Professor Alison Heather
Department of Physiology
Otago School of Medical Sciences
University of Otago
PO Box 913
Phone: 479 7399
Fax: +64 3 479 7323
Member of Cardiovascular & Respiratory Physiology.
My research focuses on how the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, affect non-reproductive tissues in the body. My primary research investigates how these sex hormones promote calcification of atherosclerotic plaques. Atherosclerosis is the major cardiovascular disease and calcification of plaques leads to more ruptures causing heart attacks and strokes. The work performed in my laboratory is aimed at improving the understanding and safety of hormone replacement treatment use.
My research team also develops bioassays for the detection of designer androgens and estrogens that are used as doping agents in sports.
- Mechanism underlying the calcification of atherosclerotic plaques in response to estrogen and testosterone treatment
- Mechanism underlying the anabolic effect of estrogens on skeletal muscle
- Development of cell-based bioassays for the detection of designer androgens that are used for sports doping
- McGrath KCY, Li XH, Whitworth PT, Kasz R, Tan JT, McLennan SV, Celermajer DS, Barter PJ, Rye KA, Heather AK. (2014) High density lipoproteins improve insulin sensitivity in high-fat diet-fad mice by suppressing hepatic inflammation. Journal of Lipid Research, in press.
- Cooper E, McGrath KCY, Heather AK (2013) In vitro androgen bioassay as a detection method for designer androgens. Sensors 13:2148-63
- Akram O, Bursill C, Deesai R, Heather AK, Kazlauskas R, Handelsman DJ, Lambert G (2011) Evaluation of androgenic activity of nutraceutical-derived steroids using mammalian and yeast in vitro androgen bioassays. Anal Biochem 83:2065-74
- Sieveking DP, Lim P, Chow RWY, Dunn LL, Bao S, McGrath KCY, Heather AK, Handelsman DJ, Celermajer DS, Ng MKC (2010) A sex-specific role for androgens in angiogenesis. J Exp Med 207(2) 345-352
- McRobb LS, Handelsman DJ, Heather AK (2009) Androgen-induced progression of arterial calcification in ApoE-null mice is uncoupled from plaque growth and lipid levels. Endocrinology 150:841-848
- McLeod LS, Handelsman DJ, Kazlauskas R, Wilkinson S, McLeod MD, Heather AK (2008) Structure-activity relationships of synthetic progestins in a yeast-based in vitro androgen bioassay. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molec Biol 110(1-2):39-47
- Handelsman DJ, Heather AK (2008) Androgen doping in sport. Olympic special section. Asian Journal of Andrology 10:403-15
- McRobb LS, Handelsman DJ, Kazlauskas R, Wilkinson S, McLeod MD, Heather AK (2008) Structure-activity relationships of synthetic progestins in a yeast-based in vitro androgen bioassay. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 110(1-2):39-47
I believe the best way to grow as a scientist is to be thrown in the deep end early on. My summer projects gave me this opportunity in a safe and fun environment, so when I started my thesis research I was already familiar with the scientific method. Having finished my PhD, I also really appreciate the boost they give my academic CV!
For more information on the Summer Research Programme, click here