School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences


Oluwatomisin Afolayan

  • Role Title: PhD Researcher
  • Address: St Michael’s Building, White Swan Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2DT
  • Telephone: 023 9284 3369
  • Email:
  • Department: School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science


I graduated from the University of Portsmouth in 2014 with a first class BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry and Genome Science. Upon graduation, I was also awarded the prize for the overall best performance in my year. This was mostly a result of my final year project conducted in the Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire du Cancer (L.B.M.C.C, Luxembourg) where I was able to work under the Erasmus scheme. My undergraduate project focused on an anti-cancer epigenetic research, where I studied the effects of polysulfane-based derivatives of naturally occurring garlic compounds on histone deacetylase in human leukaemia cells.

I then continued my studies by completing a Master of Research degree at the University of Portsmouth. The MRes also centred on epigenetics. Yet the focus was to establish a pipeline for chromatin immunoprecipitation from microsurgically extracted, minute tissue samples. This has been achieved.

At the end of my MRes in October 2015, I decided to embark on a 3-year PhD journey to apply the ChIP techniques, characterising the epigenetic signature of the cardio-competent head mesoderm. This research is needed to develop and quality test cells considered to heart repair in humans.


Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the most prevalent diseases in the Western world and the leading cause of death in Europe. Currently, treatments include medical procedures such as angioplasty and open heart surgeries which are known to lead to permanent tissue damage and often reduce symptoms for a few years only. Therefore, roads towards heart regeneration from stem cells are being explored. However, currently the properties cells must have to efficiently engraft the heart and couple with the existing cells are not clear.

The heart develops from the same precursor cell population as the skeletal musculature of the head. This cell population is able to differentiate into heart cells for a prolonged period of time, and hence, can teach us which properties cardio-competent cells must have.

The competence of cells to enter a particular pathway depends their epigenetic signature, which is the complement of genes in an active, poised or repressed state. These chromatin states can be distinguished with ChIP and ChIP-seq experiments. I will use the ChIP pipeline developed in my MRes to characterise the epigenetic signature of the early cardio-competent cells.


Dr Susanne Dietrich, Senior Lecturer in Development and Developmental Biology, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth
Dr Alan Thorne, Associate Dean of Research, School of Biological Sciences, University of Portsmouth
Prof Darek Gorecki, Professor of Molecular Medicine, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth