Dr. Heather L Wilson BSc DPhil

Senior Lecturer

Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular DiseaseDr Heather Wilson
University of Sheffield
Medical School
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX
Telephone: +44 (0)114 215 9560
Fax: +44 (0)114 271 1863
Email: h.l.wilson@sheffield.ac.uk

Research Interests:

My overarching research focus is to understand how immune activation is linked to heart disease. Following a severe infection like pneumonia, individuals are at a higher risk of heart attack or stroke for up to 3 weeks after the infection. We believe this is because immune cells in the atherosclerotic plaque become activated by inflammation, making the plaque more prone to rupture. Macrophages are a key immune cell in the arterial plaque, that alter their response and cellular function when exposed to infection or inflammatory signals. We have investigated how these atherosclerotic macrophages alter functionally according to their environment. Specifically we have addressed how P2X7 receptors, interleukin-1 secretion and Tribbles expression affect macrophage function. We are currently also interested in understanding the function of adipose tissue macrophages, since different fat depots are more or less associated with inflammation and disease: abdominal fat is associated with cardiovascular diseases and cancer susceptibility, while peripheral fat confers a lower disease risk.

We work closely with cardiology and stroke consultants within IICD and the Medical School in Sheffield so that our basic science is connected to patient disease. We are also fortunate to be part of a European Commission funded International Training Network, where we connect with scientists across Europe who have complimentary interests to link immunity, metabolism and disease together. We are increasingly aware that obesity is connected to cancer risk as well as cardiovascular diseases, and seek to understand the underlying mechanisms.


BSc (First Class) in Pharmacology, University College London.
Research Scientist, Pharmacology Department, Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham, Kent.
D.Phil. in Pharmacology, University of Oxford. Laboratory of Prof. Antony Galione.
Wellcome Trust PDRA, Laboratory of Profs Alan North & Annmarie Surprenant.
BHF PDRA, Laboratory of Prof. Steven Dower.
RCUK Fellow, University of Sheffield, 2005-2010.
Lecturer, University of Sheffield, 2010-2017
Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield, 2018-Present.

Teaching Interests:

Course Deputy, MRes in Cardiovascular Medicine.
Cardiovascular Pathway Lead, MSc in Molecular Medicine.
CDL401 Vascular Cell Biology module lead.
CDL301 lecturer, Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Biomedical Science BSc.
BMedSci Cluster lead, 2010-2019.
Personal and Academic Tutor to MBChB, BMedSci, MSc & MRes students.
Laboratory Project supervisor to PhD, MSc, MRes, BMedSci, MBChB & MBB four-year MBiolSci students & clinical training fellows.

Professional Activities:

  • Departmental REF Lead.
  • Member of the British Atherosclerosis Society and British Society of Immunology.
  • Ethics reviewer.
  • Member of the Bateson Centre, University of Sheffield (formerly Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics).

Current Projects:

  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Project Grant. "Novel zebrafish approaches to investigate leaderless protein secretion in vivo."
  • British Heart Foundation Project Grant. "Mechanisms and consequences of in vivo targeting of IL-1 to the endothelium."
  • British Heart Foundation PhD studentship. "Regulation of the Endothelial P2X4/7 Receptor Axis.”
  • Heart Research UK. Clinical Training Fellowship (supervisor). "Neutrophil delivery of IL-1 as a mechanism of MI risk after lung infection."
  • A*Star Studentship. "Contribution of blood immune cell subtypes in inflammatory function and the development of cardiovascular disease."
  • Horizon 2020 European Commission. Marie Curie Innovative Training Network Programme Award. TRAIN ‘Tribbles Research and Innovation Network’ 2016-2021


For key publications see below. For a full list of publications click here.

Journal articles