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Alister McNeish

Alister McNeish

Areas of interest

I have a passion for studying, and being part of the fight to eradicate cardiovascular disease which is the leading cause of mortality in the UK. 

While treatments are constantly improving, with our ageing population and poor lifestyles the incidence of cardiovascular disease is increasing. There is a pressing need for new and better treatments for these diseases alongside preventative strategies. 

My main research 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 helps us develop new strategies for regulating blood flow and blood pressure; perhaps leading to new treatments for cardiovascular diseases. 

My current work focuses on using pharmacology to understand the effects of compounds derived from natural products on our cardiovascular system. For example to work out the biological mechanisms involved in the vascular responses to omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils). My recent research suggests these compounds have drug like effects on a type of protein found in the membrane of vascular cells; potassium channels. I have also recently studied the effect of the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) in epilepsy and am currently investigating some of the cardiovascular effects of this and other cannabinoids in the vasculature.


I currently teach on the Pharmacology BSc, Masters Physician Associate and MPharm programmes, focussing on pharmacology and cardiovascular therapeutics. 

Research centres and groups

My research forms part of the University of Reading's Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR). I also have close links to researchers in the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN). I have active collaborations with research groups both nationally (Queen Mary’s and St Georges University of London) and internationally (Linköping university, Sweden).

Research projects

I currently have two projects funded by the British Heart Foundation, investigating the mechanism underlying vascular effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on different types of potassium channels. Past projects have been funded by the Royal Society, Innovate UK and GW Pharmaceuticals.

Professional bodies/affiliations