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Dr Richard Heads BSc (Hons) PhD

Lecturer in Cardiology

Heads,RichardDept of Cardiology, The Rayne Institute
St Thomas' Hospital, Lambeth Palace Rd
London SE1 7EH
Tel: +44 (0)20 7188 0966
Fax +44 (0)20 7188 0970


Dr Heads graduated from Portsmouth School of Pharmacy in 1983 with a BSc(Hons) in Pharmacology. He then undertook a PhD in Protein Biochemistry and Cell Biology in the Biophysics Section, School of Biological Sciences, Portsmouth Polytechnic and graduated in 1987. This was followed by postdoctoral positions in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Liverpool and The Medical Molecular Biology Unit and The Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Studies at University College London. He was appointed Lecturer in Cardiology at United Medical and Dental Schools (UMDS) in 1996 and which subsequently amalgamated with King’s College London School of Medicine.

Research interests

The research focus of Dr Heads’s group is aimed at studying the mechanisms of adaptation, cardioprotection and cell death in cardiac myocytes and fibroblasts during ischaemia-reperfusion injury, post-infarction remodelling and heart failure. The development of adaptive tolerance to ischaemia and injury in the heart involves responses which are regulated at the transcriptional level. The group is characterising the role of signalling pathways induced by transient ischaemia in the regulation of stress and inflammatory responses and their role in delayed ischaemic preconditioning using in vivo and in vitro models.

The group is studying co-operative signalling through the calcium/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase calcineurin and protein kinase C (PKC) to the transcriptional regulation of inflammatory and stress response genes including inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2), cytokines (such as interleukin-6: IL-6) and Heat Shock (Stress) Proteins (HSPs) and the direct role of these both in vivo and in vitro using genetic manipulation and ectopic expression approaches. This includes regulation of COX-2 expression by the transcription factor NFAT and studying the role of COX-2-derived prostanoids in the regulation of cardiomyocyte survival, fibroblast activation and migration and extracellular matrix remodelling in response to ischaemia-reperfusion.

In addition, the role of IL-6 family cytokine receptors in the activation of the mitogen- and stress-activated protein kinases (MAPKs/SAPKs) Erk, JNK and p38; the JAK/STAT and PI-3-K/PKB pathways are being studied in relation to cardiomyocyte survival and hypertrophy.

In collaboration with Dr Vishwanie Budhram-Mahadeo and Professor David Latchman at University College London, Dr Heads’s group have also made the novel observation that the Brn-3 family POU domain transcription factor members Brn-3a and Brn-3b are expressed in the heart. Hence, his group is studying the role of Brn-3a and Brn-3b in cardiac developmental, hypertrophic and cardioprotective gene regulation and in the identification of novel gene targets for Brn-3a and Brn-3b in the heart which play a role in cardiomyocyte differentiation, survival and injury.

Group members

Research Assistant

  • Mrs R Bassi (co-supervised with Prof Michael Marber)

visit the king's research portalfor richard head's publications
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