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Anwen Williams

Professor Anwen Williams

Professor of Experimental Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Director of Organisation and Wellbeing

School of Medicine


As an ambassador of Cardiff University's ambition for excellence, I have an established international reputation and a distinguished track record of research in Experimental Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

As Director of Postgraduate Research Studies and Deputy Dean of Research, I provide academic leadership of policy and methodology that ties the managerial to the pedagogical in a way that benefits both students and staff in the School of Medicine. I successfully overhauled the teaching and learning strategy for postgraduate research studies in the School by leading several academic teams whose collegiality and productivity delivered a 'transformational agenda' for quality enhancement. My teaching and scholarship profile is distinguished by Higher Education Academy recognition at Senior Fellow level. This prestigious National accreditation was awarded for proven excellent professional practice and accomplishments in the management and leadership of postgraduate research provision. Consistent with student expectations, these activities contribute substantially to enhancing the environment for creativity and curiosity in the School of Medicine at Cardiff University.


























Book sections


An overview by the Office of National Statistics in July 2017 stated that the UK population is getting older with 18% aged 65 and over and 2.4% aged 85. How can we ensure that people remain active and healthy as they get older?

My research focuses on the identification of cell-associated signals that underpin the development of disease in the skeletal system (e.g., cartilage and bone) and the circulatory system (e.g, arteries and heart). Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis and 7 million people fight their daily battles with heart and circulatory disease. I lead innovative projects aimed at the development of medicines that manipulate the inflammatory response and the processes that orchestrate tissue destruction so that an environment for repair and regeneration is restored and maintained. I am a Pharmacist with specialist knowledge of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and research strengths that span broader disciplines in the Life Sciences e.g., Immunology, Biochemistry, Cell Biology and Biomedical Imaging. In leading the pre-clinical 'discovery' platform in the section of Rheumatology I develop pharmacological targets and innovative research tools for translation to the clinic.

Having rheumatoid arthritis doubles the risk of most heart problems, including heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis. Making sense of how inflammation and other risk factors influence heart disease related to rheumatoid arthritis will help doctors identify and treat high-risk patients early, before they develop symptoms. My research will provide new insights into disease mechanisms, enable better tailoring of existing treatments and pave the way for the development of new treatments and/or diagnostics.

Current projects

  • Mechanisms of vascular dysfunction in rheumatoid arthritis
  • Assessment of osteoclast activation inhibitors for inflammatory arthritis therapy
  • Sensing bone erosion by capacitance
  • Glutamate receptor antagonists for osteoarthritis therapy
  • How do cytokines signalling through the transcription factors STAT1 and STAT3 determine the course of synovial inflammation?

Recent successful funding applications

  • 2017: Medical Research Council (MRC) Proximity to Discovery Scheme (Biomedical Catalyst)
  • 2017: Bio-Cancer Treatment International Limited (Cardiff University research and development co-operative agreement)
  • 2016: MRC Proximity to Discovery Scheme (Biomedical Catalyst)
  • 2016: MRC Confidence in Concept grant with SEDA Pharmaceutical Development Services
  • 2016: Arthritis Research UK Centre Renewal Grant
  • 2016: BBSRC (iCASE) PhD studentship with Rothamsted
  • 2015: Arthritis Research UK Programme Grant
  • 2014: The Elizabeth Owens Bequest PhD studentship
  • 2014: Arthritis Research UK Clinical Research Fellowship
  • 2014: Arthritis Research UK Experimental Arthritis Treatment Centre Grant
  • 2013: British Heart Foundation (BHF) PhD Studentship
  • 2013: Arthritis Research UK Grant Project
  • 2013: Ferring Pharmaceutical Award
  • 2012: Cardiff University President's Research Scholarship
  • 2012: Arthritis Research UK Equipment Grant
  • 2012: Arthritis Research UK Programme Grant

Research supervision is often regarded as an adjunct of research where it is assumed that effective researchers can supervise. My pedagogic approach recognises that supervision is a subtle and complex form of teaching that must be adapted to the individual needs of each student.

Current Postgraduate Researchers

  • 2016 - present: Ewan Richardson, PhD full time
  • 2015 - present: David Hill, PhD full time
  • 2015 - present: David Hodson, MPhil full time
  • 2014 - present: Katie Sime, PhD full time
  • 2014 - present: Charlotte Rawlings, MD full time
  • 2014 - present: Ruth Davies, PhD full time

Celebrating the success of  my past students

  • 2013 - 2016: Jessica Williams, PhD
  • 2012 - 2016: Lauren Jordan, PhD
  • 2011 - 2016: Abdul Moideen, MD
  • 2009 - 2013: Fraser Collins, PhD
  • 2009 - 2013: Laura Evans, PhD
  • 2008 - 2012: Anja Bloom, PhD
  • 2007 - 2009: Shaun Smale, MD
  • 2006 - 2010: Sophie Reynolds, PhD
  • 2006 - 2010: ZaraBeth Newton, PhD
  • 2004 - 2009: Melanie Bull, PhD
  • 2004 - 2009: Eleanor Carpenter, MD
  • 2003 - 2008: Sarah Cartey, PhD
  • 2003 - 2007: Sarah Lauder, PhD
  • 1999 - 2003: Heather Mason, PhD



As a mentor, supervisor, lecturer, module designer and Director of Postgraduate Research studies; I teach and support learning through successful engagement with a broad spectrum of teaching activities. During the course of my career (over 2 decades), I have maintained an upward and productive teaching and research portfolio that demonstrates a sustained contribution to teaching and learning excellence. I am an opportunistic learner who builds upon core knowledge through participating in continuous professional development activities. Examples include:

  • 2014 - 2015: Practical Leadership for University Management 
  • 2013: Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
  • 2012: Medical Education Orientation Programme
  • 2011: in house training for small group teaching,
  • 2012: Academic mentor training(2012) and (2014/15)

A sense of personal satisfaction and self-worth is sufficient to motivate me to implement good practice and sustained inspirational teaching in training and management roles in the School of Medicine. In recognition of my standing I have served as external examiner at several UK universities:-

  • 2016: University of Southampton PhD Examination Board
  • 2010 - 2014: University of Surrey BSc in Microbial & Cellular Sciences,
  • 2010 - 2014: University of Surrey BSc in Biochemistry
  • 2010 - 2014: University of Surrey BSc in Physiology and Nutritional Sciences
  • 2014: Keele University PhD Examination Board

The endorsement of my teaching portfolio by the Higher Eductation Academy has inspired other early stage career scientists and postgraduate researchers to do likewise. I support and mentor postgraduate researchers to gain recognition for their teaching activity at associate fellow level.

My teaching and learning portfolio is multi-faceted. I use both conventional and student-centred learning approaches to teach medical undergraduates, undergraduate pharmacologists and postgraduate researchers specializing in Medicine, Biological and Life Sciences. I pay explicit attention to meeting the needs of individual students/researchers and use their feedback to develop appropriate and impactful teaching/training.



PGCE with Distinction: University of Wales, Newport


PhD: University of Wales, Cardiff


BPharm, First Class (with honours): University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology. The Sterling Winthrop Prize for achieving best grades in pharmaceutical chemistry and in pharmacology.


Present & previous leadership roles

  • Aug'17 - present: Professor, Cardiff University School of Medicine
  • May'15 - Apr'20: Deputy Dean of Research responsible for Postgraduate Research
  • Jan'14 - Dec'17: Director of Postgraduate Research Studies
  • Dec'12 - Dec'13: Deputy Director of Postgraduate Research Studies
  • Apr'06 - Dec'10: Head of Department (Rheumatology)

Career overview

  • 1990 - present: Cardiff University School of Medicine
  • 2017 - present: Professor of Experimental Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  • 2009 - 2017: Reader (Division of Infection and Immunity)
  • 2003 - 2009: Senior Lecturer (Section of Rheumatology)
  • 1999 - 2003: Non-Clinical Lecturer
  • 1995 - 1999: Senior Research Scientist (Rheumatology)
  • 1993 - 1995: University of Wales Fellow
  • 1990 - 1993: Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Honours and awards

  • Cardiff University STAR Award for Inspirational Leadership in Research, 2016
  • Arthritis Research UK College of Experts, 2016
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), 2015
  • National Finalist: Science and Technology 'Inspire Wales Award' by Welsh Government (Institute of Welsh Affairs), 2013
  • Winner: Cardiff University 'Excellence in Teaching' award (student nominated), 2011

Professional memberships

  • Member of UK Council for Graduate Education, 2013 to present
  • Member of The British Society for Matrix Biology, 2011 to present
  • Member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (MRPharmS), 1986 to present

Membership of peer review panels

  • Expert Reviewer for the French Agence Nationale Recherche (The French National Research Agency), 2017
  • Expert Reviewer for the European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries, 2016
  • Expert external reviewer for EU-funded William Harvey International Translational Research Academy at Barts and The London, Queen Mary School of Medicine and Dentistry. Topic: Innate immunity and inflammation/Biological basis of immunity related disorders.

Committees and reviewing

I lead the implementation of positive change to the University's research environment, research training and research governance by servicing the following decision forums:-

  • 2016 - present: Doctoral Academy Postgraduate Research Network
  • 2015 - present: Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship review panel
  • 2013 - present: College Forum for Directors of Postgraduate Research 
  • 2012 - present: Postgraduate Open Day Steering Group
  • 2013 - present: MRC DTP panel for supplement review
  • 2016: Establishment Licence Holders' Advisory Group (Project licence holder representative) working on behalf of Cardiff University's Animal Welfare Ethical Review Board
  • 2016: College of Physical Sciences & Engineering College's ARE Committee that reviewed and evaluated ARE Reports for each School in the College.
  • 2014 - 2015: University Task and Finish Groups to overhaul University regulations relating to 'joint' PhD provision and PGR Appeals procedures
  • 2013 - 2015: BBSRC SWBio project sift and student interview panels
  • 2013 - 2015: MRC DTP PhD project review and selection panel and student selection panel  member.
  • 2012 - 2016: Research Student Progress Monitoring Project Team: to create a bespoke electronic student information management system
  • 2012 -2016: University Graduate College Postgraduate Research Network
  • 2012 - 2016: Assuring a Quality Experience Programme Team

School committees:

  • Research Degrees Committee (Chair)
  • Research Management Group
  • School Board
  • Education Committee
  • Public Understanding of Science in Health Committee
  • Athena SWAN panel
  • Masters in Research Programme Board (to 2015)


  • Grant reviewer for: Orthopaedic Research UK, Arthritis Research UK, Joint Action, Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Charity, French Agence Nationale Recherche, European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries.
  • Reviewer of research manuscripts/articles for multiple National/International Immunology, Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Rheumatology themed research journals.