University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Department of Pharmacology

Bio for Thomas J. Heppner, Ph.D.
Thomas J. Heppner, Ph.D.

Thomas J. Heppner, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacology

Contact Information
Office Location:
Given Bldg C315


Dr. Heppner received his B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, and in 1986 received his Ph.D. in Toxicology and Neurobiology from Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. His postdoctoral work was in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Vermont and joined the faculty in the Department of Pharmacology in 1993 as a Research Associate.

Research Interests

Dr. Heppner’s research is focused on the role played by ion channels in modulating the activity of smooth muscle from the urinary bladder and coronary arteries. These studies are concerned primarily with potassium and calcium ion channels and examine: 1) how these channels are regulated, and 2) the role played by these channels in controlling membrane excitability. A wide variety of electrophysiological techniques and calcium imaging techniques are used to measure ion channel activity in cell cultures, acutely dissociated cells and in intact tissue preparations. In addition, Dr. Heppner is interested in mechanisms underlying the potentiation of synaptic transmission in the autonomic nervous system.


For a complete list of Thomas J. Heppner's publications, please visit PubMed.

2014  Krishnamoorthy G, Sonkusare SK, Heppner TJ, Nelson MT.  Opposing roles of smooth muscles BK channels and ryanodine receptors in the regulation of nerve-evoked constriction of mesenteric resistance arteries. Am J Physiology Heart Circ Physiol.  doi:  10.1152/ajpheart.00866.2013.  PMID:  24508642,  PMCID:  PMC3962638

2012  Sonkusare SK, Bonev AD, Ledoux J, Liedtke W, Kotlikoff MI, Heppner TJ, Hill-Eubanks DC, Nelson MT.  Elementary Ca2+ signals through endothelial TRPV4 channels regulate vascular function.  Science.  doi:  10.1126/science.1216283.  HIHMS486070.  PMID:  22556255, PMCID:  PMC3715993.  Editor's Choice (L.B. Ray, Blood Pressure Gauge.  Sci. Signal. 5, ec131), featured in a Perspective in the same issue and a Podcast:

2012  Nausch LW, Boneve AD, Heppner TJ, Tallini Y, Kotlikoff MI, Nelson MT.  Sympathetic nerve stimulation induces local endothelial Ca2+ signals to oppose vasoconstriction of mouse mesenteric arteries.  Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol.  doi:  10.1152/ajpheart.00773.2011.  PMID:  22140050,  PMCID:  PMC3353782.  Featured in a Podcast:

2011  Hill-Eubanks DC, Werner ME, Heppner TJ, Nelson MT.  Calcium signaling in smooth muscle.  Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol.  doi:  10.1101/cshperspect.a004549.  PMCID: 21709182, PMCID:  PMC3181028

2011  Heppner TJ, Layne JJ, Pearson JM, Sarkissian H, Nelson MT.  Unique properties of muscularis mucosae smooth muscle in guinea pig urinary bladder.  Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol.   doi:  10.1152/ajpregu.00656.2010.  PMID:  21632849, PMCID:  PMC3154705
2010  Zarva P, Wright AJ, Roach K, Ursiny M, Shapiro B, Dagrosa LM, Nelson MT, Heppner TJ.  A non-anesthetized mouse model for recording sensory urinary bladder activity.  Front Neurol.  doi:  10.3389/fneur.2010.00127.eCollection 2010.  PMID: 21188259, PMCID:  PMC3008862

2010  Nausch B, Heppner TJ, Nelson MT.  Nerve-released acetylcholine contracts urinary bladder smooth muscle by inducing action potentials independently of IP3-mediated calcium release.  Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol.  doi:  10.1152/ajpregu.00180.2010.   PMID:  20573989, PMCID:  PMC2944423

2009 Heppner TJ, Werner ME, Nausch B, Vial C, Evans RJ, Nelson MT.  Nerve-evoked purinergic signaling suppresses action potentials, Ca2+ flashes and contractility evoked by muscarinic receptor activation in mouse urinary bladder smooth muscle.  J Physiol.  doi:  10.1113/jphyiol.2009.178806.  PMID:  1973601, PMCID:  PMC2790264

2007  Mandala M, Heppner TJ, Bonev AD, Nelson MT.  Effect of endogenous and exogenous nitric oxide on calcium sparks as targets for vasodilation in rat cerebral artery.  Nitric Oxide.  doi:  10.1016/j.niox.2006.06.007.  PMID:  16899379

2006  Balemba OB, Heppner TJ, Bonev AD, Nelson MT, Mawe GM.  Calcium waves intact guinea pig gallbladder smooth muscle cells.  Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol.  doi:  10.1152/ajpgi.00035.2006.   PMID:  16710055

2006  Balemba OB, Salter MJ, Heppner TJ, Bonev AD, Nelson MT, Mawe GM.  Spontaneous electrical rhythmicity and the role of sarcoplasmic reticulum in the excitability of guinea pig gall bladder smooth muscle cells.  Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol.  doi:  10.1152/ajpgi.000310.2005.  PMID:  16293655

2006  Wilkerson MK, Heppner TJ, Bonev AD, Nelson MT.  Inositol trisphosphate receptor calcium release is required for cerebral artery smooth muscle cell proliferation.  Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol.  doi:  10.1152/ajpheart.01191.2004.  PMID:  16113072

2005  Earley S, Heppner TJ, Nelson MT, Brayden JE.  TRPV4 forms a novel Ca2+ signaling complex with ryanodine receptors and the BKCa channels.  Cir Res.  doi:  10.1161.01.RES.0000194321.60300.d6.  PMID:  16269659