Leonid_ N Aug

Dr Leonid Nikitenko

Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences

Faculty of Health Sciences


01482 462062

Dr Leonid Nikitenko is an endothelial cell biologist. His basic and clinical laboratory research is focused on characterising molecular mechanisms regulating endothelial cell function in cancer, cardiovascular disease and lymphoedema.

Alumni from Dr Nikitenko’s laboratory and his former tutees at the University of Hull are next generation biomedical scientists who now continue their careers at the Universities of Oxford, Warwick, Manchester and London or in hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry and biotech companies nationwide and abroad.


Research Interests

  • Endothelial cell biology in health and disease

  • Cancer biology

  • Cardiovascular biology

  • Lymphatic system and lymphoedema pathogenesis

  • Tumour microenvironment (angiogenesis and metastasis)

  • G-protein coupled receptors

  • Matricellular proteins and cancer progression

  • Genomics and transcription factors

  • Renal cancer and sarcoma biology

  • Mesenchymal stem cell biology

Research groups

Endothelial Cell Biology in Health and Disease Laboratory at the School of Life Sciences.

The main focus of Dr Nikitenko’s research laboratory is on characterising novel molecular mechanisms which regulate endothelial cell function in health and pathology, including cancer, lymphoedema and cardiovascular disease.  This includes characterisation of vasoactive and angiogenic peptides, matricellular proteins and their receptors, and transcription factors. The prospective long-term goal of Dr Nikitenko’s research is to contribute to the development of more efficient therapies for chronic diseases associated with vascular and lymphatic dysfunction.

In his studies, Dr Nikitenko applies interdisciplinary approach and a range of cell and molecular biology methods and techniques to model human diseases. This includes primary human cells, two- and three-dimensional in vitro models, gene editing, clinical investigations using human tissues, gene expression microarray technology and bioinformatics." 

Dr Nikitenko’s research is based on long-term collaborations within the UK and globally (Japan, Belgium and Sweden) which have so far yielded several discoveries and patents in the fields of cancer and vascular biology.

Internal networks:

  • Member of the Cardiovascular Biology Research Group

  • Member of the Cancer Biology (Tumour Microenvironment) Research Group

  • Member of the University of Hull-HYMS Joint Centre for Cancer Studies

  • Member of the Bioscience Education research group

External collaborations:

  • Dr Sarah De Val (University of Oxford)

  • Dr Nischalan Pillay (University College London)

  • Dr Christine Blancher (University of Oxford)

  • Dr Tatsuo Shimosawa (University of Tokyo)


Sacilotto N, Chouliaris K, Nikitenko L L, Lu Y W, Fritzsche M, Wallace M, Nornes S, Garcia M-F, Payne S, Bridges E, Liu K, Biggs D, Ratnayaka I, Herbert S P, Molnar Z, Harris A L, Davies B, Bond G, Bou-Gharios G, Schwarz J J and De Val S (2016), 'MEF2 Transcription Factors are the Master Regulators of Sprouting Angiogenesis', Genes and Development 30(20), 2297-2309.

Nikitenko L L, Leek R, Henderson S, Turley H, Generali D, Gunningham S, Morrin H, Pellagatti A, Pillay N, Rees M C P, Harris A L, Fox S B (2013), 'The G-protein Coupled Receptor CLR is Upregulated in an Autocrine Loop with Adrenomedullin in Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma and Associated with Poor Prognosis', Clinical Cancer Research, 19(20), 5740-8.

Nikitenko L L, Shimosawa T, Henderson S, Makinen T, Shimosawa H, Qureshi U, Pedley R B, Rees M C P, Fujita T, Boshoff C (2013), 'Adrenomedullin Haploinsufficiency Predisposes to Secondary Lymphedema', Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 133(7), 1768-76.

Hansen A, Henderson S, Lagos D, Nikitenko L L, Coulter E, Roberts S, Gratrix F, Plaisance K, Renne R, Bower M, Kellam P, Boshoff C (2010), 'KSHV-encoded miRNAs Target MAF to Induce Endothelial Cell Reprogramming', Genes and Development, 24(2), 195-205.

Akoulitchev A, Ramadass A, Nikitenko L L (2011), DNA Conformation (Loop Structures) in Normal and Abnormal Gene Expression.

Full list


Programmes taught on (2019)

Modules list


Level 7

● Research Project and Dissertation

● Tumour Immunology and Microenvironment

● Research Skills in Oncology and Biomedical Science

● Current Topics in Biomedical Science

● Tumour Immunology and Microenvironment


Level 6

● Cancer Biology (module coordinator)

● Research Project and Dissertation (20 and 40 credit)

● Cellular Pathology

● Reviews of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

Level 5

● Biological Basis of Disease

● Professional and Research Skills for Biomedical Sciences and Human Biology

Level 4

● Cell Structure and Function (module coordinator)

● Skills for Biomedical Sciences and Human Biology

Research PhDs

Applications from prospective PhD or MSc by Research (MRes) students wishing to join Dr Nikitenko’s research group and thriving postgraduate community at the School of Life Sciences are welcome at any time.

In particular, Dr Nikitenko invites expression of interest and applications in the following areas of research.

  • Novel molecular mechanisms regulating endothelial cells differentiation, angiogenesis and lymphatic function in health and disease.

  • G-protein coupled receptors as targets for imaging and therapy in cardiovascular disease, cancer and lymphoedema.

  • Next generation sequencing and bioinformatics approaches to study endothelial and cancer cell biology.

  • Three-dimensional models and gene editing to study the role for tumour microenvironment in cancer progression.

  • Vasoactive and angiogenic peptides and their receptors.

  • Matricellular proteins and their role in cancer progression and resistance to therapies.

  • Lymphatic system and pathogenesis of lymphedema.

  • Cancer progression and resistance to targeted (including anti-angiogenic) therapies in renal carcinoma and sarcoma.

  • Intra- and inter-tumour heterogeneity.

Teaching awards and accolades

Professional highlights

Academic qualifications

  • Doctor of Sciences (2007) (Biological Sciences; Pathophysiology), Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Russian Federation

  • MA (2002) Linacre College, Oxford

  • PhD (1997) (Biological Sciences; Cell and Developmental Biology), Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, Russian Federation

  • MSc (1994) (equivalent to Distinction; Human Physiology), University of Irkutsk, Russian Federation

  • BSc (1994) (equivalent to First Class Hons; Biological Sciences), University of Irkutsk, Russian Federation

Awards and accolades

  • 2012-2019, EPA Cephalosporin Adjunct Fellowship at Linacre College, Oxford

  • 2014, Gordon Research Conference Young Investigator Award, USA

  • 2014, Young Investigator Award, IRCMS, University of Kumamoto, Japan

  • 2014, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation/Royal Society Grant, Japan/UK

  • 2007, Cancer Research UK Travel Award

  • 2006, The Royal Society Travel Award

  • 2006, International Society for Hypertension Young Investigator Award, UK/Japan.

  • 2004, The University of Oxford Merit Award

  • 2003, The Royal Society Travel Award

  • 2002, EPA Cephalosporin Junior Research Fellowship at Linacre College, Oxford