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Dr Havovi Chichger

Associate Professor in Biomedical Science

Medical Technology Research Centre; Vision and Eye Research Institute

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Life Sciences
Areas of Expertise:
Cell and Molecular Biology , Health and wellbeing , Vision and eye research
Research Supervision:

Havovi’s primary research focuses on cellular mechanisms which regulate the endothelium in human disease. Alongside her role as Associate Professor, Havovi is Deputy Head of School (Research, Innovation & Income Generation).

[email protected]

View Havovi's profile on ResearchGate

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In 2011, Havovi earned her doctorate in physiology from University College London, which focused on studying the role of renal and small intestinal glucose transport across the epithelium in metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

As a Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University, Havovi's research developed into vascular dysfunction in settings of disease including respiratory disease. During her Post-Doctorate, she was awarded significant funding from the American Heart Association, published several peer-reviewed articles and participated in numerous clinical and basic research conference presentations (including invited and peer-reviewed oral presentations) on renal glucose transport, endocytosis, vascular function and respiratory disease.

Currently, Havovi is continuing her research on mechanisms which regulate endothelial and epithelial barrier function, with an emphasis on novel regulators of both barriers, such as the taste receptor. She leads the Biomedical Research Group.

Research interests
  • Physiological roles of bitter and sweet taste receptors
  • Renal and small intestinal glucose transport across the epithelium (diabetes, metabolic syndrome)
  • Mechanisms regulated by artificial sweeteners and sweet taste receptors (diabetes, pulmonary diseases)
  • Endosomal trafficking in the vasculature (pulmonary diseases)
  • Protein phosphatase (PTP and SHP2) signalling (pulmonary diseases)
  • Protein kinases (PKC and MAPK) signalling (diabetes, pulmonary diseases)
  • Novel mechanisms regulating microvascular complications (diabetes, pulmonary diseases)
  • Molecular mechanisms which link the gut microbiota and gastric permeability
Areas of research supervision

Selected current students:

First supervisor for PhD student – Lewis Spurrier-Best who is studying the endothelium in settings of lung injury (Sept 2023 to present)

Second supervisor for PhD student – Emily Capes who is performing an investigation into the mechanisms of degranulation-dependent zinc release from platelets (April 2023 to present)

Second supervisor for PhD student – Mary Bishop-Strutt who is studying the use of saccharide-linked compounds for glioblastoma multiforme treatment via intranasal delivery (Sept 2023 to present)

Second supervisor for PhD student – Maggie Gentry who is studying the role of NC3Rs (Oct 2019 to present, part-time)

Second supervisor for PhD student – Ian Styles who is studying impact of climate and environmental change on prevalence of respiratory disease in ancient Nubia (Jan 2022 to present, part-time)

Selected recently-completed students:

Third supervisor for PhD student Chisolm Meludu who is studying the role of DNA quadruplexes (Completed Feb 2023)

Second supervisor for PhD student at University College London – Oluwatobi Olusanya who studied the role of transporters in the gut epithelium (Completed, 2022)

First supervisor for PhD student – Aparna Shil who studied the effect of intestinal sweet taste receptors on the gut microbiota and gastric permeability (Completed, 2020)

First supervisor for PhD student – Emmanuella Enuwosa who studied the effect of taste receptors on the retinal and glomerular microvasculature (Completed, 2020)


MSc Applied Bioscience
Course Leader
Module Leader for Research Methods and Preparation

BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science
Associate Professor
Module Leader for Molecular Cell Biology

  • PGCert in Higher Education and Learning, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Teaching excellence certificate, Sheridan Centre, Brown University
  • PhD Physiology, University College London
  • BSc Biochemistry, King’s College London
Memberships, editorial boards

Selected examples of current work:

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Selected examples of recent funding:

  • Inventor for UK and USA patent – EP2019/056677
  • Commercial funding – food supplementation projects (> £250k)
  • British Heart Foundation – PhD studentship funding (>£100k)
  • Cambridge Philosophical Society – PhD studentship funding (>£100k)
  • Wellcome Trust Biomedical scholarships (>£10k)
  • Physiological Society Summer scholarships (>£5k)
  • Diabetes UK Early Career Research grant (>£15k)
  • American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship (>£100k)
Selected recent publications

Publications in the last five years:

Shil, A., Faria L.M.L., Walker, C.A., Chichger, H. 2024. The artificial sweetener neotame negatively regulates the intestinal epithelium directly through T1R3-signaling and indirectly through pathogenic changes to model gut bacteria. Frontiers in Nutrition. 11, in press.

Blackham-Hayward, E., Kertesz, Z., Chichger, H. 2024. Electronic vape fluid activates the pulmonary endothelium and disrupts vascular integrity in vitro through an ARF6-dependent pathway. Microvascular Research. 153, 104653.

Kaya, A., Arafat, B., Chichger, H., Tolaymat, I., Pierscionek, B., Khoder, M., Najlah, M. 2023. Preparation and Characterisation of Zinc Diethyldithiocarbamate-Cyclodextrin Inclusion Complexes for Potential Lung Cancer Treatment. Pharmaceutics. 16, 65

Chapman, S., Roberts, J., Roberts, A.J., Ogden, H., Izard, R., Smith, L., Chichger, H., Struszczak, L., Rawcliffe, A.J. 2023. Pre-sleep protein supplementation does not improve performance, body composition, and recovery in British Army recruits (part 1). Frontiers in Nutrition. 10, 1262044.

Chapman, S., Roberts, J., Roberts, A.J., Ogden, H., Izard, R., Smith, L., Chichger, H., Struszczak, L., Rawcliffe, A.J. 2023. Pre-sleep protein supplementation does not improve recovery from load carriage in British Army recruits (part 2). Frontiers in Nutrition. 10, 1264042.

Shil, A., Zhang, J., Chichger, H. 2023. Investigating the use and awareness of artificial sweeteners among diabetic patients in Bangladesh. PLoS One. 18, e0295272.

Roberts, J.D., Lillis, J.B., Pinto, J.M., Chichger, H., López-Samanes, Á., Coso, J.D., Zacca, R., Willmott, A.G.B. 2023. The Effect of a Hydroxytyrosol-Rich, Olive-Derived Phytocomplex on Aerobic Exercise and Acute Recovery. Nutrients. 15, 421.

Roberts, J.D., Lillis, J., Pinto, J.M., Willmott, A.G.B., Gautam, L., Davies, C., López-Samanes, Á., Del Coso, J., Chichger, H. 2022. The Impact of a Natural Olive-Derived Phytocomplex (OliPhenolia®) on Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress in Healthy Adults. Nutrients. 14, 5156.

Kertesz, Z., Harrington, E.O., Braza, J., Guarino, B.D., Chichger, H. 2022. Agonists for bitter taste receptors T2R10 and T2R38 attenuate LPS-induced permeability of the pulmonary endothelium in vitro. Frontiers in Physiology. 13, 794370.

Enuwosa, E., Gautam, L., King, L., Chichger, H. 2021. Saccharin and sucralose protect the glomerular microvasculature in vitro against VEGF-induced permeability. Nutrients. 13(8), 2746.

Shil, A., Chichger, H. 2021. Artificial sweeteners negatively regulate pathogenic characteristics of two model gut bacteria, E. coli and E. faecalis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(10), 5228.

Asowata, E.O., Olusanya, O., Abaakil, K., Chichger, H., Srai, S.K.S., Unwin, R.J., Marks, J. 2021. Diet-induced iron deficiency in rats impacts small intestinal calcium and phosphate absorption. Acta Physiology, 22, e13650.

Shil, A., Davies, C., Gautam, L., Roberts, J., Chichger, H. 2021. Investigating the opposing effect of two different green tea supplements on oxidative stress, mitochondrial function and cell viability in HepG2 cells. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 17, p. 1.

Roberts, J.D., Willmott, A.G.B., Beasley, L., Boal, M., Davies, R., Martin, L., Chichger, H., Gautam, L., Del Coso, J. 2021. The impact of decaffeinated green tea extract on fat oxidation, body composition and cardio-metabolic health in overweight, recreationally active individuals. Nutrients, 13(3), p.764.

Harrington, E. O., Braza, J., Shil, A., Chichger, H., 2020. Extracellular vesicles released from p18 overexpressing pulmonary endothelial cells are barrier protective – potential implications for acute respiratory distress syndrome. Pulmonary Circulation, 10(3).

Shil, A., Olusanya, O., Ghufoor, Z., Forson, B., Marks, J., Chichger, H. 2020. Artificial sweeteners disrupt tight junctions and barrier function in the intestinal epithelium through activation of the sweet taste receptor, T1R3. Nutrients, 12(6), p. 1862.

Pardhan, S., Vaughan, M., Zhang, J., Smith, L., Chichger, H., 2020. Type and frequency of ocular and other known symptoms experienced by people who self diagnosed as suffering from COVID-19 in the UK. medRxiv, June 22nd, 2020.

Keegan, G., Pardhan, S., Chichger, H., 2020. Lutein and zeaxanthin attenuates VEGF-induced neovascularisation in human retinal microvascular endothelial cells through a Nox4-dependent pathway. Experimental Eye Research, 197, 108104.

Ventetuolo, C. E., Aliotta, J. M., Braza, J., Chichger, H., Dooner, M., McGuirl, D., Mullin, C. J., Newton, J., Pereira, M., Princiotto, A., Quesenberry, P. J., Walsh, T., Whittenhall, M., Klinger, J. R., Harrington, E. O., 2020. Culture of pulmonary artery endothelial cells from pulmonary artery catheter balloon tips: considerations for use in pulmonary vascular disease. European Respiratory Journal, 55(3), 1901313.

Recent presentations and conferences

Selected examples of abstracts:

Targeting Arf6 in the treatment of barrier disruption for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Physiology 2023.

Activation of the orphan GPCR, T1R3, promotes the release of barrier-protective extracellular vesicles – a novel role for endothelial sweet taste sensing. International Vascular Biology Meeting. 2022.

Using our immerging understanding of taste sensing to target vascular disease. Physiology 2021.

The impact of COVID-19 on the pulmonary vasculature – ARDS-associated disruption of the endothelial barrier. COVID-19: Lessons learned from the frontline, online. 2020.

Understanding new ways to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome. NIH Research in Progress conference, online. 2020.

How artificial sweeteners reduce diabetes-associated blood vessel injury in the eye. Harley Street Surgical Centre Continued Education and Training UK. 2020.

Media experience

Selected examples from the last three years:

April 2024: several media outlets, including Guardian and Forbes online, covered research from the Frontiers in Nutrition publication based on the effect of neotame on the intestine and microbiota relationship in the gut

25 April 2024: interview on BBC World Service on the Frontiers in Nutrition publication studying the sweetener neotame

26 February 2023: interview on Cambridge 105 (Suzie Thorpe) on the effect of sweeteners in gut health

March 2023: article in USA Today on sugar substitutes and their potential health impacts

June 2021: several media outlets, including Independent and Daily Mail newspapers, covered research from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences publication based on the effect of artificial sweeteners on the microbiota-epithelium relationship in the gut

25 June 2021: interview on BBC Scotland (Good Morning Show) and Times Radio on the International Journal of Molecular Sciences publication