Dr Jennifer Heaney PhD

Jennifer Heaney

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
Research Fellow

Contact details

Clinical Immunology Service
Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Jennifer Heaney is a Research Fellow within the Clinical Immunology Service in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy. She has interdisciplinary collaborations with clinicians, researchers and industry. Jennifer is particularly interested in biomarker and immunoassay development for clinical applications and measuring immunocompetence.


  • PhD in Ageing and adrenal hormones, University of Birmingham, 2012
  • MSc in Applied exercise physiology, Bangor University, 2008
  • BSc in Sport Science, Bangor University, 2007


Jennifer completed her PhD in 2012 at the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Birmingham, UK. Her thesis investigated physiological, psychosocial and behavioural factors related to ageing of the endocrine and immune system. Following a year working in industry in Oxford, Jennifer returned to Birmingham appointed as a Research Fellow on an MRC Confidence in Concept project, developing and validating new tests for diagnosing and monitoring multiple myeloma.

She is currently a Research Fellow within the Clinical Immunology Service involved in a broad range of health-related and clinical research. This includes investigations of saliva biomarkers to assess immunity, vaccination and inflammation; evaluations of immune parameters in relation to exercise and ageing; and exploring novel applications of biomarkers in health and disease. Jennifer’s clinical focused research is mainly in the field of multiple myeloma and examines relationships between the immune system and disease activity and patient responses to treatment and survival.

Immunoassay development is one of her main interests. This includes novel assays for use in multiple myeloma, platforms to measure immune status using non-invasive specimens and technologies that enable testing to take place outside a laboratory setting. Complimenting these activities, Jennifer works closely with a UK-based diagnostics group (Abingdon Health Ltd) contributing to evaluation and validation of new tests to help guide their integration into clinical practice. Jennifer has received principle / co-investigator funding from the MRC and NIHR to support clinical and immunodiagnostics projects.


Research project supervision

  • BMedSci, Clinical Sciences
  • MSc, Immunology and Immunotherapy

Postgraduate supervision

  • MRes/MSc student research projects
  • Jennifer welcomes applications from potential doctoral researchers in her areas of interest


Jennifer is currently involved in a number of research projects and interdisciplinary themes of research

Main research interests and activity include:

  • Salivary biomarkers
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Immuno-assay development
  • Assay platforms for use low-middle income countries
  • Exercise Immunology

Other activities

Jennifer acts as a reviewer for various international journals in clinical and health science disciplines. She is a member of several professional bodies and Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 


Recent publications


Rapson, A, Collman, E, Faustini, S, Yonel, Z, Chapple, I, Drayson, M, Richter, A, Campbell, JP & Heaney, J 2020, 'Free light chains as an emerging biomarker in saliva: biological variability and comparisons with salivary IgA and steroid hormones', Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity, vol. 83, pp. 78-86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2019.09.018

Heaney, J, Campbell, J, Goodall, M, Plant, T, Shemar, M, Hand, C & Drayson, M 2019, 'Analytical validation of new ELISAs for the quantitation of polyclonal free light chains and comparison to existing assays for healthy and patient samples', Journal of Immunological Methods. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jim.2019.112713

Heaney, J, Richter, A, Bowcock, S, Pratt, G, Child, A, Jackson, G, Morgan, G, Truesson, I & Drayson, M 2019, 'Excluding myeloma diagnosis using revised thresholds for serum free light chain ratios and M-protein levels', Haematologica. https://doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2019.224360

Heaney, J, Campbell, J, Iqbal, G, Cairns, DA, Richter, A, Child, JA, Gregory, WM, Jackson, G, Kaiser, MF, Owen, RG, Davies, FE, Morgan, GJ, Dunn, J & Drayson, M 2018, 'Characterisation of immunoparesis in newly diagnosed myeloma and its impact on progression-free and overall survival in both old and recent myeloma trials', Leukemia, vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 1727–1738. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41375-018-0163-4

Heaney, J, Killer, S, Svendsen, IS, Gleeson, M & Campbell, J 2018, 'Intensified training increases salivary free light chains in trained cyclists: indication that training volume increases oral inflammation', Physiology and Behavior, vol. 188, pp. 181-187. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.02.013

Campbell, J, Heaney, J, Pandya, S, Afzal, Z, Kaiser, MF, Owen, RG, Child, JA, Cairns, DA, Gregory, WM, Morgan, GJ, Jackson, GH, Bunce, C & Drayson, M 2017, 'Response comparison of multiple myeloma (MM) and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) to the same anti-MM therapy, in the same patient, at the same time: a retrospective cohort study', The Lancet Haematology, vol. 4, no. 12. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3026(17)30209-0

Campbell, J, Heaney, J, Pandya, S, Afzal, Z, Kaiser, MF, Owen, RG, Child, JA, Gregory, WM, Morgan, GJ, Jackson, GH, Bunce, C & Drayson, M 2017, 'Active multiple myeloma suppresses and typically eliminates coexisting MGUS', British Journal of Cancer, vol. 117, pp. 835-839. https://doi.org/10.1038/bjc.2017.229

Heaney, J, Campbell, J, Yadav, P, Griffin, A, Shemar, M, Pinney, J & Drayson, M 2017, 'Multiple myeloma can be accurately diagnosed in acute kidney injury patients using a rapid serum free light chain test', BMC Nephrology, vol. 18, no. 247. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12882-017-0661-z

Heaney, J, Campbell, J, Griffin, A, Birtwistle, J, Shemar, M, Antony Child, J, Gregory, WM, Cairns, DA, Morgan, GJ, Jackson, GH & Drayson, M 2017, 'Diagnosis and monitoring for light chain only and oligosecretory myeloma using serum free light chain tests', British Journal of Haematology, vol. 178, no. 2, pp. 220-230. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjh.14753

Heaney, J, Phillips, A, Carroll, D & Drayson, M 2016, 'The utility of saliva for the assessment of anti-pneumococcal antibodies: investigation of saliva as a marker of antibody status in serum', Biomarkers, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 115-122. https://doi.org/10.1080/1354750X.2016.1265009

Campbell, J, Heaney, J, Shemar, M, Baldwin, D, Griffin, A, Oldridge , E, Goodall, M, Afzal, Z, Plant , T, Cobbold, M, Jefferis, R, Jacobs, J, Hand, C & Drayson, M 2016, 'Development of a rapid and quantitative lateral flow assay for the simultaneous measurement of serum κ and λ immunoglobulin free light chains (FLC): inception of a new near-patient FLC screening tool', Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1515/cclm-2016-0194

Heaney, JLJ, Phillips, AC, Drayson, MT & Campbell, JP 2016, 'Serum free light chains are reduced in endurance trained older adults: Evidence that exercise training may reduce basal inflammation in older adults', Experimental gerontology, vol. 77, pp. 69-75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2016.02.011

Heaney, JLJ, Gleeson, M, Phillips, AC, Taylor, IM, Drayson, MT, Goodall, M, He, C-S, Svendsen, IS, Killer, SC & Campbell, J 2016, 'Salivary immunoglobulin free light chains: reference ranges and responses to exercise in young and older adults', Exercise Immunology Review, vol. 22, pp. 28-41.

Heaney, JLJ, Phillips, AC, Carroll, D & Drayson, MT 2015, 'Salivary Functional Antibody Secretion Is Reduced in Older Adults: A Potential Mechanism of Increased Susceptibility to Bacterial Infection in the Elderly', The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, vol. 70, no. 12, pp. 1578-1585. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glv085

Heaney, JLJ, Carroll, D & Phillips, AC 2014, 'Physical activity, life events stress, cortisol, and DHEA in older adults: Preliminary findings that physical activity may buffer against the negative effects of stress', Journal of aging and physical activity, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 465-473. https://doi.org/10.1123/japa.2012-0082

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