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Nicola Smart

BHF Ian Fleming Fellow and Professor of Cardiovascular Science

Following a PhD investigating mechanisms of PKC signalling at the University of London, I undertook postdoctoral research at King’s College London, exploring the signal transduction pathways that underlie cardiac ischaemic injury. I subsequently joined Professor Paul Riley’s group at the UCL-Institute of Child Health to study myocardial and coronary vessel development. Studies of the embryonic heart, including the identification of cardiovascular progenitors, are instructive towards understanding how to manipulate a regenerative response in the adult and this paradigm is the underlying basis of my research. Specifically, our work has revealed the potential to reactivate dormant adult epicardial cells to unleash a source of cardiac progenitors for repair of the injured heart. Similarly, from our studies on vascular development in the embryo, novel insights have emerged into mechanisms that serve to maintain vessel stability throughout adult life. I joined the Department in June 2012 and was awarded a British Heart Foundation Senior Basic Science Research Fellowship, recently renewed for a further 5 years. I was fortunate to be selected to receive funds raised by the Fleming family to support the BHF in marking the centenary of the James Bond creator, Ian Fleming. The family continue to support our research and visit the lab to follow our progress. I was awarded the inaugural BHF Research Fellow of the Year in 2011, the British Cardiovascular Society’s Michael Davies Early Career Award in 2012 and the British Atherosclerosis Society John French Lecture in 2021.

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