Following her doctoral degree at Aston University, Janet Lord became a research fellow in the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Oxford. In 1985 she joined the University of Birmingham as a research fellow in immunology and began her own research group following the award of a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 1989. She was appointed to a chair in Immune Cell Biology in 2004.
Professor Lord is now director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at Birmingham University. She is also director of the MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research and a theme lead in two NIHR funded centres: the NIHR Birmingham BRC and the NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre. Her primary research focus is in the effect of ageing upon immune function and how this limits the ability of older adults to resolve inflammation and predisposes them to chronic inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. She also researches the link between chronic systemic inflammation and physical frailty in old age. In this context Professor Lord has a particular interest in the role played by stress (physical and psychological) and the altered HPA axis in modulating immunity and frailty in old age and following an injury such as hip fracture. More recently she has begun to research the inflammatory response to major trauma and how this varies with age and influences patient outcomes, including sepsis, multi-organ failure and scarring. In 2013 she was awarded the Lord Cohen of Birkenhead medal for her outstanding research in human ageing by the British Society for Research on Ageing. She was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015.