The University of Southampton
(023) 8120 5081

Dr Sylvia L.F. Pender BSc (Hons), PhD

Associate Professor in Mucosal Immunology,

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Dr Sylvia L.F. Pender is Associate Professor Reader in Mucosal Immunology, within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

The new way to make a difference


As a mucosal immunologist, her research based on how the mucosal immune and innate responses of the host can make the disease get better. She was one of the first to discover the involvement of matrix metalloproteinase in mucosal tissue inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease. Her current research shows new functions of MMPs and the related proteins which play important roles in anti-microbial infection, metabolic syndrome and aging disease such as osteoporosis.

Dr Pender has played a leading role in the protease field and is author of more than 50 journal articles on this topic. She is onthe editorial board of the World Journal of Gastroenterology and International Scholar Research Network – Inflammation. She is also an EU FP7 grant evaluator.

She is currently the Adjunct Associate Professor at International Medical University in Malaysia. She was a VC award winner in 2010 for promoting internationalization in the University. She is also a Global Partnership Award winner in 2013 for enhancing international research collaboration and partnership in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.



BSc.(Hons), Biochemical Sciences, University of Keele 1992
PhD, University of London 1996 (with an Overseas Research Scholarship award)

Appointments held

Research Fellow St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of London. 1995

Non-clinical Lecturer, University of Southampton 2000

Senior Lecturer, University of Southampton 2005

Associate Professor (Reader) in Mucosal Immunology, University of Southampton 2009

Adjunct Associate Professor, International Medical University in Malaysia 2015 -2016






Research interests

Sylvia’s research interest is based on the excessive production of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) contributes to the pathogenesis of many gut diseases as well as many diseases in other organs (i.e eye, heart, joint, lung, skin). The regulation of these enzymes can be governed by the inappropriate activation of the immune system. When myofibroblasts are stimulated with pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α and IL-1ß, MMP production is increased and mucosal ulceration ensues. Most importantly, the synthetic inhibitors of MMPs can inhibit the T cell-mediated tissue injury.

Current research extends the mechanistic studies of the immuno-regulatory response of tissue remodelling in a variety of disease states and organs, primarily those of the gut and the nose. Two EU FP7 funded collaborative research projects “IBDase” and "IPODD" were awarded to Sylvia’s research group in 2008. The two consortia involves twenty-one European research groups from different disciplines, including genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, mucosal immunology, microbiology, and translational medicine, brought together to address the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases in patients and animal models with a focus on proteases and protease inhibitors.


Studies focus on the preclinical and clinical trials based on the results obtained from IBDase and IPODD. That includes:

  • Role of MMP-12 in the pathogenesis of IBD.
  • Stress induce relapse colitis
  • Antimicrobial activity of MMPs

 Current research themes focus on:

  • Nutrition, metabolism, ageing and immunity in gut health
  • Anti-inflammatory effects of HDac inhibitor in IBD
  • Role of protease inhibitor in tissue restitution
  • Early detection of inflammation associated colorectal cancer
  • The role of bacteria in the formation of nasal polyps




Academic unit(s)

Clinical and Experimental Sciences Academic Units

Affiliate academic unit(s)

Infection and Immunity Research group

Postgraduate student supervision

MDs supervised to completion 2

PhDs supervised to completion 3



Stephen Hayes (RCS ENT Surgical Research Fellow; PhD)

Serena Martelli (VC/A*STAR student; PhD)

Tim Biggs (ENT Surgical Research Fellow; PhD)

Ali Salamat (RCS ENT Surgical Research Fellow, PhD)




Faculty of Medicine

Associate Director International (2012-2014) – to assist the Associate Dean International & Enterprise in developing internationalization and global engagements

FINE group member to promote International research partnership

International Student Advisor to offer pastoral support to all international students in the Faculty

Member of Postgraduate Research Program Committee to oversee student matters related to international students

Home Office license holder



University of Southampton

University of Southampton Internationalization Forum (USIF), organizing committee member

WiSET Steering Committee member

VC's award winner in 2010 for promoting internationalization in the University of Southampton and  

Global Partnership Award winner in 2013 to enhance international research collaborations.


National and International responsibilities

EU grant evaluator

Academic Editors-in-chief, Editorial Board, World Journal of Gastroenterology

Editor Board, International Scholar Research Network - Inflammation


Book Chapters


BM4 and BM5. Deliver lectures in Inflammatory Bowel Disease symposium, introduces basic immunological aspects of gut inflammation.


BM4 Graduate group facilitator.


All International students.

Provides pastoral support in the Faculty, organizes social gatherings and buddy system for all PGR, PTG and UG students in role of International Student Advisor.

Received a VC’s award in 2010 for promoting internationalization in the University of Southampton.

Dr Sylvia L.F. Pender
Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Building 85, Life Sciences Building, Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO171BJ

Room Number:SGH//MP813

Telephone:(023) 8120 5081

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