Dr Gillian Knight

Position: Head of Biomedical Science and Public Health

College: College of Life & Natural Sciences

Department: Biosciences

Subject area: Biological Sciences

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I am the lead for the Biomedical Science and Public Health discipline, which is part of the Department of Life Sciences. The Biomedical Science and Public Health team consist of biomedical scientists and public scientists; with the focus of the discipline being health and wellbeing, looking at how biological, environmental and social factors all impact on human health.

The discipline has a number of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, which I oversee as lead of discipline. These degree programmes all address different aspects of human health, from the regulation of the human body (BSc (Hons) Human Biology), the understanding of how disease impacts on the human body (BSc/MSci Biomedical Health) to the development of public health specialists (Masters in Public Health).

The team are also research active and investigate different aspects of human health including: oncology, muscle immunology, infectious disease control, impacts on social-economic status on human health and global health.

Teaching responsibilities

  • Oversee the running of the discipline's undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes
  • Development of new degree programmes
  • Chairing of University committees
  • Supervision of UG and PG research projects
  • Lead on a number of UG and PG modules

Professional interests

  • Health and Wellbeing research
  • Curricula design and programme development
  • Student engagement with experiential learning  

Research interests

My main research area is investigating the role of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in the development of oral-pharyngeal carcinoma. Long term infection with HPV has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of head and neck cancers (oral-pharyngeal carcinoma), particularly in men under the age of 50. I have conducted a number of research studies since joining the University of Derby, investigating the rates of oral HPV infection and relating this to how particular lifestyle choices may influence viral infection, to gain a clearer understanding of the risk factors associated with HPV infection.

I am currently working in collobration with the Royal Derby Hospital to look at the levels of HPV in patients attending the Head and Neck departments and Gynaecological departments to look at the levels of HPV infection within the patient community, and if their lifestyle choices are influencing their likelihood of obtaining a HPV related cancer. The research team has recently been awared a grant by the Midlands Institute of Otology to support this study.

I also research the HPV knowledge and attitudes of young adults and adolescents to determine what understanding younger people have about infection with HPV and also the HPV vaccination programme. I have been to a number of local and national schools to discuss HPV and the HPV vaccination programme with year 8 school children, with an aim to better educate children about infectious diseases. My research area is now expanding to looking at sexual health education and trying to determine how young adults can be better educated about the risk of sexual infections.  

Another area of my research is investigating antibiotic resistance bacteria within the healthy community. The problem of antibiotic resistance bacteria is an area that has been highlighted as a key driving force for global health, with the number of healthy individuals harbouring antibiotic resistance bacteria steadily increasing. My research has been focused on the epidemiological determinants for antibiotic resistance bacteria in healthy individuals.

Membership of professional bodies

  • Member of the International Society of Papilloma Virus
  • Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy


Undergraduate qualifications

  • BSc (Hons) Applied Biology, Brunel University, London

Postgraduate qualifications

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, Keele University
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Research qualifications

  • PhD in Molecular characterisation of bile acid co-transport protein, St Thomas and Guys Hospital, London & University of Bedfordshire

Recent publications

  • Knight, G.L, Needham, L., Ward,D., and Roberts, S. (2016). Pilot study investigating the prevalence of oral Human Papilloma Viral (HPV) infection in young adults. Public health, 132 p105-107
  • The role of protein kinase A regulation of the E6 PDZ binding domain during the differentiation-dependent life cycle of human papillomavirus type 18 (2013) Delury,C., Marsh, C., James, C., Boon, S., Banks, L., Knight, G., Roberts S.Journal of Virology, 87 (17) p9463-9472
  • Watson, D and Knight, G (2012) Continuous formative assessment and feedback in an Enquiry-Based Laboratory course. Bioscience Education20 p101-105
  • Knight GL, Pugh AG, Yates E, Bell I, Wilson R, Moody CA, Laimins LA, Roberts S (2011) A cyclin-binding motif in human papillomavirus type 18 (HPV18) E1^E4 is necessary for association with CDK-cyclin complexes and G2/M cell cycle arrest of keratinocytes, but is not required for differentiation-dependent viral genome amplification or L1 capsid protein expression. Virology 412 (1) p196-210

Recent conferences

  • Using audio files to assess individual student contribution to group work - LTA conference, Buxton 2013
  • Investigation into the frequency of oral HPV infection in young adults - University of Derby, Buxton 2014
  • Why men should be asking for the cervical cancer vaccination - College of Life and Natural Sciences research conference, Buxton 2015

Experience in industry

Research post

  • University of Birmingham (Research Fellow): Cervical cancer and Human papilloma virus (HPV) March 2000 - November 2009

In the media

I have spoken a number of times on local radio and in the press on areas focused around disease spread, particularly related to microbial infections.

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