Mark Nixon

BHF Research Fellow

  • Centre for Cardiovascular Science

Contact details



Queen's Medical Research Institute
Edinburgh Bioquarter
47 Little France Crescent

Post code
EH16 4TJ

Undergraduate teaching

Course Instructor: Endocrine Physiology and Pharmacology (Hons) 

Course Instructor: Pharmacology (Hons)

Board of Examiners: Pharmacology (Hons)

Postgraduate teaching

Couse Contributor: MSc by Cardiovascular Research 

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Lisa Ivatt (BHF PhD Studentship): 2020-2024

Clare Macleod (BHF PhD Studentship): 2020-2024

Past PhD students supervised

Luke Boyle (Clinical PhD Fellow): 2016-2023

Current research interests

Glucocorticoid excess in adipose tissue drives increased cardiovascular disease risk, including visceral obesity, hyperglycemia and hypertension. Thus, limiting glucocorticoid action in adipose tissue may reduce cardiovascular disease. My overarching research goal is to understand the physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms controlling adipose tissue glucocorticoid exposure. In particular, my group has undertaken studies to assess the impact of the neutrophil elastase (NE), corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG), glucocorticoid axis on adipose physiology. Plasma CBG binds glucocorticoids with high affinity and controls their plasma distribution and metabolic clearance. In humans, ~85% of circulating cortisol is bound by CBG, ~10% is bound to albumin, leaving only ~5% freely accessible to target tissues. Thus, changes in CBG levels or binding affinity alters the availability of biologically active glucocorticoids. My research combines pre-clinical murine models of obesity, insulin resistance, vascular dysfunction and atherosclerosis, with translational in vitro studies utilising primary human cells and collaborative clinical studies. Paired with distinct genetic and methodological tools, this provides my lab with a unique ability to functionally evaluate pathways hypothesised to regulate glucocorticoid biology, determine their importance in driving cardiovascular disease risk, directly translate those findings into human physiology, and ultimately identify more clinically effective targets for therapy development.

Knowledge exchange

I have established an international network of collaborators to support my research, including:



  • Prof Geoff Hammond and Prof Victor Viau (University of British Columbia, Canada).
  • Prof Onno Meijer and Dr Jan Kroon (Leiden University, Netherlands).
  • Prof Mauro Giacci (King’s College London).
  • Dr David Severs (Erasmus MC, Netherlands).
  • Dr Ingrid Gelissen (University of Sydney, Australia).
  • Dr Marie-Pierre Moisan (University of Bordeaux, France).
  • Dr Shuji Sai (Hohhaido University, Japan).
  • Dr Li Kang (University of Dundee).
  • Dr Ruth Morgan (SRUK).


Internal :

  • Prof Matt Bailey (CVS).
  • Prof Paddy Hadoke (CVS).
  • Prof Ruth Andrew (CVS).
  • Prof Rebecca Reynolds (CVS).
  • Prof Rob Semple (CVS).
  • Prof Roland Stimson (CVS).
  • Dr Cecile Benezech (CVS).
  • Dr Doug Gibson (CIR).
  • Orwa Falah (Vascular Surgeon, RIE)
  • Euan McGregor (Consultant Vascular Anaesthetist, RIE)

Current project grants

University of Edinburgh/University of Copenhagen Seed Funding: 2023-2024
BHF Project Grant: 2023-2025
BHF Basic Science Intermediate Research Fellow: 2018-2023
BHF PhD 4-Yr Studentship: 2020-2024
BHF PhD 4-Yr Studentship: 2020-2024

Past project grants

Bioscientifica COVID Response Award: 2020-2021
Society for Endocrinology Early Career Grant: 2011-2012

View all 22 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

Keystone Symposia (Drivers of diabetes), Palm Springs, May 2023

American Physiology Summit, Long Beach, April 2023

British Endocrine Society, Harrogate, November 2022


Adipose Tissue Discussion Group, Edinburgh, March 2023