Dr Havovi Chichger

Associate Professor, Course Leader

Medical Technology Research Centre; Vision and Eye Research Institute

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Life Sciences

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Cell and Molecular Biology , Health and wellbeing , Vision and eye research

Research Supervision:Yes

Havovi’s primary research focuses on cellular mechanisms which regulate the endothelium in human disease.

View Havovi's profile on ResearchGate

Follow Havovi on Twitter


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 postdoctorate, 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.

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


First supervisor for PhD student – Klaudia Rodi who is studying the endothelium in settings of pancreatic cancer (July 2020 to present)

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

Third supervisor for PhD student - Chisolm Meludu who is studying the role of DNA quadruplexes (Jan 2020 to present)

Second supervisor for PhD student at University College London – Oluwatobi Olusanya who is studying the role of transporters in the gut epithelium (Nov 2017 to present)

Recently completed

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)

Third supervisor for PhD student – Niaz Ahmed who is studying signalling mechanisms regulating platelet function (completed 2019)

Third supervisor for PhD student – Janay Gibbons who is studying the role of lipids in insulin signalling (Completed, 2019)


MSc Applied Bioscience
Course Leader

Module Leader for Research Methods and Preparation

BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science
Associate Professor
Module Leader for Human Anatomy and Physiology 1
Module Leader for Physiology of Organ Systems


  • 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

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • Inventor for UK and USA patent – EP2019/056677
  • Commercial funding – food supplementation projects of more than £35,000
  • Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation scholarship for Ferishta Rahimi – June-August 2018 – Bitter compounds in diabetic retinopathy - £2000 (stipend)
  • Physiological Society Summer scholarship for Roxanne Newman – June-August 2018 – Naturally-derived sweeteners and the gut epithelium - £1600 (stipend)
  • Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation scholarship for Ana Couto – June-August 2017 – Bitter compounds regulate vascular permeability leading to diabetic retinopathy, through taste receptor signalling pathways - £2000 (stipend)
  • Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation scholarship for Polina Lizunkova – June-August 2016 - Artificial sweeteners reduce vascular permeability leading to diabetic retinopathy, through sweet taste receptor signalling pathways - £2000 (stipend)
  • Early Career Author award from the Physiological Society for publication - Chichger H, Cleasby M, Srai KS, Debnam ES, Unwin R.J, Marks J. Differential regulation of renal glucose transporters: Implications for diabetic nephropathy. Experimental Physiology. (2016) 101 (6):731-42. Link
  • Diabetes UK Early Career Research grant – January 2016-January 2017 - Artificial sweeteners reduce diabetes-induced vascular permeability through sweet taste receptor signalling pathways - £14,937
  • American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship – July 2013-April 2015 - Mechanisms regulating the pulmonary endothelium through VE-cadherin trafficking - £100,000

Selected recent publications

Publications in the last three years

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 absorptionActa Physiology. 22, e13650. 

Shil, A., Davies, C., Gautam, L., Roberts, J., Chichger, H. 2021Investigating the opposing effect of two different green tea supplements on oxidative stress, mitochondrial function and cell viability in HepG2 cellsJournal 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 individualsNutrients. 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.

Rodrigues, J. G. C., Chichger, H., 2019. At Physiologically Relevant Concentrations, Valproic Acid and Lithium Carbonate Reduce Oxidative Stress in Human Astrocytoma Cells. European Medical Journal – Neurology. 7(1), p. 71.

Chichger, H., Rounds, S., Harrington, E.O., 2019. Endosomes and Autophagy: Regulators of Pulmonary Endothelial Cell Homeostasis in Health and Disease. Antioxidants & Redox Signalling, 31(13), p. 994.

Harrington, E. O., Vang, A., Braza, A., Chichger, H, 2018. Activation of the sweet taste receptor, T1R3, by the artificial sweetener sucralose regulates the pulmonary endothelium. American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. 314(1), L165.

Recent presentations and conferences

An orphan GPRC which regulates neovascularisation – a novel target for anti-VEGF therapies? Gordon Research Conference – Angiogenesis, Rhode Island. August 2019.

Bitter taste receptors regulate microvascular permeability. International Vascular Biology Organisation conference, Helsinki, June 2018.

The Role of Taste Sensing in the Pulmonary Endothelium. NHLBI Research Seminar, Imperial College London, June 2018.

Activation of the sweet taste receptor attenuates VEGF-induced angiogenesis. Diabetes UK Professional Conference, London, March 2018.

Artificial Sweetener Sucralose Protects the Pulmonary Endothelium from LPS-induced permeability. American Thoracic Society conference, San Francisco, May 2016.

Endosomal proteins p18 and Rab4 are differentially regulated in pulmonary hypertension and COPD/emphysema. American Thoracic Society conference, San Francisco, May 2016.

Novel Regulation of the Pulmonary Endothelium. Cambridge Cardiovascular Research Seminar, Cambridge University, October 2015.

The Endosome in Pulmonary Disease. Rhode Island Hospital Clinical Pulmonary Seminar, Brown University, February 2015.

Media experience

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 

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

Autumn 2018: Article in Physiology News on mobility in science (Issue 11, page 24)

19 March 2018: Article in The Conversation based on physiological roles of artificial sweeteners

29 January 2018: Feature on artificial sweeteners on the BBC One Food Truth or Scare television programme (Episode 1)

May 2016: several media outlets, including TIME magazine, Independent newspaper and Science Daily online, covered research from the Experimental Physiology publication based on the role of the junk-food diet on kidney function. 

10 May 2016: interview on KCBS radio (USA) regarding the Experimental Physiology publication