnabruck, Osnabruck, Germany., 09 Dec 2014 more


  • Optimising Podocyte Power to treat Diabetic Nephropathy (Kidney Research UK, 10 Jul 2018). Awarded
  • Modelling Angiotensin receptor-associated protein (ATRAP) interaction dynamics to define novel targets for treatment of Chronic kidney disease (£220,472; Kidney Research UK) (Kidney Research UK, 01 Jun 2017). Awarded
  • Welcome Trust Seed Award (£100,000) (Wellcome Trust, 11 Jan 2016). Awarded
  • Using the fruit fly Drosophila to understand podocyte biology in diabetic nephropathy - a pilot study (£35,900, Kidney Research UK) (Kidney Research UK, 01 Oct 2015). Awarded
  • Research in the USA on identifying the regulatory pathways controlling human KLF15 using fruit fly genetics (£2430, Carnegie Trust) (Carnegie Trust, 07 Jan 2014). Awarded
  • Travel Award: Fly heart research at the Sanford Burnham Research Institute, La Jolla, California (£7500, SULSA) (SULSA, 15 Jun 2013). Awarded
  • From Flies to Humans: Using Drosophila genetics to study cardiovascular physiology (£422,903, British Heart Foundation) (British Heart Foundation, 01 May 2013). Awarded
  • The role of CLOCK in the control of megakaryocyte development (£142,168, British Heart Foundation) (British Heart Foundation, 01 Oct 2009). Awarded
  • The role of Tuberin and Hamartin (Tsc1 and Tsc2) in the control of Circadian Rhythms (£72,302, Tuberous Sclerosis UK) (Tuberous Sclerosis Association UK, 01 Apr 2008). Awarded

External Responsibilities

  • Worcester University, External Assessor of new degree (2021-)
  • India Alliance DBT Wellcome, External fellowship reviewer (2019-)
  • BBSRC, External reviewer (Project Grant) (2018-)
  • University of Bristol, Research collaborator (2017-2018)
  • Wellcome Trust & University of Edinburgh, Collaborator on Seed Award (2016-2017)

Internal Responsibilities

  • Research Impact Visit (Lead), Research Impact Visit
  • Programme leader, Programme Leader Biological Sciences
  • Lead organiser, Lab User Community
  • Impact Champion, Unit of Assessment Panel A, sub group 2; Impact Champion
  • Line Manager, Hartley research group
  • Line Manager, Hartley research group

Journal Reviewing/Refereeing

  • Nature Reviews Nephrology, Anonymous peer review, 01 Jan 2021
  • Journal of America Society for Nephrology, Anonymous peer review, 01 Jan 2021
  • Blood, Anonymous peer review, 03 Aug 2015
  • Journal of experimental biology, Anonymous peer review, 03 Aug 2015
  • Journal of Experimental Cell Research, Anonymous peer review, 03 Aug 2015
  • Kidney international, Anonymous peer review, 03 Aug 2015

Public Engagement & Outreach Activities

  • Nuffield Research Placements give sixth form students hands-on experience of a professional research environment through a 4 - 6 week placement in their summer holidays. The programme is run by the Nuffield Foundation and works through regional networks to link talented students with organisations undertaking research. We work with over 200 different organisations including universities, commercial companies, voluntary organisations and research institutes. By working with professional researchers, students gain an insight into a wide variety of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. By providing a placement, you organisation can give someone a life-changing opportunity that will help transform them into a future scientist.

Conference Presentations

  • Dynamic Cell IV, Store operated calcium mediates insect nephrocyte clearance function, 14 Mar 2021, UK
  • Physiological Society 2019, Piezo is required to buffer mechanical stress in the heart, 08 Jul 2019, Aberdeen, UK
  • UK Kidney Week, Insect nephrocytes as a model for human podocyte ageing, 19 Jun 2017, Liverpool, UK
  • UK Kidney Week 2017, GSK is an evolutionarily conserved critical regulator of human podocyte function, 19 Jun 2017, Liverpool
  • UK Kidney Week 2017, Novel mutations in NUP93 cause steroid resistant nephrotic syndrome., 19 Jun 2017, Liverpool
  • Weinstein meeting on Cardiovascular Development 2015, SPARC mediates cardiac ageing, 30 Apr 2015, Boston, USA.
  • Weinstein meeting on Cardiovascular Development 2015, SPARC mediates cardiac ageing, 28 Apr 2015, Boston, USA.


  • PhD in Clinical And Surgical Science (University of Edinburgh, 2005)
  • BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology (University of Abertay Dundee, 1999)


  • Investigator Award (awarded after my invited lecture at UK Kidney Week, 2017) (The Renal Association, 2017)


  • Higher Education Academy, Fellow (2018-),
  • Biochem Society, Member (2017-2018),
  • British Society for Cell Biology, Member (2017-),
  • Royal Society of Biology, Member (2017-),


  • Reagent network: we provided transgenic flies and antisera to Dr Friedhelm Hildebrandt (the Warren E. Grupe Professor of Pediatrics) at Harvard Medical School's Division of Nephrology, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
  • Reagent network: we provided Amnionless and dKlf15 antisera to Marta Carrasco Rando and the Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa, Madrid, Spain.