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June 6th , 2024 – Major British Heart Foundation Funding Awarded

We are pleased to announce The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute has recently been granted 2 major BHF Awards worth £500,00 over 3 years.

The first is a BHF Project Grant awarded to Dr Siavash Kalkhoran. Dr Kalkhoran’s research project titled ‘Investigating the cardioprotective effects of targeting mitochondrial dynamics in chronic kidney disease has been funded for 3 years to a value of £348,250. The project is a joint collaboration between The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, UCL and the Centre for Nephrology at The Royal Free Hospital, with Prof Derek Yellon and Prof Alan Salama as Principal Investigators respectively.

The research will encompass multiple aspects of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its effects on cardiovascular health.  Patients with CKD have damaged kidneys which prevent them from eliminating toxic waste and bodily fluids. CKD not only affects the kidneys but also affects the function of other organs, especially the heart. Hence, patients with CKD have a higher risk of developing heart and circulatory problems such as heart attacks. However, current therapeutic options for saving heart function following a heart attack are limited for patients with CKD.

CKD alters the mitochondrial dynamics in both kidneys and heart to exacerbate the inflammation-induced severity of myocardial IRI. Dr Kalkhoran and the research team will investigate the main reasons why mitochondria lose shape and understand the repercussion of this incident following a heart attack in a model of CKD. The research project will aid in the identification of novel therapeutic targets that tackle inflammation to promote cardioprotection in patients with CKD.

 Dr Kalkhoran undertook his PhD at the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, UCL in 2018 and returned as a post-doctoral research fellow in 2022. We are thrilled to see his research career progress in this way and are grateful to the BHF for their support of our research.

The second grant is a BHF MBPhD awarded to Mike Sun which and will begin in the autumn. The research project titled ‘Using a novel direct activator of PI3-kinase alpha to investigate cardioprotection’ will be supervised by Prof Sean Davidson and Prof Derek Yellon and is valued at £154,700 for a term of 3 years.

Patient outcomes following acute myocardial infarction (AMI) have improved, however methods to limit ischaemia and reperfusion (IR) injury in AMI patients remain an important unmet clinical need. We have identified the PI3-kinase / AKT signalling pathway (referred to as the “Reperfusion Injury Salvage Kinase” or RISK pathway) as centrally involved in many cardioprotective drugs able to reduce myocardial infarct size after IR in preclinical studies. This research project will focus on further investigating the mechanism of protection by PI3Kalpha, and allow us to optimize the further development of these drugs for eventual use in humans to improve the outcome of patients who have a heart attack.

May 16th, 2024 – UCL – Wellington Clinical Fellow Awarded 1st Place at ICS PhD Symposium

Dr Ahmed Chilmeran, a UCL-Wellington Clinical Research Fellow at The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, has recently been award 1st place at the PhD Symposium held by the Institute of Cardiovascular Science, UCL. This symposium was an opportunity for all PhD candidates across the ICS to present their research work to peers and senior research teams. Dr Chilmeran presented his thesis titled “1938: The Code to Saving Hearts” which examines the role of compound 1938, a PI3Ka agonist, in cardioprotection from ischeamia reperfusion injury.

Following this award, Dr Chilmeran was invited to present to the Faculty Level competition for Population Health Sciences. While he did not win in this competition, he was able to further present his work to a broader scientific community.

Well done Ahmed!

January 9th, 2024 – UCL-Wellington Clinical Fellowship

The 2024 UCL- Wellington Clinical Fellowship scheme is now open for applications.

UCL and the Wellington Hospital are partners in a long-standing programme in which Fellows study for a PhD in the UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science while working at the UK’s largest private hospital providing specialist complex care.

This Clinical Fellowship is available to cardiologists looking to undertake an exclusively cardiovascular PhD. Fellows will register for their higher degrees at UCL (part-time). Their salary will be funded by The Wellington Hospital who will also cover their annual higher degree registration fee and an annual allowance for consumables for a period of up to 3 years. In return the Fellows are employed directly by the Hospital, working the equivalent of 30 hours per week.

Clinically the Fellows will be based at The Wellington Hospital in St. John’s Wood, London while the academic work will be based within the Institute of Cardiovascular Science, UCL.

We welcome all applicants who are medically qualified, GMC registered and have MRCP. The scheme is open only to UK nationals due to funding restrictions.

To apply, please visit the UCL website here.

Closes: 16th February 2024


Study and any other related enquiries should be made to Professor Derek Yellon, Director of the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, UCL:

Employment related enquiries should be made to Dr Damian Sczudlo, Head of Resident Doctors, The Wellington Hospital:

21st November, 2023 – Web of Science Acknowledges Professor Derek Yellon and Professor Sean Davidson with Highly Cited Researcher Designation for 2023

Professor Derek Yellon has been acknowledged as a 2023 Highly Cited Researcher by the Web of Science™. This is the fifth such designation for Prof Yellon, achieving this recognition year on year, a remarkable achievement. Further, Professor Sean Davidson has also been recognised for a second consecutive year. Both have been named in the Cross-field category.

Identified from the world’s leading and most influential researchers, the 2023 report highlights those whose highly cited papers rank in the top 1% by citations within the 21 defined fields within the 2023 publication year in the Web of Science™.  This recognition places Prof Yellon and Prof Davidson amongst the leading scientists worldwide.

The quality of research from The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute for 2023 is exemplified by this accolade. Prof Yellon and Prof Davidson lead by example and have distilled in the entire team the commitment to continuous excellence and hard work. We anticipate 2024 will bring new and exciting outputs across our many research programmes including ischaemic heart disease, ischaemic stroke, cardio-toxicity following cancer therapy, cardio-renal syndrome and cardiometabolic disease.

Globally, the UK ranks 3rd, just below the USA (1st) and China(2nd). Of the top 50 institutions in this list, University College London has risen 3 places from 15th in 2022 up to 12th in this year’s report with a total of 57 individuals on the list, including Professor Yellon and Professor Davidson. The top 3 institutions were the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harvard University and Stanford University.

The full report and list of 2023 recipients can be seen here:


August 10th, 2023 – Hatter Cardiovascular Institute Awarded 2 New UCL Grants

The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute is pleased to announce it has been successful in two recent UCL  calls.

The first award is from the UCL Translational Research Office, under the Therapeutic Acceleration Support (TAS) Call 10, which received an unprecedented number of applications. The award will support further research investigating protection of the heart with a novel small-molecule activator of the PI3Kα pathway. Myocardial infarction (heart attack) continues to be a major cause of mortality and morbidity world-wide. Based on our earlier research, which demonstrated the PI3Kα isoform enables cardioprotection by importantly reducing the myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury experienced during a myocardial infarction, our team then went on to discover a novel compound of this isoform which was recently published in Nature. We now endeavour to progress this compound further through a  translational pathway by undertaking ex vivo work using human myocardial tissue as a means of an initial step towards clinical translation. We believe this small-molecule PI3Kα activator could be a first-line therapy in patients experiencing myocardial infarction and be administered prior to reperfusion treatment in hospital, thus preventing irrevocable cardiac damage from heart attack.

Second, The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute has also been awarded funding from the UCL Global Engagement Fund. This programme provides support to UCL staff to collaborate with colleagues across the world, supporting a wide variety of activities including education, capacity building, global policy, and quality research initiatives. Together with the University of Cape Town, The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute has undertaken a pan-African clinical study, RIC Africa, with 4 African countries including South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Kenya. This multi-country study, termed RIC-Africa, has established a research alliance between these 4 African countries, with ourselves at UCL as Lead. The RIC Africa study aims to evaluate a cardioprotective strategy that we have developed in the setting of high-risk patients who present with an acute myocardial infarction. Support from the UCL Global Engagement Fund will allow the Principal Investigators to hold a second annual meeting to importantly discuss in person the study progress, address challenges and pursue further funding opportunities.

We are grateful to these UCL programmes for their support which will allow us to progress our research and continue to work towards realising real-world benefit. Congratulations to our team in being recognised for their hard work and valuable research contributions.

23rd June, 2023 – The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute iBSc Student Awarded Top Research Lab Project

The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute had, this year, the pleasure of again supervising and mentoring top iBSc students in our laboratory. We are pleased to announce our student, Ms Meriam Abdelmoumene, has been recognised for her work, supervised by Prof Sean Davidson, with the award for the highest score in the wet research lab project category. This accomplishment means she will now be further nominated for the H.A.B. Simmons prize to be announced shortly.

Last year, another iBSc student at The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, Ms Sumayyah Tahsin, received top marks for her research project and went on to win the the 2022 UCL Population Health Sciences Faculty Medal (read story here).

This year on year success of iBSc students under our supervision highlights the leadership and expertise of the team at the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, of which we are very proud.

Many congratulations Meriam, we wish you the best of luck with the H.A.B. Simmons prize and all your future research endeavours!

30th May, 2023 – New Research by the HCI on Cardioprotection Published in Nature

In new research published this week in the prestigious journal Nature, The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute at UCL has demonstrated that a new drug called UCL-TRO-1938 is able to protect the heart from injury in experimental models of heart attack. UCL-TRO-1938 was developed as part of a large collaboration with colleagues at UCL, Cambridge University, and elsewhere, as a drug able to directly activate the PI3K∝ isoform associated with the RISK pathway. The RISK pathway (or “Reperfusion Injury Salvage Kinase pathway”) first described by Prof Derek Yellon, Director of the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute,  is an important pro-survival signalling pathway capable of protecting the heart from injury. Prof Yellon, Prof Davidson, and researchers at the Institute are now extending their studies to evaluate whether UCL-TRO-1938 might also be beneficial in related diseases where there is organ damage due to blockage in blood supply, such as ischaemic stroke.

When a patient arrives at hospital with an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) the first thing that needs to occur is for the immediate removal of the clot in the coronary and the rapid re-establishment of coronary artery blood flow (termed reperfusion). However, the process of reperfusion itself comes at a price in what has been termed “reperfusion-induced injury”. As such designing drugs to prevent reperfusion-induced injury has been the goal of basic & clinical scientists for many years. The British Heart Foundation has supported the research undertaken in the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute at UCL for over 20 years and could now be rewarded with the identification of this new compound, UCL-TRO-1938, which can protect the heart from injury following a heart attack.

The research within the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute at UCL, led by Prof Derek Yellon, has focused on the ability to activate pro-survival pathways in the cell, which can subsequently protect the muscle following a myocardial infarction or heart attack. This, pro-survival signalling pathway, was initially proposed by researchers at the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute in 2002 and called the “RISK pathway”.  Numerous studies were subsequently undertaken to demonstrate the ability of this pathway to protect the heart as well as investigate its downstream targets. This was followed by assessing which specific subtype or isoform of the PI3 Kinase pathway would offer the most protection.

Scientists within the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute undertook a range of fundamental studies and discovered that the alpha isoform of PI3 Kinase appeared to be the one that offered the most promise. As such, in a collaboration with the Cancer Institute at UCL, AstraZeneca (in their open innovation programme) and UCL’s Drug discovery group they developed a new compound which specifically activates the PI3K∝ isoform. This compound, UCL-TRO-1938, has been shown in experimental studies to protect the heart from ischaemia-reperfusion injury as well as enhance nerve regeneration and could lead to this class of drugs and therapies being used for a wide range of conditions.

Read our new Nature paper on the UCL-TRO-1938 compound here.

For further background, our recent review summarizing more than 3 decades of research in the field of cardioprotection that have highlighted the significance of the RISK pathway in the treatment of Ischaemic Reperfusion Injury can be read here.


6th May, 2023 – Inaugural RIC Africa PI Meeting Held in Cape Town

An inaugural meeting of RIC Africa Principal Investigators was held on May 6th at the Cape Heart Centre, University of Cape Town, South Africa.  This provided an excellent opportunity for site investigators from participating countries to meet, share experiences of recruiting to the study, and discuss challenges and areas for improvement as we move ahead. The meeting provided an informative and interactive forum, fostering great discussion and camaraderie. We aim to make this an annual event for the duration of the RIC Africa trial.

Acute myocardial infarction and heart failure that follows are among leading causes of death and disability in sub-Saharan Africa.  In these low-and middle-income countries (LMIC) availability and access to modern, expensive infrastructure and interventions such as PPCI are limited and unlikely to change in the near future. As a result, of the STEMI patients who receive reperfusion, the majority are treated by thrombolysis and are more likely to develop heart failure and death post-STEMI, highlighting the higher-risk patient population. As a result, there remains an urgent unmet need to discover novel therapeutic interventions to improve clinical outcomes and prevent the onset of heart failure following STEMI in LMICs. The RIC-AFRICA trial was established to investigate whether remote ischaemic conditioning (RIC) can improve clinical outcomes in these higher-risk STEMI patients in sub-Saharan Africa treated by thrombolysis.

The RIC-AFRICA trial began a small pilot for recruitment in January 2022 to assess feasibility of undertaking this study in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and is now actively recruiting in 17 hospital sites across 4 countries: South Africa, Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. Sadly, our Sudanese colleagues were unable to attend the meeting and we wish them all a peaceful outcome of the current troubles happening there. Many thanks to all of our investigators and their clinical teams, we are so grateful for your participation.


4th April, 2023 – Dr Lucie Pearce Completes Paris Marathon for CRY

We are proud to report that Dr Lucie Pearce, BHF Clinical Research Fellow at The Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, has completed the Paris Marathon in a time of 5 hours and 27 minutes! Dr Pearce ran the marathon on behalf of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), an important charity focussed on preventing young sudden cardiac deaths through awareness, screening, and research, and supporting affected families.

With an injury making her unable to complete the London Marathon in October, Dr Pearce re-channelled her focus to Paris and was able to run a remarkable race. Through her efforts, Dr Pearce was able to raise £1500 for CRY to continue their valuable work.

Further information on CRY can be found here (

Congratulations Lucie!

24th January, 2023 – UCL-Wellington Clinical Fellowships Open to Cardiology & Neurology Applicants

The 2023 Wellington Clinical Fellowship scheme is now open for applications. In this new round, applications are sought from clinical trainees in both Cardiology and Neurology.

UCL and the Wellington Hospital (HCA Healthcare UK) are partners in a long-standing programme in which Fellows study for a PhD in the UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science while working at the UK’s largest private hospital providing specialist complex care.

Fellow are employed by the Wellington Hospital where they will undertake a 1:6 on call,  with the rest of their time dedicated to their research at the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute at UCL. The Wellington Hospital covers (i) annual salary, (ii) PhD fees (part time), in addition to (iii) offering £10K max consumable costs p.a.  For this current round we are recruiting for one Cardiology Trainee (an exclusively cardiovascular PhD) and one Neurology Trainee (focussed on neuroprotection following ischaemic stroke).

We welcome all applicants who are medically qualified, GMC registered and have MRCP. The scheme is open only to UK/EEA nationals due to funding restrictions.

To apply, please visit the HCA website here.

Closes: 28th February 2023