For over 30 years Professor McEwan has made a sustained effort to understand the pathogenesis of, and potential therapeutic strategies for vascular disease.
Following training in research methodology during BSc studies, and a research based PhD (Cardiovascular Effects of Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide) and subsequent post-doctoral work on receptor mediated release of endothelium derived relaxing factor and prostacylin, she embarked upon a programme of grant-supported research, which addressed a major clinical problem – that of restenosis after angioplasty. In the course of this work she both developed innovative tools to study the disease process, and explored potential treatments.
Angioplasty was introduced to clinical practice in the late 1970s and became a useful and popular treatment for coronary and peripheral arterial narrowing. However, 30% of all such endovascular procedures were complicated by restenosis, which limited its effectiveness. Restenosis is due to a combination of thickening of the artery wall, known as intimal hyperplasia, and constrictive remodelling of the artery at the site of the angioplasty.
Jean’s research at University College London addressed this major iatrogenic disease, insight into which has also led to a greater understanding of atherosclerosis. Her innovative approaches included gene therapy, and photodynamic therapy and she published an extensive portfolio of scientific papers.
Professor McEwan has supervised 13 successful MD and PhD students and takes great pleasure in the successes and career progress of her protégés.
The introduction of drug eluting stents in the early 2000s was a paradigm shift in the management of coronary vascular disease, and restenosis after percutaneous coronary intervention, though the mechanism of development of plaque and of intimal hyperplasia is still the subject of much research.