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Research interests

My research focuses on how the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, affect non-reproductive tissues in the body. My primary research investigates how these sex hormones promote calcification of atherosclerotic plaques. Atherosclerosis is the major cardiovascular disease and calcification of plaques leads to more ruptures causing heart attacks and strokes. The work performed in my laboratory is aimed at improving the understanding and safety of hormone replacement treatment use.

My research team also develops bioassays for the detection of designer androgens and estrogens that are used as doping agents in sports.

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Research projects

  • Mechanism underlying the calcification of atherosclerotic plaques in response to estrogen and testosterone treatment
  • Mechanism underlying the anabolic effect of estrogens on skeletal muscle
  • Development of cell-based bioassays for the detection of designer androgens that are used for sports doping

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Publications

Lund, R. A., Cooper, E. R., Wang, H., Ashley, Z., Cawley, A. T., & Heather, A. K. (2021). Non-targeted detection of designer androgens: Underestimated role of in vitro bioassays. Drug Testing & Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dta.3049

Cooper, E. R., Hughes, G., Kauff, A., Sutherland, E., Ashley, Z., & Heather, A. K. (2021). A cell-free bioassay for the detection of androgens. Drug Testing & Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dta.3024

Heather, A. K., Thorpe, H., Ogilvie, M., Sims, S. T., Beable, S., Milsom, S., … Hamilton, B. (2021). Biological and socio-cultural factors have the potential to influence the health and performance of elite female athletes: A cross sectional survey of 219 elite female athletes in Aotearoa New Zealand. Frontiers in Sports & Active Living, 3, 601420. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2021.601420

Gillon, A., Ho, E. N. M., Chan, G. H. M., Kauff, A., Hughes, G., Lund, R. A., Ashley, Z., … Heather, A. K. (2020). Unravelling androgens in sport: Altrenogest shows strong activation of the androgen receptor in a mammalian cell bioassay. Drug Testing & Analysis. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/dta.2941

Ashley, Z., Ebenebe, O., Worthington, L. P. I., Erickson, J., & Heather, A. K. (2020). Understanding the subtleties of development of atherosclerosis and the effect of sex hormones. New Zealand Medical Journal, 133(1518), (pp. 97-98). Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Ebenebe, O. V., Ashley, Z., Erickson, J. R., & Heather, A. K. (2020). A timing effect of 17-β estradiol on atherosclerotic lesion development in female ApoE−/− mice. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21(13), 4710. doi: 10.3390/ijms21134710

Waller, C. C., Weththasinghe, S. A., McClure, L., Cawley, A. T., Suann, C., Suann, E., Sutherland, E., Cooper, E., Heather, A., & McLeod, M. D. (2020). In vivo metabolism of the designer anabolic steroid hemapolin in the thoroughbred horse. Drug Testing & Analysis, 12, 752-762. doi: 10.1002/dta.2769

McGrath, K. C., Li, X., Twigg, S. M., & Heather, A. K. (2020). Apolipoprotein-AI mimetic peptides D-4F and L-5F decrease hepatic inflammation and increase insulin sensitivity in C57BL/6 mice. PLoS ONE, 15(1), e0226931. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226931

O'Hara, S. P., Worthington, L. P., Ashley, Z., & Heather, A. K. (2019, September). The role of CaMKII in vascular smooth muscle cell migration and atherosclerotic plaque development. Poster session presented at the Medical Sciences Congress (MedSci), Queenstown, New Zealand.

Lund, R. A., & Heather, A. K. (2019, September). An androgen sensitive bioassay optimized clinical purposes. Poster session presented at the Medical Sciences Congress (MedSci), Queenstown, New Zealand.

Knox, T., Anderson, L., & Heather, A. (2019). Transwomen in elite sport: The ethics. Proceedings of the Sports Medicine New Zealand Annual Conference. (pp. 36). Dunedin, New Zealand: Sports Medicine New Zealand. [Abstract]

Heather, A. K. (2019). Androgen excess in the elite female sports division. Proceedings of the Sports Medicine New Zealand Annual Conference. (pp. 35). Dunedin, New Zealand: Sports Medicine New Zealand. [Abstract]

Knox, T., Anderson, L., & Heather, A. (2019). Fairness and inclusion: Is it time to replace the gender binary in elite sport? Proceedings of the International Sociology of Sport Association (ISSA) World Congress of Sociology of Sport. (pp. 57). Retrieved from https://www.otago.ac.nz/issa-2019

Knox, T., Anderson, L. C., & Heather, A. (2019). Transwomen in elite sport: Scientific and ethical considerations. Journal of Medical Ethics, 45, 395-403. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2018-105208

Denny, A. P., & Heather, A. K. (2018, August). High-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Towards reversing the pathology of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. Verbal presentation at the Medical Sciences Congress (MedSci), Queenstown, New Zealand.

Lund, R. A., & Heather, A. K. (2018, August). Optimisation of an androgen bioassay for measurement of clinically relevant samples: Breast cancer as a clinical focus. Verbal presentation at the Medical Sciences Congress (MedSci), Queenstown, New Zealand.

Worthington, L. P. I., Erickson, J. R., Jones, G. T., & Heather, A. K. (2018, August). CaMKII inhibition as a novel target to control the early progression of atherosclerosis. Poster session presented at the Medical Sciences Congress (MedSci), Queenstown, New Zealand.

Lund, R. A., & Heather, A. K. (2018, August). Validation of an androgen bioassay for measurement breast cancer patient serum. Poster session presented at the Queenstown Molecular Biology (QMB) Meetings, Queenstown, New Zealand.

Knox, T., Anderson, L., & Heather, A. (2018). Fairness and inclusion: Is it time to replace the gender binary in elite sport? Proceedings of the Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law (AABHL) Conference. Retrieved from http://aabhlconference.com

Sims, S. T., & Heather, A. K. (2018). Myths and methodologies: Reducing scientific design ambiguity in studies comparing sexes and/or menstrual cycle phases. Experimental Physiology, 103(10), 1309-1317. doi: 10.1113/ep086797

Anderson, L., Heather, A. & Knox, T. Transgender women's participation in sport. Bioethics Centre, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. [Department Seminar].

Ebenebe, O. V., Heather, A., & Erickson, J. R. (2018). CaMKII in vascular signalling: “Friend or foe”? Heart, Lung & Circulation, 27(5), 560-567. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2017.12.003

Cooper, E. R., McGrath, K. C. Y., Li, X., & Heather, A. K. (2018). Androgen bioassay for the detection of nonlabeled androgenic compounds in nutritional supplements. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, 28(1), 10-18. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0018

Denny, A., & Heather, A. (2017). Is high density-lipoprotein-based therapy an option for the treatment of muscle damage in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy? Proceedings of the University of Otago Student Research Symposium: Te Wānaka Rakahau: Ākoka. (pp. 17-18). Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/graduate-research/scholarships/otago643219.html

Worthington, L. P. I., Erickson, J. R., Jones, G. T., & Heather, A. K. (2017, September). CaMKII inhibition reduces foam cell lesion development in the brachiocephalic artery of apolipoprotein E-/- knockout mice. Poster session presented at the Medical Sciences Congress (MedSci), Queenstown, New Zealand.