Dr Heidi Sowter

Position: Reader in Oncology

College: College of Life & Natural Sciences

Department: Biosciences

Subject area: Biological Sciences

Research Centre: Health and Social Care Research Centre

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Programme Leader for BSc (Hons) Human Biology.

Teaching responsibilities

I teach on Genetics, Independent Studies in Human Health, Human Biology, Oncology and Immunology, Human Reproduction, Molecular Biology, The Cell, Research Methods in Human Biology, Human Biology and Healthcare, Cell Signalling and Human Physiology in Health and Disease.

My specialised teaching areas are those of human biology.

Professional interests

I have a strong interest in graduate employability, and in addition to helping students to develop transferable skills, I run a series of internships over the summer and can help with placement opportunities.

Research interests

My research is mainly focussed on ovarian cancer, and I am currently investigating the early changes that arise in ovarian cells and potential new treatments for progressive disease. I was the Chief Investigator of two clinical trials; one that investigated whether practising Yoga has a beneficial effect for patients undergoing treatment for gynaecological cancers, and one exploring if inspiratory muscle training can help alleviate symptoms of breathlessness for advanced cancer patients.

Membership of professional bodies

  • American Association for Cancer Research (associate member no: AACR63616)
  • British Association for Cancer Research (member no: BAC100220)


Undergraduate qualifications

  • BSc (Hons) Marine Biology (1989 - 1992), University College of Swansea

Postgraduate qualifications

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (2006), University of Derby

Research qualifications

  • PhD (January 1996 - October 1999), Anglia Polytechnic University, in collaboration with Cambridge University

Recent publications

  • Archer S., Montague J., Bali A. and Sowter HM. (2015) Yoga and quality of life for patients receiving treatment for gynaecological cancer: A randomised controlled trial.  Manuscript under review.
  • Archer S., Montague J., Bali A. and Sowter HM. (2015) "I'm 100% for it! I'm a convert!": Women's experiences of a yoga programme after treatment for gynaecological cancer; an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Comp. Ther. Med. 23:55-62
  • Lawrenson K., Mhawech-Fauceglia P., Worthington J., Spindler T., O’Brien D., Lee J., Darcy KM., Pejovic T., Sowter H., Timms JF, Gayther SA. (2014) Identification of Novel Candidate Biomarkers of Early-Stage Epithelial Ovarian Cancer by Quantitative Proteomic Analysis of the Secretome of Three-Dimensional Genetic Models of Ovarian Carcinogenesis. Int. J. Cancer epub  doi: 10.1002/ijc.29197
  • Innamaa A.,  Jackson, L., Asher, V.,  Bali, A., Sowter, H. and Khan R. (2013) The Expression of the K2P Channels TREK 1 and TREK 2 in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer and Effect of TREK 1 and 2 modulating agents on Cell Proliferation of SKOV 3 and OVCAR 3 Cells Clinical and Translational Oncology (published on-line March 2013)
  • Innamaa A., Jackson L., Asher V.,  Bali A., Sowter H. and Khan R. (2013) The Expression of the oncogenic K2P Channel KCNK9 (TASK3) in ovarian carcinoma. Anticancer Res. 33:1401-1408.
  • Asher V, Warren A, Shaw R, Sowter H, Bali A, Khan R. (2011) The role of Eag and HERG channels in cell proliferation and apoptotic cell death inSK-OV-3 ovarian cancer cell line. Cancer Cell Int. 10;11:6.
  • Asher, V.,  Khan, R., Warren, A., Shaw, R.,  van Schalkwyk, G., Bali, A. and Sowter, H.M. (2010) The Eag potassium channel as a new prognostic marker in ovarian cancer. Diagnostic Pathology 5:78
  • Asher V, Sowter H, Shaw R, Bali A, Khan R. (2010) Eag and HERG potassium channels as novel therapeutic targets in cancer. World J Surg Oncol. 29;8:113.
  • Dafou D., Grun, B., Sinclair, J., Lawrenson, K., Benjamin E.C., Hogdall E., Kruger, Sowter H.M., Al-Attar A., Edmondson R., Darby S., Ramus,
  • S.J., Jacobs I.J. and Gayther S.A. (2010)Microcell-mediated chromosome transfer identifies EPB41L3 as a functional suppressor of epithelial ovarian cancers. Neoplasia.12:579-89.
  • Sowter, H.M. and Ashworth, A. (2005) BRCA1 and BRCA2 as Ovarian Cancer Susceptibility Genes. Carcinogenesis 26:16511656.
  • Raval, R.R., Lau, K.W., Tran, M.G.B., Sowter, H.M., Mandriota, S.J., Li, J.-L., Pugh, C.W., Maxwell, P.H., Harris, A.L. and Ratcliffe, P.J. (2005) Contrasting properties of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) and HIF-2 in von Hippel-Lindau-associated renal cell carcinoma. Mol. Cell. Biol. 25:5675-5686.
  • Giatromanolaki, A., Koukourakis, M.I., Sowter, H.M., Sivridis, E., Gibson, S., Gatter, K. C. and Harris A.L. (2004) BNIP3 expression is linked with hypoxia-regulated protein expression and with poor prognosis in non-small cell lung cancer. Clin. Cancer Res. 10:5566-5571.
  • Ameri, K., Lewis, C.E., Sowter, H.M., Raida, M., Hai, T. and Harris, A.L. (2004). Anoxic induction of ATF-4 via HIF-1-independent pathways in human cancer cells. Blood 103:1876-1882.
  • Sowter, H. M., Moore, J., Ratcliffe, P.J. and Harris, A.L. (2003). Predominant role of Hif-1a versus Hif-2 a in the regulation of the transcriptional response to hypoxia. Cancer Res. 63:6130-6134.
  • Sowter, H.M., Ferguson, M., Pym, C., Watson, P., Han, C., Greenberg, A., Ratcliffe, P. and Harris, A.L. (2003). Expression of the cell death genes BNip3 and Nix in ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast: Implications in disease progression. J. Pathol. 201:573-580.
  • Mandriota, S.J., Turner, K.J., Davies, D.R., Murray, P.G., Morgan, N.V., Sowter, H.M., Wykoff, C.C., Maher, E.R., Harris, A.L., Ratcliffe, P.J. and Maxwell, P.H. (2002). HIF activation identifies early lesions in VHL kidneys: Evidence for site-specific tumor suppressor function in the nephron. Cancer Cell 1:459-468.
  • Sowter, H.M. and Harris, A.L. Hypoxic signaling pathways as targets for anticancer therapy. In: Targets for cancer chemotherapy: Transcription factors and other nuclear proteins Humana Press, New Jersey, 2002. N. B. La Thangue and L. B. Bandara
  • Sowter, H.M., Ratcliffe, P.J., Watson, P., Greenberg, A.H. and Harris, A.L. (2001). HIF-1-dependent regulation of hypoxic induction of the cell death factors BNIP3 and NIX in human tumours. Cancer Res. 61: 6669-6673.
  • Gayther, S.A., Batley, S.J., Linger, L., Bannister, A., Thorpe, K., Chin, S.-F., Daigo, Y., Russell, P., Wilson, A., Sowter, H.M., Delhanty, J.D.A., Ponder, B.A.J., Kousarides, T. and Caldas, C. (2000). Mutations truncating the RP300 acetylase in human cancers. Nat. Genetics 24: 300-303.

Recent conferences

  • Anni Innamaa, Leigh Jackson, Viren Asher, Anish Bali, Heidi Sowter and Raheela Khan. The Role of the K2P Channel TASK 3 (KCNK9) in Cell Proliferation and Apoptotic Cell Death in the SKOV-3 Ovarian Cancer Cell Line. BSGC Conference, Birmingham, November 2011
  • Archer, S., Hill, C., Sowter, H. & Bali, A. Evaluating an enhanced recovery programme for gynae-oncology patients: the patient experience. NCRI, Liverpool, November 2011
  • Anni Innamaa, Viren Asher,  Leigh Jackson, Anish Bali, Heidi Sowter and Raheela Khan Expression of the K2P channels TREK1 (KCNK2) and  TREK2 (KCNK10) in epithelial ovarian cancer and normal ovarian surface epithelium. European Society for Gynaecological Oncology, September 2011 
  • Stephanie Archer, Anish Bali and Heidi Sowter. A randomised controlled trial to investigate whether practicing Yoga improves gynaecological cancer patients' quality of life. Psychology, Health & Medicine 8th Annual Conference. NUI, Galway, 4th April 2011 
  • Anni Innamaa, Viren Asher, Anish Bali, Heidi Sowter and Raheela Khan. Expression of the K2P Channels TREK1 (KCNK2) and TREK2 (KCNK10) in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer. International Gynaecological Cancer Symposium, Milan October 2010.
  • Abdulhafid Wafa, Ian Scott, Ian Spendlove and Heidi Sowter. Histological expression and function of complement molecules in ovarian cancer. NCRI conference, Birmingham, 2009.
  • Susan Ramus, Martin Kbel, Dimitra Dafou, Elizabeth Benjamin, Eva Wozniak1, Estrid Hogdall, Susanne Kruger Kjaer, Lise Christensen, Heidi Sowter, Ahmad Al-Attar, Richard Edmondson, Steven Darby, Mamatha Chivukula, Kimberly Kalli, Elaine Elliott, Steve Kalloger, Kristy Driver, Martin Widschwendter, Aleksandra Gentry-Maharaj, Usha Menon The Ovarian Cancer Tissue MicroArray Consortium. NCRI conference, Birmingham, 2009.
  • Viren Asher, Raheela Khan, Heidi Sowter, Robert Shaw and Anish Bali. Expression of Eag1 and HERG potassium channels in ovarian cancer. NCRI conference, Birmingham, 2009.
  • Viren Asher, Raheela Khan, Heidi Sowter, R. Shaw and Anish Bali Expression of Eag1 and HERG Potassium channels in ovarian cancer (presented by Viren Asher). Winner of the best poster prize at Birmingham Midlands Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, University of Nottingham Medical School, May 2009.
  • Heidi Sowter, Matthew Smalley, Afshan McCarthey, Howard Kendrick, Jos Jonkers and Alan Ashworth Development of an animal model to mimic deletion of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in the ovarian surface epithelium. (Speaker and chair)
    Presented at Molecules involved in Carcinogenesis (an international networking initiative for young scientists) for the British Council in the Czech Republic, March 2005.

Additional interests and activities

  • I have supervised two senior registrars through their Doctor of Medicine degrees, and three PhD students.
  • I have been an Associate Editor for Oncology News magazine (February 2006-2013).

Experience in industry

Research posts

  • Oxford University: Hypoxia and breast cancer 2000-2003
  • Breakthrough Breast Cancer: BRCA1 and BRCA2 loss in ovarian cancer 2003-2006

International experience

I collaborate with Prof Simon Gayther and Dr Kate Lawrenson from the Women's Centre Cancer Programme at the Cedar-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles.

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