Funding boost for heart researchers in Birmingham

Heart scientists in Birmingham have been awarded prestigious grants of more than £580,000 by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) as part of a multi-million pound boost for research in the UK.

Sunset behind QE Hospital and Birmingham University

QE Hospital and Birmingham University

The BHF announced the funding for researchers at the University of Birmingham as part of Support Our Science (SOS) month – a month long celebration of the charity’s life-saving research.

The new grants were announced as the nation’s heart charity sends out a nationwide call to support heart science. The BHF is the single biggest independent funder of cardiovascular research in the UK. Last year, it gave more than £100m to research at Universities and hospitals all over the UK.

The University of Birmingham is a leading centre for heart disease research in Birmingham.

In the past five years, it has received more than £12,733,473 of funding from the BHF for vital life-saving science.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF said: “We are very pleased to be announcing a number of research awards in Birmingham this June, when we are sending out an ‘SOS’ to ask the public to Support Our Science.

“We couldn’t fund the UK’s leading scientists like this team at the University of Birmingham without you. Thanks to all of those in Birmingham who are helping us through volunteering, donations or fundraising – your support is giving real hope of finding new treatments for heart patients.”

To find out more about SOS month at the BHF visit

The grants announced to research institutions in Birmingham today are:

Grant recipient

Research institution

Grant amount

What the project will aim to achieve

Dr Neena Kalia and Prof Jonathan Frampton University of Birmingham £206,974 “Enhancing the recruitment of haematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells to different vascular sites – therapeutic implications (3 years)Stem cell research has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of many types of heart and circulatory disease. However, the current challenge remains for researchers to understand more about how stem cells behave so that they can be used as a therapy. Targeting stem cells to a specific area of injured tissue is a particular area of interest. Dr Neena Kalia and Professor Jonathan Frampton from the University of Birmingham will investigate whether treating adult stem cells with hydrogen peroxide increases their stickiness and ability to attach to injured blood vessels. Their findings will be vital to the field of regenerative medicine and the development of new treatments for heart and circulatory disease.


Prof Eamonn R Maher University of Birmingham £147,671 PG/12/007 “Identification of novel inherited phaeochromocytoma genes” (2 years)Phaeochromocytoma is a tumour of the adrenal gland. Although most phaeochromocytomas are benign tumours, one of the reasons they can pose a danger is that they can release adrenaline into the circulatory system, which in turn can lead to high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure is a risk factor for life-threatening events such as a stroke or heart failure. This research team from the University of Birmingham, King’s College London, and Barts and the London Medical School is interested in the possible role of genetic factors in the development of these tumours. Identifying the specific genes responsible for the development of phaeochromocytomas will enable members of families who are at risk to undergo genetic testing and could lead to early identification and treatment of these tumours.


BHF Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellow Dr Yotis Senisand BHF Chair Prof Stephen Watson University of Birmingham £231,404 “Regulation of Src family kinases by the kinase-phosphatase pair Csk-CD148” (3 years)Small blood cells called platelets have an important role in blood clotting: they can become sticky and clump together, forming a plug to stop bleeding at the site of an injury. Although clotting is an important response to injury, it can also be dangerous. Under certain circumstances a large blood clot, called a thrombus, can grow in a blood vessel, blocking the flow of blood and even breaking free from the vessel wall. A thrombus in the circulatory system can be very dangerous, because it can block blood flow to tissues. In the brain, this can causes a stroke, and in the heart it’s the final stage in the sequence of events leading to a heart attack. This group at the University of Birmingham are UK leaders in the study of platelets. This grant will fund a project looking at a pair of platelet proteins , called CD148 and Csk, which helps control another protein family called the Src Family Kinases. These Src Family Kinases help control the ‘stickiness’ of platelets, activating them to attach to each other or the vessel wall. When something goes wrong with these proteins, the result can be thrombosis. This project could help lead to new treatments to reduce dangerous blood clotting.