Associate Professor Ming Lei

Senior Research Fellow
Head of Cardiac Signalling Group
Cardiac Signalling
Department  Department of Pharmacology
College No College

Research summary

Cardiac arrhythmias occurring either independently or as a result of other cardiac, particularly hypertrophy and heart failure, conditions, account more than 50% of cardiac mortality that in turn lead to millions of deaths worldwide every year. Despite the enormity of this problem, the pathophysiological mechanisms leading to the cardiac arrhythmias that frequently constitute their terminal events, and safe and effective therapies still remain to be elucidated. Filling such major gaps in our knowledge and their translation into clinically useful outcomes will depend upon an in-depth understanding of fundamental arrhythmogenic mechanisms at both the ion channel and cell signalling regulatory levels.

Dr. Lei’s research seeks to understand cardiac ion channel function and its regulation under both physiological and pathophysiological conditions in a direction that will lead to a better understanding of hypertrophic and arrhythmic disorders, and the development of effective new therapeutic modalities. Dr Lei’s group combines advanced genetic manipulation technology with the state-of-the-art multi-scale electrophysiological and molecular approaches that extend through in vivo, ex vivo heart, isolated cardiac tissue and single cell electrophysiological and Ca2+ signal recording techniques, and integration of the results of these with a clarification of their molecular correlates and a reconstruction of their whole organ implications through mathematical modeling.

 His team has made fundamental contributions for identification of the novel roles of a multifunctional enzyme-p21 activated kinase (Pak1) in the heart, demonstrating that Pak1 is central to the regulation of cardiac excitation (Circ Res 2007) and as a critical signalling hub in cardioprotection (Circulation 2011, Circulation Heart Fail 2013; Circulation A & E 2014). His research has received substantial support from UK government and charity funding bodies and was attracted attention by the national and international media in 2011.


Key Research Areas

  1. Cardiac arrhythmias: to clarify arrhythmogenic mechanisms in specific cardiac disease conditions by using in vivo animal (e.g. genetically modified mouse models) and in vitro cell models (e.g. iPSC-CM models).
  2. Cardiac signalling: to identify the key cardiac protective signalling pathways and new therapeutic targets for developing novel therapeutic strategies for cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure and associated arrhythmias.
  3. Cardiac optogenetics: to develop novel optogenetic model systems for cardiac physiological, disease mechanistic and therapeutic research.  


Dr. Ming Lei joined the department in 2013. He received MB, BS and M Med at Tongji Medical University (Wuhan) in China and D.Phil in Physiology at University of Oxford in 1997. After 4 years experience of postdoctoral fellowship at Universities of Leeds and Oxford, he was awarded the Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellowship and started his research group in 2001 at University of Oxford. In 2005, he moved to University of Manchester as a senior lecturer and became Reader in Cardiac Physiology in 2012. He has published ~80 original articles and reviews in peer-review journals including those in top journals in the fields of cardiovascular research and physiology. His research has received substantial support from UK government and charity funding bodies including Medical Research Council, The Wellcome Trust and British Heart Foundation. He has been the guest editor of Progress in Molecular Biology and Biophysics, Guest Associate Editor of Frontier in Physiology and has been invited to give plenary/keynote lectures in various international scientific conferences and institutes. He is member of The Physiological Society, American Biophysical Society, British Society For Cardiovascular Research and European Working Group on Cardiac Cellular Electrophysiology, European Society of Cardiology.


  • Dr Yanwen Wang, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford
  • Dr Rebecca Capel, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford
  • Dr Emma Bolton, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford
  • Dr Wei Liu, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford
  • Miss Hoyee Tsui, PhD Student, University of Oxford
  • Mr Kushal Gandhi, PhD Student, University of Oxford
  • Dr S.M. Pearcey, Academic Foundation Training Doctor, University of Oxford
  • Prof. Christopher L-H Huang University of Cambridge
  • Prof. David J Paterson University of Oxford
  • Prof. Richard Vaughan-Jones University of Oxford
  • Dr. Xin Wang and Prof. Henggui Zhang University of Manchester
  • Prof R John Solaro University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
  • Dr. Thomas Zimmer University of Jena, Germany
  • Dr. Yuekun Ju University of Sydney, Australia
  • Prof. Giuseppe Faggian University of Verona School of Medicine, Italy
  • Prof. Zhuan Zhou Beijing University, P. R. of China