Professor Heather Wilson

Professor Heather Wilson
Professor Heather Wilson
Professor Heather Wilson

BSc (Biochemistry) PhD

Chair in Immunology

Accepting PhDs

Email Address
Telephone Number
+44 (0)1224 437350
Office Address

Immunity and Infection Programme Lead
University of Aberdeen, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition
Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), Office 3.24, Lab 4.49/4.51/1.16
College of Life Sciences and Medicine
Foresterhill Health Campus

AB25 2ZD

School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition



I graduated with a first class honours degree in Biochemistry  and was awarded a Carnegie prize scholarship to fund my PhD investigating lipid mediators driving coronary heart disease (awarded 1990). My early postdoctoral years focussed on factors mediating the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis and progression of glomerulonephritis to end stage renal disease. I was awarded MRC, Kidney Research UK and British Heart Foundation funding to continue my research on the effects of macrophage inflammatory mediators on controlling glomerular extracellular matrix turnover and how increased deposition and/or decreased protease degradation resulted in renal scarring. A further MRC funded project directed my research interests to the earlier inflammatory stage of nephritis and the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling inflammation, focussing on the role of macrophages in experimental models. I was appointed to Lecturer in 2008, promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2013 then awarded a personal chair in 2019. My current research is primarily directed towards understanding the signalling pathways that control macrophage activation and function, especially in inflammmatory diseases including nephritis, atherosclerosis and wound healing. I also have interests in macrophage signalling pathways relating to infection control focussing on Candida albicans

I teach on and coordinate BSc, MSc and MBChB courses with a primary focus on inflammation and human disease. I am Chair of Foresterhill Biological Safety Committee and programme Co-lead for the Immunity and Infection research programme. I am a reviewer for NHS Grampian Biorepositiry tissue bank.

I am an active member of the Renal Association, British Society of Immunology and Biochemical Society. I have external examining roles at University of Bristol and have examined many external MSc and PhD thesis. I mentor for the Carnegie Trust Future Leaders programme and an ambassador for promoting career development of ECRs.



  • BSc Biochemistry 
    1987 - University of Aberdeen 
  • PhD Biochemistry 
    1990 - University of Aberdeen 

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships

Foresterhill Biological Safety committee chair

Academic line manager

Programme co-lead Immunity and infection


External Memberships


Committees: Elected member of Renal Association, renal scientists working party (elected 2005 for 5 years) and education and training committee (2010)

Mentor for Carnegie scholars

Editorial Boards: Frontiers in Immunology, World Journal of Immunology

Ad hoc reviewer -Kidney International, Experimental Cell Research, Nephron-Experimental Nephrology, Journal of Leukocyte Biology, British Journal of Pharmacology, Journal of Immunology, European Journal of Neurology, Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Journal of Vascular Research, Journal of American Society of Nephrology.

Grant reviewer: Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council (MRC), Heart Research UK, Medical Research Scotland 

Committe member for Grampian NHS Biorepository ethics Committee


Research Overview


My research interests are directed towards a better understanding of the role of macrophages and other immune cells in controlling the pathogenesis of inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases. I have focussed primarily on the factors that polarise macrophage functions to pro- or anti-inflammatory subsets and the ways in which differentially activated macrophage subsets regulate tissue injury or tissue repair, especially in rodent models of nephritis and human atherosclerosis, wound healing and cancer. The aim is to be able to control immune and inflammatory mediated diseases by manipulating macrophage function. For this I am dissecting the role of the intracellular signalling pathways that direct macrophage activation, and how these pathways can be switched to exploit macrophage reparative attributes and restore regulation to the inflammatory response. I have developed a multitude of techniques to efficiently isolate tissue infiltrating macrophages and analyse their intracellular signalling pathways and using these have, for example, demonstrated that inhibiting the SOCS3 and PTP1B induces macrophages to become profoundly anti-inflammatory when exposed an inflamed environment.  I also have projects studing how  changing macrophage function in infection e.g. by clinical drugs can alter the outcome and the implications of this.


Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Biological and Environmental Sciences, Biomedical Sciences.

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me

Biological and Environmental Sciences

Accepting PhDs

Biomedical Sciences

Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Medical Sciences
  • Pathology
  • Biological Sciences
  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research


My research is currently focussed on manipulating macrophage function using  physiological inhibitors. I am also exploring potential biomarkers of macrophage activity in macrophage mediated diseases (glomerulonephritis, atherosclerosis, wound healing and cancer) to establish the phenotype, function and balance of macrophage functional subsets throughout the pathogenesis of these diseases to provide pointers as to the most effective therapeutic strategies to manipulate macrophage activity and restore tissue homeostasis.

When tissues are wounded, direct current extracellular electric fields are established. Moreover synthetically applied electric fields can speed up healing and reduce inflammation in chronic wounds. The group is also determining how small electric fields, influence the polarisation and antibacterial/wound reparative properties of macrophages and activation and proliferation of T cell subsets. Another physical stimulus we are showing to influence macrophage function is shockwave therapy that can alter the functions of macrophages to accelerate the healing properties in chronic wounds.

A third area of research is determining how manipulating immune cell function, for example using clinical drugs, can change the susceptibility to infection and the pathways essential for this. For example, we are currently researching and have shown that inhibition of PTP1B is important in regulating infection susceptibility to Candida albicans.

PhD projects on offer

The impact of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulators on immune cell function following microbial infection at Aberdeen University on

Masters by research projects on offer

MSc By Research: The biological impact of anti-diabetic therapy on susceptibility to fungal infection at Aberdeen University on

Funding and Grants


Vickers M, Wilson HM, Campbell J. Reprogramming the innate immune system to treat malignancy: targeting ovarian cancer. Medical Research Scotland 2020-2024.


McEwan IJ, Wilson HM, Dundas S. Impact of the immune landscape on androgen ablation therapy and progression to therapy-resistant disease. Eastbio studentship 2020-2024.


Vickers M, Wilson HM Vickers M, Wilson HM. High mannose exposure on blood cells and development of new therapeutic modalities for sickle cell disease and cancer. (Clinical Fellowship for Dr Charlotte Robertson). Friends of Anchor. 2020-2022.  £160,811


Thompson D, Delibegovic M, Wilson HM. The FPR2 ligand W-peptide: A new therapeutic approach to treat atherosclerosis. British Heart Foundation 2020-2023 £252,229 PG/19/30/34327


Galley HM, Wilson HM.  Interactions between melatonin and endogenous opioid peptide release from macrophages. British Journal of Anaesthesia/Royal College of anaesthesia.2019-2022 £89,426


Delibegovic M, Wilson HM, Baker D. Potential new strategies for the treatment of kidney disease due to diabetes. Medical Research Scotland, 2019-2023 £115133

Gibson I, Wilson HM Can regenerative medicine scaffolds efficiently modulate the immune response to improve the outcome of bone tissue repair? Eastbio studentship 2019-2023


Mclean M, Wilson HM. Interleukin-27 as a new therapy for acute severe inflammatory bowel disease. Cunningham Trust 2019-2022, £85429


Wilson HM, Vickers M. Cao, H. Development of potential new diagnostics and therapies for sickle cell anaemia. Friends of Anchor 2018-2020, £15000


Wilson HM, Forrester JV, Kuffova L. Using potential antigen-specific regulatory T cells as a novel therapeutic strategy to ameliorate autoimmune uveitis. Fight for Sight 2018-2020 £199508


Wilson HM Camera upgrade for the UltraVIEW Spinning Disk confocal live cell microscope. Friends of Anchor.  £20,410


Wilson HM, Cooper B Clinical benefits and mechanism of action of shock wave therapy for healing chronic venous ulcers. NHS Grampian Endowment Funds. £11,302


Murray F, Dawson D & Wilson HM Stress-induced heart disease G17.10 Tenovus 2017-2018 £11,750


Delibegovic M, Wilson HM, Rajnicek A Inhibition of macrophage protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) as a novel therapy for improved wound healing in diabetes. Diabetes UK 2017-2019 £ 165735


Mclean M, Wilson HM & Murray G. The role of HMBG1 in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer. Friends of Anchor. 2017-2018 £9757


Wilson HM, Delibegovic M, Brown GD, Arthur S. The role of innate cell PTP1B in susceptibility to infection. EastBio DTP studentship. 2017-2021


Nixon G, Wilson HM. Inhibiting angiogenesis in human aortic valves: a new therapeutic target. British Heart Foundation studentship 2017-2020. £107465


Wilson HM, Delibegovic M, Brown GD. Unravelling the role of innate cell PTP1B in controlling susceptibility to fungal infection.  Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund Seedcorn Award. £18,184


Nixon G, Wilson HM. Inhibiting angiogenesis in human aortic valves: a new therapeutic target. British Heart Foundation studentship 2017-2020. £107465


Mclean M, Wilson HM, Murray G. Interleukin 27 (IL-27) as a new therapy for inflammatory bowel disease-defining IL-27 evoked responses in the gastrointestinal epithelial barrier. NHS Grampian Endowment Funds. 2017-2018, £11850


Wilson HM, Delibegovic. New treatments for diabetic nephropathy. NHS Grampian Endowment Funds. 2017-2018, £11911


Hislop J, Wilson HM, Thompson D. Formyl Peptide Receptors:  A potential target in the design of anti-inflammatory therapeutics for the treatment of Sepsis. NHS Grampian Endowment Funds. 2017-2018, £9139


McLean M & Wilson HM Interleukin-27 responses in inflammatory bowel disease - a potential new therapeutic? CIRCA PhD studentship; 2016-2020; £116,786


Dawson D, Wilson HM, Newby D, Ahearn T, Dweck M, Semple S, Kerr K, Brown PAJ “A study into the inflammatory mechanisms and protracted recovery of tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy” BHF Project Grant; 2016-2019; £348,855


Delibegovic M, Wilson HM, Mody N, Dawson D, Whitfield P, Brown PAJ.  Effects of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B) inhibition on inflammation and atherosclerosis development. British Heart Foundation 2015-2017  £236,108


Wilson HM Smith & Nephew award 2015-2016 £4000


Crane I & Wilson HM Monocyte subset markers as biomarkers in asthma . NHS Grampian Endowment Funds. 2015-2016  £5525


Wilson HM & Rajnicek A Electrical stimulation to enhance macrophage function and accelerate wound healing NHS Grampian Endowment Funds. 2015-2016 £11,985


Thompson D, Brittenden J, Delibegovic M, Wilson HM  PTP1B Inhibition: A potential new target in the treatment of atherosclerosis. NHS Grampian Endowment Funds. 2015-2016 £11,163                                                                                    


Wilson HM & Morley T. Novel small molecule modulators of the antioxidant response pathway: potential for therapy in cancer/inflammatory disease. Medical Research Scotland. 2012-16.   £110,803


Wilson HM & Erwig LP The role of macrophage SOCS3 in the pathogenesis of renal disease. Kidney Research UK. 2013-15. £119,513


Wilson HM, Barker RN, McCaig.  Electric Fields – A novel regulators of macrophage activity. Institute of Medical Sciences Studentship. 2011-15.                                            £72760


Wilson HM Targeting macrophage SOCS3 for therapy in human renal disease NHS Grampian Endowments Fund. 2012-2013. £7365


Houslay M  MacNee W, Wilson HM, Arthur S, Novel drugs for treatment of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  SULSA 2013-14  £59,073


Nixon G & Wilson HM. The role of sphingolipids in monocyte binding: a potential therapeutic target in restenosis. British Heart Foundation 2013-2016   £104,438


Delibegovic M, Wilson HM, Brown PAJ.  Effects of Dietary Methionine Restriction on Kidney Pathology and Insulin NHS Grampian Endowment Funds. 2014-2015   £12000


Dawson D, Wilson HM, Kerr K, Liversidge J. Targeting the inflammation mechanism in stress-induced acute cardiomyopathy. NHS Grampian Endowment Funds. 2014-2015                                                          

2006-2010. Medical Research Council - Deviating macrophage activation in glomerulonephritis by SOCS proteins.


Teaching Responsibilities


IM3501 Fundamentals of Immunology -course co-ordinator

IM3502 Applied Immunology - Human Health -course co-ordinator

Honours Immunology IM4007- Immunity and infection - course coordinator

Honours Immunology IM4005-Current Topics in Immunology-course coordinator

IM4006 current research in immunology - course coordinator

IM4307 option 2 immunology

Teach on

BM5502 MSc Immunology in Health and Disease

MB5028 MSc Cardiovascular Science and Diabetes

MB5518 MSc Research tutorials

MB5903 MSc Research projects

BA3004 Biochemical Pharmacology and Toxicology

Year1 MBChB (medicine) Science for Medicine

Year 1 MBChB (medicine) Student selected component (Immunology & Infection) co-ordinator

BM4009 Staying alive, adaptations in physiological systems

BT5007 Industrial projects

BI25M7 Energy for Life

External roles

External Examiner for the BSc Clinical Science unit/programme(s) in the Bristol Medical School


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