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Dr Alicia D’Souza is a cardiac physiologist and a British Heart Foundation Basic Science Intermediate Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. Following PhD studies on the physiology of the diabetic heart (awarded June 2011, University of Central Lancashire), her research has focused on the transcriptional dysregulation of cardiac ion channels, a key pro-arrhythmic mechanism. Funded by the British Heart Foundation, her work so far has investigated microRNA and transcription factor-control of ion channels with specific emphasis on the cardiac conduction system in athletic training and during the circadian rhythm. In these settings, she has identified (i) a critical role for transcriptional remodelling of the key pacemaking ion channel, HCN4, and a corresponding reduction in its ionic current If  (ii) novel regulators of If namely microRNA-423-5p, NKX2.5 and BMAL1. These findings overturn current thinking on the mechanisms that underlie bradyarrhythmias, especially in athletes. 

Based on these data, her team is currently investigating the involvement of microRNAs in common endurance training-induced arrhythmias (heart block and atrial fibrillation). In addition to a primary focus on training, with further BHF support Alicia is also investigating control of pacemaking ion channels by the circadian clock and its potential interactions with the autonomic nervous system.  The group adopts an integrative approach - combining whole-organism (large and small animal), tissue and single cell studies of physiology with cutting edge genomic technologies in understanding the epigenetic basis of ion channel plasticity.

Alicia’s work has been publicised in the popular media (e.g. on the BBC) and has attracted numerous International and Society Prizes. She attributes this success, in no small part, to to fantastic mentorship within the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences and local, national and international collaborations across a range of disciplines.


Prizes and awards

2019:  International Society for Heart Research Richard J Bing award finalist (competition June 2019)

2019:  University of Manchester ‘Researcher in the Spotlight’

2018:  Editorial Board Fellowship of The Journal of Physiology (inaugural)

2017:  Physiological Society (inaugural) R Jean Banister Prize Lecture 

2016:  Cairn Research (inaugural) New and Notable Prize Lecture

2015:   AHA Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Young Investigator Travel Award

2015:   European Society of Cardiology First Contact Initiative Award

2014:   International Society for Heart Research/Servier Fellowship Prize

2014:   Finalist, Bernard and Joan Marshall Young Investigator Award, British Society for  Cardiovascular Research

2014:  Finalist, Grant N Pierce Award, Winnipeg Cardiovascular Forum, Canada

2013:  First prize for oral presentation, NHS Central Manchester Foundation Trust Research and Innovation Conference

2013:   American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions International Travel Award

2013:   British Parliamentary and Scientific committee GW Mendel Medal finalist

2011:   Physiological Society study award for collaborative overseas research at the Institute of Functional Genomics, France

2010:    First prize for abstract presentation,Meeting of the Physiological Society, Astra Zeneca, Macclesfield

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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