Prof Simon Heller

Simon Heller

Professor of Clinical Diabetes

Academic Unit of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism
Room EU38, E Floor
Department of Oncology & Metabolism
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX

Tel: +44 (0)114 215 9009
For Admin Support, contact Lindsey Crowson : +44 (0)114 215 9004

Research Interests

Our group´s interests concern clinical research, focussing on clinical investigation involving varied topics with the common theme of immediate relevance to patients with diabetes. These include aspects of the pathophysiology of hypoglycaemia in diabetes, the contribution of hypoglycaemia to the increased risk of sudden death in young people with Type 1 diabetes (the 'dead in bed' syndrome), the clinical benefits of insulin analogues and trials of complex interventions to enable more effective self-management in people with diabetes. 

Our observation that hypoglycaemia unawareness is caused by repeated episodes of hypoglycaemia has led to programmes of unawareness reversal and restoration of hypoglycaemic symptoms in patients with Type 1 diabetes. Recent research on profound bradycardia during hypoglycaemia in patients with type 2 diabetes and ischaemic heart disease has commanded international attention (Chow et al, Diabetes 2014) and a collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and our research group has led to recently published guidance to advise the FDA and other agencies of important issue when assessing cardiac electrophysical safety of therapeutic agents in diabetes (Heller et al Am Heart J 2015).

We were the principal investigators for the multi-centre DAFNE trial and lead a national programme of research exploring different facets of the DAFNE education programme. This has directly led to funded roll-out of the approach by the Department of Health, an appraisal by NICE and recent NICE recommendations that training programmes be available to all patients throughout England and Wales. NIHR awarded a £1.7m 5 year NIHR programme grant, using the DAFNE collaborative (with >30,000 UK trained adults with type 1 diabetes) as a research test-bed. Following its successful completion (Heller et al, NIHR Journals Lib 2014), the NIHR has recently provided £2..7m programme funding over 5.5 years to continue this work, which has led to improved diabetes care with national and international impact.

Other research has also explored the potential of technology to improve blood glucose control and reduce hypoglycaemia in diabetes and work with the pharmaceutical industry in evaluating the benefit of new insulins (Heller et al Diabetes Care 1999, Heller et al Lancet 2012) and participated in multi-centre trials evaluating technology (Little et al Diabetes Care 2014) and closed loop devices (Thabit et al Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2014). Designed and subsequently led the recently completed REPOSE Trial, a multi-centre.£2m HTA funded RCT conducted in England and Scotland, measuring the effectiveness of insulin pump therapy in adults with type 1 diabetes."

Activities and Distinctions

  • Diabetes UK Research Committee 2005 – 2015. Professional Advisory Council 2003-2008. Scientific and Research Advisory Group. 2009- present, Arnold Bloom Lecture, Diabetes UK, 2012
  • Member of NICE/RCP working groups developing national guidelines for the management of adult Type 1 (2002) and Type 2 diabetes (2000).
  • Deputy Chair Joint DoH/MRC Research Advisory Committee on Diabetes 2002
  • Member of MRC College of Experts 2005-2009
  • Acting Portfolio Director in Diabetes, Dept of Health, Sept – Dec 2004
  • I chaired the Clinical Studies Advisory Group (2008-2014) and sit on the Management Committee of the UK Diabetes Clinical Research Network. I am currently the acting National Speciality Lead for Diabetes in the NIHR Clinical Research Network.
  • NIHR Senior Investigator (since 2012)
  • Regional Diabetes Specialty Lead, Yorks/Humber CRN, 2014 to present
  • National Diabetes Speciality Lead, NIHR CRN, 2015 to present

Representative Publications

Thabit H, D Elleri, L Leelarathna, JM Allen, A Lubina-Solomon, M Stadler, E Walkinshaw, A Iqbal, P Choudhary, ME Wilinska, KD Barnard, SR Heller, SA Amiel, ML Evans, DB Dunger, R Hovorka: Unsupervised home use of an overnight closed-loop system over 3-4 weeks: a pooled analysis of randomized controlled studies in adults and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Obes Metab 2015;17:452–458.

Pieber TR, S Deller, S Korsatko, L Jensen, E Christiansen, J Madsen, SR Heller: Counter-regulatory hormone responses to hypoglycaemia in people with type 1 diabetes after 4 weeks of treatment with liraglutide adjunct to insulin: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover trial. Diabetes Obes Metab 2015;17:742–750.

Heller S, B Darpo, MI Mitchell, H Linnebjerg, DJ Leishman, N Mehrotra, H Zhu, J Koerner, ML Fiszman, S Balakrishnan, S Xiao, TG Todaro, I Hensley, BD Guth, EL Michelson, P Sager: Considerations for assessing the potential effects of antidiabetes drugs on cardiac ventricular repolarization: A report from the Cardiac Safety Research Consortium. Am Heart J 2015;170:23–35.

Chow E, Bernjak A, Williams S, Fawdry RA, Hibbert S, Freeman J, Sheridan PJ, Heller SR: Risk of cardiac arrhythmias during hypoglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk. Diabetes, 2014

Little SA, Leelarathna L, Walkinshaw E, Tan HK, Chapple O, Lubina-Solomon A, Chadwick TJ, Barendse S, Stocken DD, Brennard C, Marshall SM, Wood R, Speight J, Kerr D, Flanagan D, Heller SR, Evans ML, Shaw JA:  Recovery of hypoglycemia awareness in long-standing type 1 diabetes: a multicenter 2 x 2 factorial randomized controlled trial comparing insulin pump with multiple daily injections and continuous with conventional glucose self-monitoring (HypoCOMPaSS). Diabetes Care, 2014

Thabit H, Lubina-Solomon A, Stadler M, Leelarathna L, Walkinshaw E, Pernet A, Allen JM, Iqbal A, Choudhary P, Kumareswaran K, Nodale M, Nisbet C, Wilinska ME, Barnard KD, Dunger DB, Heller SR, Amiel SA, Evans ML, Hovorka R:  Home use of closed-loop insulin delivery for overnight glucose control in adults with type 1 diabetes: a 4-week, multicentre, randomised crossover study. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol, 2014

White WB, Cannon CP, Heller SR, Nissen SE, Bergenstal RM, Bakris GL, Perez AT, Fleck PR, Mehta CR, Kupfer S, Wilson C, Cushman WC, Zannad F: Alogliptin after acute coronary syndrome in patients with type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med, 2013

Khunti K,  Gray LJ, Skinner T, Carey ME, Realf K, Dallosso H, Fisher H, Campbell M, Heller S, Davies M J:  Effectivenessof a diabetes education and self management programme (DESMOND) for people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus: three year follow-up of a cluster randomised controlled trial in primary care.  BMJ, 2012

Heller S, Buse J, Fisher M, Garg S, Marre M, Merker L, Renard E, Russell-Jones D, Philotheou A, Francisco AM, Pei H, Bode B: Insulin degludec, an ultra-longacting basal insulin, versus insulin glargine in basal-bolus treatment with mealtime insulin aspart in type 1 diabetes (BEGIN Basal Bolus Type 1): a phase 3 randomised, open label, treat-to-target non-inferiority trial. Lancet, 2012

Hopkins D, Lawrence I, Mansell P, Thompson G, Amiel S, Campbell M, Heller S: Improved biomedical and psychological outcomes in 1 year after structured education in flexible insulin therapy for people with type 1 diabetes: the UK DAFNE experience.  Diabetes Care, 2012

Hovorka R, Kumareswaran K, Harris J, Allen JM, Elleri D, Xing D, Kollman C, Nodale M, Murphy HR, Dunger DB, Amiel SA, Heller SR, Wilinska ME, Evans ML: Overnight closed loop insulin delivery (artificial pancreas) in adults with type 1 diabetes: crossover randomised controlled studies.  BMJ, 2011

Zoungas S, Patel A, Chalmers J, de Galan BE, Li Q, Billot L, Woodward M, Ninomiya T, Neal B, MacMahon S, Grobbee DE, Kengne AP, Marre M, Heller S:  Severe hypoglycemia and risks of vascular events and death. N Engl J Med 2010;

Kengne AP, Patel A, Colagiuri S, Heller S, Hamet P, Marre M, Pan CY, Zoungas S, Grobbee DE, Neal B, Chalmers J, Woodward M:  The Framingham and UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) risk equations do not reliably estimate the probability of cardiovascular events in a large ethnically diverse sample of patients with diabetes: the Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease:  Preterax and Diamicron-MR Controlled Evaluation (ADVANCE) Study. Diabetologia, 2010

Current Grants

National Institute of Health Research, Programme Grant October 2007-April 2013. Improving management of Type 1 diabetes in the UK: the DAFNE programme as a research test-bed. Principal Investigator in collaboration with Dr J Lawton, Dr M Clarke, Ms G Thompson, Prof S Amiel, Prof M Campbell, Dr P Mansell, Dr I Lawrence, Ms C Taylor, Ms L Oliver (Chief Investigator) £1.8m

Diabetes UK. Jan 2009-July 2013. KICk-OFF: A multi-centre, randomised controlled trial comparing intensive structured education with standard education in 11-16 year olds on intensive insulin therapy. Dr K Price, Prof C Eiser Dr J Wales, Dr J Freeman (co-investigator) £1.35m

Diabetes UK. April 2008-March 2011. Overnight hypoglycaemia prevention in adult subjects with type 1 diabetes: Closing the loop with Dr R Hovorka, Prof S Amiel Dr M Evans, (co-investigator) £750k

Diabetes UK. Sep 2009-March 2012. Prevention of recurrent severe hypoglycaemia: a definitive RCT comparing optimised MDI and CSII with or without adjunctive real-time continuous glucose monitoring Dr J Shaw, Prof D Kerr, Dr D Flanagan, Dr M Evans, Dr J Speight (co-investigator) £1.4m

South Yorkshire Research Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care October 2008- September 2013 Diabetes Theme Adolescent Project to develop a structured training programme and other interventions to improve outcomes in young people with Type 1 diabetes aged 16-21years. Prof C Eiser, Dr A Scott, (Chief Investigator) £900k

Health Technology Assessment Grant. June 2011-Dec 2015 The REPOSE (Relative Effectiveness of Pumps Or Structured Education) Trial. Prof N Waugh, Dr C Cooper, Prof M Campbell, Prof S Amiel, Dr P Hammond, Ms C Taylor, Dr R Lindsay, Dr J Lawton, Dr K Barnard, Dr M Evans, Dr F Green, Dr A Jaap, Ms C Taylor, Prof S Dixon, (Chief Investigator). £2.0m

Health Technology Assessment Grant. 14/213/10 January 2016 – June 2017 A systematic review of psychological interventions to improve motivation for self-management in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes Dr K Winkley, Prof Khalida Ismail, Prof A Brennan (co-investigator) £176.74k

National Institute of Health Research, Programme Grant March 2016- September 2021. Developing and trialling the DAFNEplus (Dose for Adjustment for Normal Eating) intervention. A lifelong approach to promote effective selfmanagement in adults with type 1 diabetes. Chief Investigator in collaboration with Professor J Lawton, Professor S Michie, Ms G Thompson, Prof S Amiel, Prof M Campbell, Dr P Mansell, Dr D Hopkins, Ms C Taylor, Dr J Elliott, Mr S Fisher, Prof L Yardley, Prof A Brennan, Dr J Cohen, Dr D Cooke, Prof W Baird. (Chief Investigator) £2.75m