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
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Dr Jennifer Heaney is a Research Fellow within the Clinical Immunology Service in the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy. Jennifer’s main theme of research is immunoassay development for clinical applications, focusing on multiple myeloma, measurement of immunocompetence, and non-invasive testing. She collaborates with industry partners to develop and validate novel immunoassays.  She has received funding from Cancer Research UK, the MRC and NIHR. 

ResearchGate Profile


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


Jennifer completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham, UK. Following a year working in industry in Oxford, Jennifer returned to Birmingham appointed as a Research Fellow developing and validating new tests for diagnosing and monitoring multiple myeloma. This included working with Abingdon Health on Seralite® - a rapid quantitative test for myeloma. Jennifer supported test development and validation and a publication series to support adoption in clinical practice. The test is now sold in 72 countries worldwide.

Jennifer then went on to develop highly sensitive ELISAs to enable immunoglobulin free light chains to be measured in non-invasive specimens.  She has continued to work on new testing platforms and methods for applications in myeloma and for markers of immunocompetence to be used in a range of populations. Jennifer has received several MRC Confidence in Concept grants to support her assay development work.  

Jennifer has investigated immunosuppression and infections in UK myeloma clinical trials, supported by NIHR. She has also undertaken research in healthy and clinical populations to increase understanding on the relationship between oral and systemic immune systems.  Alongside assay development, immunity in myeloma and oral immunity continue to form her main research interests.


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

Postgraduate supervision

Jennifer is currently supervising two PhD students. 

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

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


Jennifer’s research has three core areas of focus, which often intersect: I) immunoassay design, development, and validation; II) myeloma biology; and III) basic immunology research with an emphasis on oral immunity.

Jennifer is passionate about developing testing solutions that are low-cost and straightforward to remove obstacles to achieving patient benefits and to improve access to testing. She collaborates with industry partners to develop and manufacture tests.

She is currently working on a rapid test to help tackle diagnostic delay in myeloma and improve access to myeloma testing in low-middle income countries. This work is being supported by CRUK.

Her other ongoing immunoassay projects include: validating a new sensitive laboratory method for detecting and monitoring low-level myeloma disease, rapid testing to assess protection against disease to inform vaccination, and high sensitivity non-invasive testing for applications in multiple sclerosis.

Alongside immunoassay development, Jennifer continues research into myeloma biology, namely immunosuppression in myeloma, and oral immunity. She is particularly interested in differences between oral and systemic immunity and is investigating this theme in both health and disease.

Other activities

• 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

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