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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.
Molecular & Clinical Sciences Research Institute

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 8,000 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 Elijah Behr
    • Professor Sanjay Sharma
    • Professor Maite Tome
    • Professor Michael Papadakis.
    • Dr Chris Miles
    • Dr Gherardo Finocchiaro

    Professor Sheppard is on the steering committee of the NHS Sudden Cardiac Death pathway for family screening and genetic testing. She is also a member of a UK strategy group for aortic dissection with Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery. Additionally, she is on the steering committee for the SGUL Cardiac Tissue Biobank. Professor Sheppard is a cardiac pathology teacher recognised by the Royal College of pathologists. 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 500 peer reviewed papers, 35 book chapters and 9 international guidelines. She published the third edition of her book on cardiovascular pathology in 2022. She co-wrote guidelines on the investigation of sudden cardiac death issued by the Royal College of Pathologists updated in 2021 and is also co-author on international guidelines. 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

Mary Sheppard (0000-0003-2724-3881) (

  • 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
  1. Finocchiaro G, Westaby J, Behr ER, Papadakis M, Sharma S, Sheppard MN. Association of Sexual Intercourse With Sudden Cardiac Death in Young Individuals in the United Kingdom. JAMA Cardiol. 2022 Mar 1;7(3):358-359. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2021.5532. PMID: 35019956; PMCID: PMC8756354.
  2. Khairy P, Silka MJ, Moore JP, DiNardo JA, Vehmeijer JT, Sheppard MN, van de Bruaene A, Chaix MA, Brida M, Moore BM, Shah MJ, Mondésert B, Balaji S, Gatzoulis MA, Ladouceur M. Sudden cardiac death in congenital heart disease. Eur Heart J. 2022 Jun 6;43(22):2103-2115. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehac104. PMID: 35302168.
  3. Jensen B, Strijkers GJ, Petersen SE, Sheppard MN, Oostra RJ, Christoffels VM. Reply to Stöllberger et al. J Anat. 2022 Jun;240(6):1207-1209. doi: 10.1111/joa.13625. Epub 2022 Feb 1. PMID: 35106781; PMCID: PMC9119612.
  4. Ameratunga R, Woon ST, Sheppard MN, Garland J, Ondruschka B, Wong CX, Stewart RAH, Tatley M, Stables SR, Tse RD. First Identified Case of Fatal Fulminant Necrotizing Eosinophilic Myocarditis Following the Initial Dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine (BNT162b2, Comirnaty): an Extremely Rare Idiosyncratic Hypersensitivity Reaction. J Clin Immunol. 2022 Apr;42(3):441-447. doi: 10.1007/s10875-021-01187-0. Epub 2022 Jan 3. PMID: 34978002; PMCID: PMC8720536.
  5. Cooper STE, Westaby JD, Haines ZHR, Malone GO, Sheppard MN, Meijles DN. Of Mouse and Man: Cross-Species Characterization of Hypertensive Cardiac Remodeling. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jul 12;23(14):7709. doi: 10.3390/ijms23147709. PMID: 35887055; PMCID: PMC9323458.
  6. Sheppard MN. Beware the Possible Dangers of Chemsex-Is Illicit Drug-Related Sudden Cardiac Death Underestimated?-Reply. JAMA Cardiol. 2022 Oct 1;7(10):1081. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2022.2210. PMID: 35895035.
  7. Coelho-Lima J, Westaby J, Sheppard MN. Cardiac arrest with successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation and survival induce histologic changes that correlate with survival time and lead to misdiagnosis in sudden arrhythmic death syndrome. Resuscitation. 2022 Jun;175:6-12. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2022.04.002. Epub 2022 Apr 9. PMID: 35405310.
  8. Riekerk HCE, Coolen BF, J Strijkers G, van der Wal AC, Petersen SE, Sheppard MN, Oostra RJ, Christoffels VM, Jensen B. Higher spatial resolution improves the interpretation of the extent of ventricular trabeculation. J Anat. 2022 Feb;240(2):357-375. doi: 10.1111/joa.13559. Epub 2021 Sep 26. PMID: 34569075; PMCID: PMC8742974.
  9. Margaritis M, Saini F, Baranowska-Clarke AA, Parsons S, Vink A, Budgeon C, Allcock N, Wagner BE, Samani NJ, Thüsen JV, Robertus JL, Sheppard MN, Adlam D. Erratum to: Vascular histopathology and connective tissue ultrastructure in spontaneous coronary artery dissection: pathophysiological and clinical implications. Cardiovasc Res. 2022 May 12:cvac070. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvac070. Epub ahead of print. Erratum for: Cardiovasc Res. 2021 May 28;: PMID: 35553642.
  10. Bueno-Beti C, Field E, Tsatsopoulou A, Perry G, Sheppard MN, Behr ER, Saffitz JE, Kaski JP, Asimaki A. Analysis of buccal mucosa as a prognostic tool in children with arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy. Prog Pediatr Cardiol. 2022 Mar;64:None. doi: 10.1016/j.ppedcard.2021.101458. PMID: 35300203; PMCID: PMC8917042.
  11. Bhatia RT, Khoury S, Westaby J, Behr ER, Papadakis M, Sharma S, Finocchiaro G, Sheppard MN. Mitral valve abnormalities in decedents of sudden cardiac death due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and idiopathic left ventricular hypertrophy. Heart Rhythm. 2022 Oct;19(10):1684-1685. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2022.04.026. Epub 2022 Apr 29. PMID: 35500788.
  12. Margaritis M, Saini F, Baranowska-Clarke AA, Parsons S, Vink A, Budgeon C, Allcock N, Wagner BE, Samani NJ, von der Thüsen J, Robertus JL, Sheppard MN, Adlam D. Vascular histopathology and connective tissue ultrastructure in spontaneous coronary artery dissection: pathophysiological and clinical implications. Cardiovasc Res. 2022 Jun 22;118(7):1835-1848. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvab183. Erratum in: Cardiovasc Res. 2022 May 12;: PMID: 34048532; PMCID: PMC9215198.
  13. Clerk A, Meijles DN, Hardyman MA, Fuller SJ, Chothani SP, Cull JJ, Cooper STE, Alharbi HO, Vanezis K, Felkin LE, Markou T, Leonard SJ, Shaw SW, Rackham OJL, Cook SA, Glennon PE, Sheppard MN, Sembrat JC, Rojas M, McTiernan CF, Barton PJ, Sugden PH. Cardiomyocyte BRAF and type 1 RAF inhibitors promote cardiomyocyte and cardiac hypertrophy in mice in vivo. Biochem J. 2022 Feb 11;479(3):401-424. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20210615. PMID: 35147166; PMCID: PMC8883496.
  14. Westaby JD, Miles C, Chis Ster I, Cooper STE, Antonios TF, Meijles D, Behr ER, Sheppard MN. Characterisation of hypertensive heart disease: pathological insights from a sudden cardiac death cohort to inform clinical practice. J Hum Hypertens. 2022 Mar;36(3):246-253. doi: 10.1038/s41371-021-00507-6. Epub 2021 Mar 2. PMID: 33654238.
  15. Koushesh S, Shahtaheri SM, McWilliams DF, Walsh DA, Sheppard MN, Westaby J, Haybatollahi SM, Howe FA, Sofat N. The osteoarthritis bone score (OABS): a new histological scoring system for the characterisation of bone marrow lesions in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2022 May;30(5):746-755. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2022.01.008. Epub 2022 Feb 3. PMID: 35124198; PMCID: PMC9395274.
  16. Sudden Cardiac Death Among Adolescents in the United Kingdom - PubMed (
  17. Transvenous Lead Extraction: Work in Progress - PubMed (
  18. An mTORC1-Dependent Mouse Model for Cardiac Sarcoidosis - PubMed (
  19. A Comprehensive Research Schema for the Characterization of Aortic Aneurysms - PubMed (
  20. Dataset for the reporting of neoplasms of the heart, pericardium, and great vessels: recommendations from the International Collaboration on Cancer Reporting (ICCR) - PubMed (
  21. Sudden Cardiac Death During Exercise in Young Individuals With Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - PubMed (
  22. Genetically determined cardiomyopathies at autopsy: the pivotal role of the pathologist in establishing the diagnosis and guiding family screening - PubMed (
  23. Coronary Artery Dissection and Myocardial Infarction With Nonobstructed Coronary Arteries: Insights From a UK Nationwide Autopsy-Based Registry-Brief Report - PubMed (
  24. Potential Diagnostic Role for a Combined Postmortem DNA and RNA Sequencing for Brugada Syndrome - PubMed (
  25. Histological evidence of a connection between true and false lumen in spontaneous coronary artery dissection - PubMed (
  26. Myocarditis and Sudden Cardiac Death in the Community: Clinical and Pathological Insights From a National Registry in the United Kingdom - PubMed (
  27. The role of the bicuspid aortic valve in sudden cardiac death-findings at cardiac autopsy - PubMed (
  28. Innate Immune Signaling in Hearts and Buccal Mucosa Cells of Patients with Arrhythmogenic Cardiomyopathy - PubMed (
  29. Sudden cardiac death in the young: A consensus statement on recommended practices for cardiac examination by pathologists from the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology - PubMed (
  30. Effect of sex, age and body measurements on heart weight, atrial, ventricular, valvular and sub-epicardial fat measurements of the normal heart - PubMed (
  31. Sudden arrhythmic death and cardiomyopathy are important causes of sudden cardiac death in the UK: results from a national coronial autopsy database - PubMed (

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
  • Professor Michael Papadakis, Cardiologist, sudden cardiac death, SGUL
  • Dr Madgi Saba – Cardiologist. arrhythmias SGUL
  • Professor 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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