Dr Jennifer Heaney PhD

Jennifer Heaney

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
Senior Research Fellow

Contact details

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

Dr Jennifer Heaney is a Senior Research Fellow within the Clinical Immunology Service in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy. Jennifer’s main theme of research is immunoassay development, focusing on applications in blood cancer and measuring immunity against disease. She develops solutions that are simple and affordable to improve access to testing and streamline testing pathways to achieve patient benefits. To develop and validate novel immunodiagnostic tests, Jennifer collaborates closely with industry, charity and clinical partners. She has received funding from Cancer Research UK, Blood Cancer UK, the MRC and NIHR.


  • PhD. University of Birmingham, 2012
  • MSc. Bangor University, 2008
  • BSc. Bangor University, 2007


Jennifer completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham, UK in 2012. She then worked in the medical communications industry for a year as a Medical Writer. Jennifer returned to Birmingham to work closely with a medical diagnostics partner developing new tests for diagnosing and monitoring multiple myeloma. This included supporting the development and validation of a rapid test for serum free light chains (Seralite®), which was sold globally for use in plasma cell disorders.

Jennifer has since established a broad programme of assay development to address unmet clinical needs. Testing applications include blood cancer, infection and immunity and autoimmune conditions. She has received funding from CRUK, Blood Cancer UK and the MRC to support in vitro diagnostic R&D.

Alongside immunoassay development, Jennifer has conducted a range of investigations in UK multiple myeloma clinical trials, in core themes of immunosuppression, infections, vaccination and interpretation of laboratory tests. She has also undertaken research in healthy and clinical populations to increase understanding of the relationship between oral and systemic immune systems.


  • Jennifer is College Lead for Postgraduate Mentorship
  • MBChB tutor Immunity, Infection and Haematology
  • MBChB tutor Clinical Communication
  • BMedSci: Clinical Sciences. Research project supervisor for intercalating MBChB students

Postgraduate supervision

Jennifer is currently supervising five PhD students. 

Jennifer has supervised several students from MSc Immunology and Immunotherapy, MRes Cancer Sciences and MSc by Research courses (both full and part-time) and MSc Integrated Biological Sciences.

If you are interested in studying in Jennifer’s areas of interest, she welcomes applications from potential doctoral and MSc by Research students. Please contact her directly. 


Jennifer focuses on translational research which seeks to innovate immunoassays for both patient and healthcare system benefits. Her main interest is developing low-cost and straightforward solutions to improve equity of testing and improve and accelerate diagnostic pathways. She works across laboratory and point of care testing platforms.

Current in vitro diagnostic projects include:

  • High sensitivity blood-based diagnosis and monitoring for non-measurable myeloma
  • Immunity screening for vaccine preventable diseases to support vaccination strategies in global health
  • Improving access to myeloma testing in low-middle income countries
  • Screening and monitoring autoimmune diseases
  • Enabling at home patient monitoring for plasma cell disorders

Alongside immunoassay R&D, measuring humoral immunity and antibody responses in myeloma and oral immunity continue to form her main research interests. She is particularly interested in relationships between oral and systemic antibodies and investigates this theme in both health and disease.

Google Scholar Profile

ResearchGate Profile

Other activities

  • Grant panels (MRC IAA Management Group and College Research Development Fund)
  • Member of STEM ethics committee
  • Reviewer for various international journals in clinical and laboratory science disciplines
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of British Society for Immunology
  • Member of British Society for Haematology


Recent publications


Emery, A, Moore, S, Crowe, J, Murray, J, Peacock, O, Thompson, D, Betts, F, Rapps, S, Ross, L, Rothschild-Rodriguez, D, Arana Echarri, A, Davies, R, Lewis, R, Augustine, DX, Whiteway, A, Afzal, Z, Heaney, JLJ, Drayson, MT, Turner, JE & Campbell, JP 2024, 'The effects of short-term, progressive exercise training on disease activity in smouldering multiple myeloma and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance: a single-arm pilot study', BMC Cancer, vol. 24, no. 1, 174. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-024-11817-6

PITCH Consortium, Jenner, MW, Owen, RG, Pratt, D, Cook, G, Richter, A, Drayson, M & Kaiser, MF 2023, 'Immune responses to COVID-19 booster vaccinations in intensively anti-CD38 antibody treated patients with ultra-high-risk multiple myeloma: results from the Myeloma UK (MUK) nine OPTIMUM trial', British Journal of Haematology, vol. 201, no. 5, pp. 845-850. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjh.18714

Faustini, SE, Cook, A, Hill, H, Al-Taei, S, Heaney, J, Efstathiou, E, Tanner, C, Townsend, N, Ahmed, Z, Dinally, M, Hoque, M, Goodall, M, Stamataki, Z, Plant, T, Chapple, I, Cunningham, AF, Drayson, MT, Shields, AM & Richter, AG 2023, 'Saliva antiviral antibody levels are detectable but correlate poorly with serum antibody levels following SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or vaccination', Journal of Infection, vol. 87, no. 4, pp. 328-335. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2023.07.018

Heaney, J, Faustini, S, Evans, L, Rapson, A, Collman, E, Emery, A, Campbell, JP, Moore, S, Goodall, M, Afzal, Z, Chapple, I, Pratt, G & Drayson, M 2022, 'Investigating the utility of saliva immunoglobulins for the detection of myeloma and using myeloma proteins to clarify partition between oral and systemic immunity', European journal of haematology, vol. 108, no. 6, pp. 493-502. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejh.13758

Faustini, S, Jossi, S, Perez-Toledo, M, Shields, A, Allen, JD, Watanabe, Y, Newby, ML, Cook, A, Willcox, C, Salim, M, Goodall, M, Heaney, J, Marcial Juarez, E, Morley, G, Torlinska, B, Wraith, D, Veenith, T, Harding, S, Jolles, S, Mark, PJ, Plant, T, Huissoon, A, O’Shea, MK, Willcox, B, Drayson, M, Crispin, M, Cunningham, A & Richter, A 2021, 'Development of a high-sensitivity ELISA detecting IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein in serum and saliva', Immunology, vol. 164, no. 1, pp. 135-147. https://doi.org/10.1111/imm.13349

Chicca, I, Heaney, J, Iqbal, G, Dunn, J, Bowcock, S, Pratt, G, Yong, K, Planche, T, Richter, A & Drayson, M 2020, 'Anti-bacterial Antibodies in Multiple Myeloma Patients at Disease Presentation, in Response to Therapy and in Remission: Implications for Patient Management', Blood Cancer Journal, vol. 10, no. 11, 114. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41408-020-00370-7

Faustini, SE, Jossi, SE, Perez-Toledo, M, Shields, A, Allen, JD, Watanabe, Y, Newby, ML, Cook, A, Willcox, CR, Salim, M, Goodall, M, Heaney, JL, Marcial-Juarez, E, Morley, GL, Torlinska, B, Wraith, DC, Veenith, T, Harding, S, Jolles, S, Mark, PJ, Plant, T, Huissoon, A, O'Shea, MK, Willcox, BE, Drayson, MT, Crispin, M, Cunningham, AF & Richter, AG 2020, 'Detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein in both serum and saliva enhances detection of infection', medRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.16.20133025

Heaney, J, Ackermann, F, Paunet-Bobo, M, Mehlal, S, Jolly, E, Hachem, J, Védrenne, A & Vasse, M 2020, 'Evaluation of two serum free light chain quantitation methods, Freelite and Seralite, in the clinical laboratory with a view to switching immunoassay', Clinica Chimica Acta.

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

Irshad, L, Faustini, S, Evans, L, Drayson, M, Campbell, JP & Heaney, J 2020, 'Salivary free light chains as a new biomarker to measure psychological stress: the impact of a university exam period on salivary immunoglobulins, cortisol, DHEA and symptoms of infection', Psychoneuroendocrinology, vol. 122, 104912. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2020.104912

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, 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, 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, Richter, A, Bowcock, S, Pratt, G, Child, A, Jackson, G, Morgan, G, Truesson, I & Drayson, M 2020, 'Excluding myeloma diagnosis using revised thresholds for serum free light chain ratios and M-protein levels', Haematologica, vol. 105, no. 4, pp. e169-e171. https://doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2019.224360

View all publications in research portal