Dr Neena Kalia

Dr Neena Kalia

Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences
Reader in Microcirculation Research
Director of the Intravital Imaging Research Facility

Contact details

Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Neena Kalia leads the Microcirculation Research Group (MRG) and is also the Director of a world-class Intravital Imaging Facility which is based in the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences.  The MRG investigates the role the coronary microcirculation plays in the immediate aftermath of a heart attack and in the presence of co-morbidities such as age and diabetes.  A multi-disciplinary approach is being used to identify novel cellular and molecular mechanisms contributing to coronary microvascular perturbations in experimental models of ischaemia-reperfusion injury. 

In addition to her research interests, Neena is a passionate teacher of physiology.  She has an established track record of successfully teaching at a very high standard and has thrice been nominated by the Guild of Students for an Outstanding Teaching Award (2016, 2019, 2021). This includes a novel intravital imaging of the beating heart.

Coronary Microcirculation Research – Dr Neena Kalia, Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences


  • PhD in Gastric Microcirculation and Peptic Ulcer Disease (University of Sheffield - 1997)
  • BSc (Hons) in Anatomy and Cell Biology (University of Sheffield - 1993)


Dr Neena Kalia studied Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Sheffield, where she stayed to conduct her PhD with eminent Gastroenterologist Professor KD (Chandu) Bardhan (OBE).  Her PhD involved intravitally imaging the stomach to assess the effects of alcohol and Helicobacter pylori on the gastric microcirculation.  This research developed into postdoctoral studies to assess the effects of different pathogenic strains of H. pylori and their ability to mediate strain specific gastric microcirculatory disturbances.  She then obtained a Wellcome Trust funded postdoctoral position to develop novel intravital imaging of the intestinal mucosal villous microcirculation in response to Ischaemia-Reperfusion (I/R) injury.  This led to a lasting interest in I/R injury and how to prevent its devastating effects on the microcirculation of various organs.  Dr Kalia remained in Sheffield until 2004 building a reputation in I/R injury and real-time intravital microcirculatory imaging.   

Thereafter, she was approached to establish intravital microscopy within the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, under the auspices of an MRC Co-operative grant.  She was appointed as a Lecturer in 2006 and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2010 in the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences.  She is currently interested in developing novel pharmacological and cellular therapies to restore the integrity of the microcirculation  following I/R injury in various organs, including more recently the beating heart.  She has published several papers on vasculoprotective therapies for I/R injured organs and delivered many invited and conference presentations on her research.

The University recently invested significantly in developing a world-class intravital microscopy facility at the Medical School through the award of a strategic equipment grant.  Dr Kalia is the Director of this facility which is the first of its kind in the UK and leads the Imaging and Technology research theme for the Institute.  This facility is fully equipped with multiphoton and spinning Nipkow confocal intravital microscopes, as well as laser Doppler and laser speckle imaging systems.  

The intravital imaging facility will consider collaborations from external parties on any aspects of vascular research - please contact Dr Kalia for further information.


  • Module Lead for BDS Year 1 – Digestion-Renal-Endocrine Module
  • Module Deputy Lead for MBChB Year 2 – Renal Module
  • Committee Member – Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences Teaching Committee
  • Committee Member – BDS Year 1 Curriculum Review Committee
  • Exam Board Member – Biomedical Research - Cardiovascular Sciences MRes Programme
  • Exam Board Member – BDS Year 1
  • Core Lectures for BDS Year 1 and MPharm Year 1 – Digestive Physiology
  • Core Lectures for MPharm Year 2 – Renal Physiology
  • Lectures for MRes and Postgraduates – Intravital Microcirculation Imaging
  • Lectures for UG and MRes – Ischaemia-Reperfusion Injury
  • Lectures for UG and MRes – Stem Cell Homing and Vasculoprotection
  • Lectures for Postgraduate Induction Programme – Benefits of Joining a Learned Society
  • UG Research Tasters –  Research Tours
  • Small Group Teaching on Cardiovascular, Digestion, Respiratory and Renal Physiology topics for MBChB, BDS, BMedSci

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Kalia has successfully supervised more than 20 postgraduate students as first supervisor.  PhD students have attained postdoctoral positions in academia or R&D careers in pharma/industry.  She has also previously acted as the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences Postgraduate Lead.  Dr Kalia currently has openings for self-funded PhD students in the areas of:

  • Enhancing the vasculoprotective effects of stem cells (HSCs and MSCs) in IR injured organs
  • Identification of vasculoprotective stem cell sub-types
  • Role of the IL-36/IL-36R pathway in myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion injury
  • Role of the IL-36/IL-36R pathway in liver disease
  • Impact of ageing on the coronary microcirculation
  • Impact of diabetes on the coronary microcirculation
  • Identifying anti-platelets drugs that are effective in IR injured coronary microcirculation

If you are interested in studying any of these subject areas please email Dr Kalia or use the contact details above.


Dr Kalia heads the Microcirculation Research Group which aims to investigate the role of the microcirculation in the pathophysiology of Ischaemia-Reperfusion (I/R) injury.  Although she has significant experience in intravitally imaging a number of I/R injured organs including the small intestine, kidneys and liver, the current focus of her research is on investigating the role of the coronary microcirculation in myocardial infarction.  To achieve this, her research team developed a novel methodology that allows the beating heart coronary microcirculation to be visualised in real-time in vivo.  This method is being exploited to quantitate changes in thromboinflammatory events, microvascular leakage, tissue perfusion, functional capillary density and microvascular tone in response to myocardial I/R injury.  Additional imaging modalities used include laser Doppler, laser speckle and infrared thermography. 

A multi-disciplinary approach is being used to identify novel cellular and molecular mechanisms contributing to coronary microvascular perturbations. Potential therapeutic targets under consideration are newly discovered members of the interleukin (IL)-1 superfamily including the IL-36/IL-36R pathway.  Whether contemporary and novel cardiovascular drugs, such as anti-platelets, can be repurposed for treating coronary microcirculatory disturbances post-reperfusion injury is also being investigated.  Her group has also published extensively on the microvascular benefits of cellular therapies, particualrly heamatopietic and mesenchymal stem cells.  Determining whether cardiovascular co-morbidities such as ageing and diabetes increase the susceptibility of coronary microcirculation to I/R injury is a central component of the Dr Kalia’s programme of research.

The Microcirculation Research Group is largely funded by the British Heart Foundation. Follow their research activities on the Microcirculation Research Group website and on Twitter @MRG_UoB.

The intravital imaging facility will consider collaborations from external parties on any aspects of vascular research - please contact Dr Kalia for further information.

Other activities

  • Honorary Secretary – British Microcirculation and Vascular Biology Society (2013-2018)
  • Proceedings Editor – British Microcirculation and Vascular Biology Society (2007-2011)
  • Committee Member – British Microcirculation and Vascular Biology Society (2007)
  • Member – British Microcirculation and Vascular Biology Society (1994-)
  • Member – European Society for Microcirculation (1994-)
  • Member – British Society of Cardiovascular Research (2017-)
  • Member – The Physiological Society (2017-)
  • Member – International Scientific Committee for World Congress of Microcirculation (2019-2022)
  • Grant and Paper Reviewer – MRC, BBSRC, BHF, KRUK, NC3Rs, various Journals
  • Editorial Board – Microcirculation (2004-2009), (2020-)
  • Editorial Board – Frontiers in Physiology (2015-)
  • Editorial Board – World Journal of Gastroenterology (2016-2019
  • Editorial Board – World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology (2016-2019)
  • Conference and Symposia Organiser – Physiological Society (2021), BMVSB (2020, 2009), BMS/UKCAS (2017), ESM/EVBO (2013), IUPS (2013)
  • Speaker at various British Heart Foundation Public Engagement Events


View all publications in research portal