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Heidi Sowter

Principal Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)


Dr Sowter is a Principal lecturer, International Business lead and Admissions Tutor for the Biosciences department, and co-ordinates and line manages hourly paid lecturers in this area. Additional responsibilities include Athena Swan lead for Biosciences, Erasmus scheme co-ordinator and membership of the Research Informed Curriculum and Personal Tutorial working groups. She is also the course leader for MSc. Biomedical Science, the module lead for Pathopharmacology and teaches on a range of modules within Bioscience. Her research is on gynaecological cancer, and she currently has one PhD student studying calcium channel dysregulation in ovarian cancer patients.

Career overview

Before working in higher education, Dr Sowter was a cancer research scientist, and began her career as a laboratory technician in a biotechnology company that produced monoclonal antibodies. She obtained a research assistant position at the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department of Cambridge University, where she completed a PhD entitled ‘Angiogenic Growth Factors in Ovarian Cancer.’  She then held post-doctoral positions at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (John Ratcliffe hospital, Oxford) and at Breakthrough Breast Cancer (The Institute of Cancer Research, London) before accepting a position as a lecturer at the University of Derby in 2006. By 2016 she had become a Reader in Oncology, and designed several courses and modules in the area of Biomedical Health. Some of these courses were delivered to NHS staff as part of their training in oncology.

Research areas

Dr Sowter’s PhD aimed to establish whether interfering with angiogenesis in ovarian cancer could lead to new treatment modalities. She then completed two post-doctoral scientist positions, the first with Prof. Adrian Harris at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine where she investigated the upregulation of angiogenic factors as a result of hypoxia (low tissue oxygen), the second with Prof. Alan Ashworth at Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Here, she generated a line of transgenic mice with mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that only manifested in the layer of epithelial cells that surround the ovary. Whilst at the University of Derby she was the chief investigator of two clinical trials: ‘Yoga for gynaecological cancer patients’ and ‘Inspiratory muscle training for advanced cancer patients suffering with dyspnoea.’ She also published work on prognostic markers of ovarian cancer with a Molecular Genetics group at the University of Southern California. During her career she has supervised three MRes and five PhD students to completion, and her current PhD student is investigating dysregulation of calcium channels in ovarian cancer, co-supervised by Prof Raheela Khan from Nottingham University.

External activity

Dr Sowter acts as an External Examiner for the Human Biology degree programme at Canterbury Christchurch University. She is the Oncology Editor for Scientifica Journal (2014-present), a grant peer reviewer for The British Council (2014-present) and the NIHR (2008-2012), and has acted as an external PhD examiner for 5 students.


Note: Publications marked * have been rated as 3-4* by 2 external reviewers for the 2021 REF Allied Health UoA

Garcia J., Hazelett D.J., Mhawech-Fauceglia P, Sowter H, Roman L, Lawrenson K and Gayther SA Evaluating FOXM1 as a Therapeutic Target for Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (2018) Manuscript in preparation.

*Adler E., Corona R.I. Lee J.M., Rodriguez-Malave N., Mhawech-Fauceglia P., Sowter H., Hazelett D.J., Lawrenson K. and Gayther S.A. The PAX8 Cistrome in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (2017) Oncotarget 65:108316-108332

*Lawrenson K., Manek R., Pakzamir E., Gayther S., Mhawech-Fauceglia P., Sowter H., and Pejovic T. (2016) Targeting Src in Endometriosis-Associated Ovarian Cancer. Oncogenesis 5:e251

Archer S., Montague J., Bali A. and Sowter H.M. (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 in SK-OV-3 ovarian cancer cell line. Cancer Cell Int. 10;11:6.

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.

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.

Sowter, H.M. and Ashworth, A. (2005) BRCA1 and BRCA2 as Ovarian Cancer
Susceptibility Genes. Carcinogenesis 26:1651-1656.

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 versus Hif-2 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.

Chong, T-W., Horwitz, L., Moore, J.W., Sowter, H.M. and Harris, A.L. (2002). A mycobacterial iron chelator desfrri-exochelin induces hypoxia-inducible factors 1 and 2, NIP3 and VEGF expression in cancer cell lines. Cancer Res. 62:6924-6927.

Goonewardene, T.L., Sowter, H.M. and Harris, A.L. (2002). Hypoxia-induced pathways in breast cancer. Microsc. Res. Tech. 59:41-48.

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.

Sowter, H.M., Corps, A.N. and Smith, S.K. (1999). Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF) in ovarian epithelial tumour fluids stimulates the migration of ovarian carcinoma cells. Int. J. Cancer 83: 476-480.

Corps, A.N., Sowter, H.M. and Smith, S.K. (1997). Hepatocyte Growth Factor stimulates motility, chemotaxis and mitogenesis in ovarian carcinoma cells expressing high levels of c Met. Int. J. Cancer 73: 151-155.

Sowter, H.M., Corps, A.N., Evans, A.L., Clark, D.E., Charnock-Jones, D.S. and Smith, S.K. (1997). Expression and Localization of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Family in Ovarian Epithelial Tumors. Lab. Invest. 77: 607-613.

Clark D.E, Smith, S.K., Sowter, H.M. and Charnock-Jones, D.S. (1996). Hepatocyte Growth Factor/Scatter Factor and its receptor c-met: Localisation and expression in the human placenta throughout pregnancy. J. Endocrinol. 151: 459-467.

See all of Heidi Sowter's publications...

Course(s) I teach on

  • Student putting specimen trays onto shelves
    Postgraduate taught / Practitioner / Professional | Distance learning | 2019

  • Students in science lab
    Postgraduate taught / Professional | Full-time / Part-time / Sandwich | 2019