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Professor Mary Sheppard

Professor of Cardiac Pathology
Mary acts as referral centre for sudden cardiac death in UK funded by Charity CRY.

Professor Mary Sheppard is a cardiac pathologist with a national and international reputation.

She is the director of unit that undertakes examination of the heart in cases of sudden cardiac death in UK. She has established a national cardiac pathology database, with funding from UK charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), which now has over 7,000 cases on file. The unit has built up a large biobank of heart tissue and genetic material for research.

Professor Sheppard's main area of interest are the cardiac conditions that cause sudden death in young people which are mainly inherited, such as sudden arrhythmic death, cardiomyopathies including dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy and idiopathic hypertrophy .

She works closely with cardiac genetics to examine phenotype/genotype expression. She also has an interest in cardiac development, anatomy and congenital heart disease.

The unit is a multiuser facility using histological techniques for diagnosis of heart disease. Scanning techniques are used to quantify changes which are diagnostic of specific cardiac diseases. The unit uses quantification and immunocytochemistry with a digital scanner for image analysis.

Professor Sheppard’s main focus is on the pathological diagnosis of sudden cardiac death. She collaborates with cardiologists who screen the families for these cardiac conditions throughout the UK. She works with scientists, as well as clinicians in understanding the pathophysiology underlying these conditions.

Professor Sheppard qualified in medicine from University College Cork, Ireland and did her postgraduate training in pathology in London.

She is consultant cardiac pathologist who works with scientists, clinical geneticists, genetics nurses and cardiologists. She collaborates with cardiologists including:

  • Professor Sanjay Sharma
  • Professor Elijah Behr
  • Dr Maite Tome
  • Dr Jan Till 
  • Dr Michael Papadakis.

Professor Sheppard is on the board of UK Association of Inherited Cardiac Conditions. She is also a member of a UK strategy group for aortic dissection with Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery. Additionally, she is on the board of the National Pilot study of unexplained death in the UK 2021. As well as this, she is honorary Professor at St Mary’s University of London and Imperial College, London and visiting professor to the Royal College of Pathologists of Australia and New Zealand, the Turkish Pathological Society and to the International Academy of Pathology.

Professor Sheppard does extensive research and teaching and has built up an international reputation in the field. She was awarded the Stokes Medal for her work by the Irish Cardiovascular Society in 2009 and gave the Phillip Poole Wilson memorial lecture in London in 2014. She was medical alumnus of year for University College of Cork, Ireland in 2015 and was awarded honorary fellowship of Royal College of Physicians in Ireland in 2018. She was also awarded professorship in University of Copenhagen in 2021.

Professor Sheppard is member of the council and was President of the European Association of Cardiovascular Pathology 2016 – 2018. She is on cardiac working groups in European Society of Pathology and European Society of Cardiology as well as American Society of Cardiovascular Pathology.

Professor Sheppard has published 400 peer reviewed papers, 35 book chapters and 9 international guidelines. She will publish the third edition of her book on cardiovascular pathology in 2021. She co-wrote guidelines on the investigation of sudden cardiac death issued by the Royal College of Pathologists updated in 2021. She acts as a reviewer for many publications and is on editorial board of Cardiovascular Pathology and Journal of Cardiac Disease and Development.

Professor Sheppard is on several international committees writing guidelines in training in:

  • cardiovascular pathology
  • investigation of sudden cardiac death
  • ischemic heart disease
  • congenital heart disease
  • cardiac hypertrophy.
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • Cardiac inflammation
  • Myocyte abnormalities
  • Fibrosis in the heart
  • Abnormal structure of the heart during development
  • Cardiac anatomy
  • Aortic disease including aortic aneurysms and inflammation of the aorta
  • Cardiac valve disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Vascular disease
  • Ischemic heart disease

Funding from UK based charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

  • Professor Elijah Behr, Cardiologist  Sudden cardiac death, channelopathies, SGUL
  • Professor Sanjay Sharma , - Cardiologist, sports related deaths SGUL
  • Dr Michael Papadakis, Cardiologist, sudden cardiac death, SGUL
  • Dr Madgi Saba – Cardiologist. arrhythmias SGUL
  • Dr Maite Tome – Cardiologist, Aortopathies, Cardiomyopathies, SGUL
  • Professor Nidhi Sofat Rheumatologist inflammation in synovium and heart, SGUL
  • Professor Bob Anderson – Anatomist, SGUL
  • Dr Angeliki Asamiki – Scientist, SGUL
  • Dr David Adlam – Cardiologist, Leicester
  • Dr Matthew Brown, Dr James Burton – Renal Physicians – Leicester.
  • Dr Kathryn Griffin, pathologist, Leeds Cardiovascular Research Institute
  • Professor Nicholas Lemos, Toxicologist, Director, Cameron Forensic Medical Sciences, Centre for Clinical Pharmacology,St Mary’s University,London

Runs annual Course on Cardiovascular Pathology


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