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Alister McNeish

  • Pharmacy Examinations Officer
  • Outreach Coordinator

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) 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 the 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).

I also have a keen interest in disseminating science to schools and the general public.


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. 

Research centres and groups

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 3 to 6 September 2017 in Manchester UK.

Research projects

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

Professional bodies/affiliations