You are here: Home BHF Centre of Research Excellence Researchers Paul Riley

Paul Riley

Chair of Development and Reproduction and BHF Professor of Regenerative Medicine
Cardiovascular development, repair and regeneration

Divisional Research Themes

  • Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
  • Cardiovascular Science

Cardiovascular subthemes

Group Members

  • Dr Nicola Smart, BHF Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellow
  • Dr Sveva Bollini, Post-doctoral Fellow
  • Dr Filipa da Costa Simoes, Post-doctoral Fellow
  • Dr Jana Koch, Post-doctoral Fellow (joint with Prof Roger Patient)
  • Dr Anke Smits, Post-doctoral Fellow
  • Dr Joaquim Vieira, Post-doctoral Fellow
  • Dr Mark Evans, Lab Manager
  • Richard Tyser, PhD student
  • Dr Catherine Risebro, Post-doctoral Fellow, UCL ICH
  • Gemma Balmer, PhD student, UCL ICH
  • Karina Dube, PhD student, UCL ICH
  • Sara Howard, PhD student, UCL ICH
  • Linda Klotz, PhD student, UCL ICH
  • Lousia Petchey, PhD student, UCL ICH
  • Abbygail Shaw, PhD student, UCL ICH
  • Dr Chia Yeo, PhD student, UCL ICH


Selected Publications

Web Personal Website
Department Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics
College Jesus College
Paul Riley

Prof Paul Riley

Major Research Programme

To investigate the potential of the epicardium as a source of multipotent cardiovascular progenitor cells in the adult heart capable of initiating neovascularisation and myocardial repair.

Left: E9.5 GFP+ mouse heart; Right: Histological section through human foetal heart (Carnegie Stage 18)   


Left: Adult mouse heart section: red, muscle; green, epicardium/vessels. Right: Highlighted in red: epicardium and coronary arteries

The application of epicardial cell biology to treatment of cardiovascular injury originates from the epicardium’s developmental plasticity and from the ability to reactivate these properties in the adult heart. The embryology underlying epicardium-derived cells (EPDCs) sets them apart from other adult cardiac stem cell populations and provides the rational underpinning prospective pharmacological and genetic manipulations aimed at mobilising and guiding these cells towards regenerating the injured adult heart.

Left: GFP-labelled epicardium derived cells (EPDCs) in culture. Right: Adult explant and emerging EPDCs. 


•    To define the regenerative potential of activated adult EPDCs, as directly compared to their developmental counterparts
•    To determine the molecular signature which defines the active population and mechanistically how these cells can be reprogrammed towards embryonic potency
•    To identify novel inducers and signalling pathways which might be extrapolated to human EPDCs and facilitate drug discovery.

Left: Thymosin beta4-induced adult neovascularisation within an expanded epicardium. Right: De novo EPDC-derived cardiomyocyte coupled to surviving
                                                      myocardium after injury.

Sources of Funding


Paul Riley took up the Chair of Development and Reproduction in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics on 1st October 2011, having been awarded a British Heart Foundation Personal Chair of Regenerative Medicine to support this position.  He was previously Professor of Molecular Cardiology at the UCL-Institute of Child Health, London, where he was a principal investigator within the Molecular Medicine Unit at UCL-ICH since 1999.  Prior to this, he obtained his PhD at UCL (1992-1995) and completed post-doctoral fellowships at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Toronto, Canada and the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford (1996-1999). In 2008, Professor Riley was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Council on Basic Sciences.  The award recognises a landmark discovery in the field of basic cardiovascular science when his team found that Thymosin b4 could mobilise dormant cells from adult epicardium to form new blood vessels in the heart, a major step towards finding a DIY mechanism to repair injury following a heart attack.