Staff Profile:Dr Alister McNeish

Position / Job Title:
Lecturer in Pharmacology
  • School Director of Outreach for the School of Chemistry, Food, and Pharmacy (SCFP)
  • Outreach co-ordinator for Pharmacy
Areas of Interest:

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality in the UK and in our aging population the incidence of cardiovascular disease is increasing. Therefore there is a pressing need for new and better treatments for these diseases. My main focus is on vascular pharmacology. In particular how the endothelial cells, which line inside of blood vessels, communicate and modulate the degree of constriction of the smooth muscle cells that form the wall of blood vessels. Understanding these processes help us develop new strategies for regulating blood flow and blood pressure; perhaps leading to new treatments for cardiovascular diseases. My work falls roughly in to four inter-related themes:

  1. Regulation of calcium-activated potassium channels (KCa) and Transient Receptor Potential channels (TRP) found in the endothelium. These channels play a critical role in endothelium derived hyperpolarization (EDH) mediated responses and regulation of blood pressure/flow. This theme also encompasses how such regulation affects EDH responses.
  2. Characterisation and elucidation of the mechanisms that underlie endothelium dependent hyperpolarization, particularly in the cerebral vasculature with a particular focus on the role of fatty acid derived metabolites (including omega-3 fatty acids) and reactive oxygen species on these responses.
  3. The study of "food factors" like omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils), flavonoids and polyphenolic acids on vascular and endothelial cell function in heath and disease.
  4. The role of the endothelium in regulating spontaneous vasoconstrictor tone (myogenic tone) in smooth muscle cells. This has implications on vasomotion (a coordinated oscillatory relaxation and constriction of blood vessels) and vasospasm (uncontrolled vasoconstriction associated with strokes and heart attacks).

My research forms part of the University of Reading's Institute for Cardiovascular & Metabolic Research, and is currently funded by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) and the British Heart Foundation.

As well as research, I have an active role in university and academic life. I teach on the MPharm programme, focussing on pharmacology and cardiovascular therapeutics. I also have a keen interest in disseminating science to schools and the general public; I am School director of Outreach for SCFP, Outreach Coordinator for the Reading School of Pharmacy and a member of the Policy and Public Engagement committee at the British Pharmacological Society . I am a member of the British Pharmacological Society where I am. I am also a member of The Physiological Society, Microcirculation Society, and British Society for Cardiovascular Research. I serve on the editorial boards of the British Journal of Pharmacology and Frontiers in Vascular Physiology as well as being a reviewer for numerous international peer reviewed journals and Research Charities. I am currently a member of the local organising committee for the 12th International Symposium of Resistance Arteries (ISRA 2017), which is being held 3rd to 6th September 2017 in Manchester UK.

Research groups / Centres:
  1. McNeish, A.J., Altayo-Jimenez, F., Cottrell, G. and Garland, C. (2012) Statins and selective inhibition of Rho kinase protect small conductance calcium-activated potassium channel function (KCa2.3) in cerebral arteries. PLoS ONE, 7 (10). e46735. ISSN 1932-6203 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046735 (Corresponding author)
  2. McNeish, A.J., Roux, B. T., Aylett, S.-B. , Massen Van Den Brink, A. and Cottrell, G. S. (2012) Endosomal proteolysis regulates calcitonin gene-related peptide responses in mesenteric arteries. British Journal of Pharmacology, 167 (8). pp. 1679-1690. ISSN 1476-5381 doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.02129.x
  3. McNeish AJ, Altayo FJ, Garland CJ. Evidence both L-type and non-L-type voltage-dependent calcium channels contribute to cerebral artery vasospasm following loss of NO in the rat. Vascul Pharmacol. 2010 Sep-Oct;53(3-4):151-9.
  4. Yuill KH, McNeish A.J., Kansui Y, Garland CJ, Dora KA. Nitric oxide suppresses cerebral vasomotion by sGC-independent effects on ryanodine receptors and voltage-gated calcium channels. J Vasc Res. 2010;47(2):93-107. Epub 2009 Sep 4. PubMed PMID: 19729956. (Joint 1st Author)
  5. Dora KA, Gallagher NT, McNeish A, Garland CJ. (2008) Modulation of Endothelial Cell KCa3.1 Channels during Endothelium-Derived Hyperpolarizing Factor Signalling in Mesenteric Resistance Arteries. Circ. Res., 102, 1247-1255. Pubmed PMID: PMC2629615
  6. McNeish A.J., Garland CJ. Thromboxane A2 inhibition of SKCa after NO synthase block in rat middle cerebral artery. Br J Pharmacol. 2007 Jun; 151(4):441-9. Epub 2007 Apr 10. PubMed PMID: 17420777; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2013971.
  7. McNeish A.J., Sandow SL, Neylon CB, Chen MX, Dora KA, Garland CJ. Evidence for involvement of both IKCa and SKCa channels in hyperpolarizing responses of the rat middle cerebral artery. Stroke. 2006 May;37(5):1277-82. Epub 2006 Mar 23. PubMed PMID: 16556879.

Contact Details


+44 (0)118 378 8256

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See also

  • School of Pharmacy


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