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Dr Sean Davidson
3rd floor
The Hatter Cardiovascular Inst
67 Chenies Mews
  • Principal Research Associate
  • Pre-clinical & Fundamental Science
  • Institute of Cardiovascular Science
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

Sean Davidson obtained his PhD in Melbourne, Australia on the regulation of heat shock proteins (HSPs) and protection from stress. During a postdoctoral position at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, he demonstrated that certain members of this protein family called “small heat shock proteins” are also essential for early cardiac development. He moved to London in 1998 and is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute at University College London, where he works on developing methods to protect the heart from ischaemia and reperfusion injury. In the last few years, through a grant from the Medical Research Council, he has been exploring the potential intracellular signalling role of endogenous nanoparticles called exosomes, as well as their role in cardioprotection. Via this circuitous route, his research has returned full circle to where it began, on the importance of heat shock proteins – which turn out to be major components of exosomes. 

Research Summary

I am a principal research associate at the Hatter Cardiovascular Inst, investigating cardiac injury during ischaemia and reperfusion. The aim is eventually to find new ways of preserving the heart from injury during a heart attack.

Two of my main topics of interest are exosomes and SDF-1. Exosomes are nano-sized vesicles which can communicate between cells, carrying proteins and miRNA. We have shown that exosomes in the blood are cardioprotective and are studying the mechanism, and their role. We are learning how to harness the power of exosomes to the benefit of patients. SDF-1 is a chemo-attractant cytokine - or a "chemokine" - which can attract stem cells to the heart, and can also directly activate signaling pathways in the heart. We are developing novel reagents to detect SDF-1, understand its role in the heart, and to deliver it to the heart therapeutically.

One of my favourite techniques is to use powerful imaging techniques such as confocal and multiphoton microscopy to visualize real-time, physiological changes in cardiac cells and hearts. Using fluorescent dyes it is possible to detect changes in such important parameters as oxidative stress, Calcium, and mitochondrial activity.

Teaching Summary
I lecture on numerous UCL courses including the following :

 IMIN3004         Molecular Pathology

 BIOC3017         Molecular Basis of Cardiovascular Disease

 PHOL2001        Animal and Human Physiology, (Cardiovascular system 1 & 2) **

 PHOL3002        Heart & Circulation course

 MBBS               Circulation & Breathing                               

 MSC                  Cardiovascular Science

I also co-ordinate and teach on the SSC "cardiovascular medicine" for first year medical students.

01-SEP-2016 Principal Research Associate Institute of Cardiovascular Science University College London, United Kingdom
Academic Background
1998 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Biochemistry To be updated
1991 BSc Hons Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Biochemistry University of Melbourne
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