University of Otago.Department of Physiology.Department of Physiology.

Physiology TV

An overview of Physiology at the University of Otago.


13th November, 2017

Otago study could mean hope for infertile couples

Crucial new information about how the brain controls fertility has been unlocked by University of Otago researchers, with their findings just published in prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

13th November, 2017

Phenomenal success for Physiology researchers in latest Marsden funding round

Four 3-year project grants were awarded to Department of Physiology researchers in this year’s Marsden Fund - totalling over $3.8M.

25th October, 2017

Charlotte Steel, BSc (Hons) NEUR student in the Department has gained a Cambridge Rutherford Memorial PhD Scholarship

Our congratulations to Charlotte who is currently completing a BSc (Hons) degree in Neuroscience in the Department of Physiology with supervisor Assoc Prof Phil Sheard.

8th September, 2017

PhD student wins two awards at Queenstown Research Week

Congratulations to Mauro Silva, PhD student in the Department of Physiology. Mauro is supervised by Dr Rebecca Campbell.

8th September, 2017

Triennial Medal awarded to Professor Colin Brown

Congratulations to Colin who as been chosen by the Physiological Society of NZ (PSNZ) to be the recipient of the NZ Triennial Medal.

Next Event

20th November, 2017

Dr Jenny Clarkson (Department of Physiology)

PhD Programme.


Unless stated otherwise, Departmental Seminars are held in the Hercus D'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00 on the day specified.

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Department of Physiology

Monday, 20th November 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Dr Jenny Clarkson (Department of Physiology)

The role of arcuate nucleus kisspeptin neurons in the generation of luteinising hormone pulses

The gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neurons are the final output neurons regulating fertility in mammals. GnRH is secreted from the GnRH nerve terminals into the pituitary-portal vasculature and causes the secretion of luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) into the peripheral circulation to regulate gonadal function. GnRH is secreted in a pulsatile manner, and this produces corresponding pulses of LH secretion. In the 1970s the arcuate nucleus (ARN) was identified as being the location of the “GnRH pulse generator”, however, the nature of this pulse generator has remained elusive. Within the ARN lies a population of neurons expressing the neuropeptide kisspeptin (KP), which is critical for fertility in mice and humans, and the dogma has arisen that the ARN KP neurons are the GnRH pulse generator. In the present experiments we have combined a sequential blood collection procedure with transgenic mice and the inhibitory optogenetic tools halorhodopsin (halo) and archaerhodopsin (ArchT) to remotely and reversibly control the activity of the ARN KP neurons and directly probe their role in the generation of LH pulses. Adeno-associated viral vectors (AAVs) were injected bilaterally into the ARN of KP-cre mice to specifically and exclusively target the expression of halo and ArchT to the ARN KP neurons. During the sequential blood sampling procedure, the ARN KP neurons were illuminated with 532nm laser light via an indwelling bilateral fiberoptic cannula for 30min. Illumination with 532nm light, and not 473nm light, resulted in an inhibition in LH secretion for at least the duration of illumination in KP-cre mice expressing either ArchT or halo in ARN KP neurons. Illumination of the ARN KP neurons of wildtype mice injected with the AAVs did not alter LH secretion. Taking advantage of the strong rebound excitation of ARN KP neurons following inhibition with halo, we found that re-setting the activity of the ARN KP neurons resulted in a re-setting of pulsatile LH secretion. These data indicate that the ARN KP neurons are critical for pulsatile secretion of GnRH and LH and likely represent the so-called “GnRH pulse generator”.

Department of Physiology

Monday, 27th November 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Assoc Prof André La Gerche, Sports Cardiology, Baker Institute, Melbourne

CRP focus group invited speaker

The importance of the pre-systemic circulation in health and disease

Exercise limitation is a major determinant of quality and length of life and yet the factors contributing to exercise capacity are poorly understood. Most studies have focused on the left ventricle and systemic circulation. Recent imaging advances have enabled us to assess the pulmonary circulation and right ventricle and there is accumulating evidence that this is as important, or possibly more important than the systemic circulation. This talk will address the concept that the pulmonary circulation is something of an Achilles’ Heel in the exercising circulation that has important ramifications in health (including elite athletes) and disease (including diabetes and heart failure).

Department of Physiology

Wednesday, 29th November 2017 - Barnett Lecture Theatre at 3.00 p.m.

Professor Paolo Madeddu (Professor of Experimental Cardiovascular Medicine, Bristol Heart Institute, University of Bristol)

Professor Madeddu is the Department of Physiology's Sir John Eccles Lecturer for 2017.

Cellular and gene therapy options for tissue repair: A paradigm shift in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Professor Paolo Madeddu is an eminent researcher in the field of cardiovascular research with more than 200 publications in highly ranked journals. He has vast experience studying the cardiovascular implications of diabetes. The overall goal of his present and future research consists of developing more effective strategies to treat limb and myocardial ischaemia. His research also addresses diabetes-related small vessel complications, in particular impairement in the formation of new blood vessels and wound healing. To achieve these aims, his group is applying state of the art concepts in the new field of therapeutic angiogenesis, which postulates that local delivery of growth factors that can promote clinically valuable increases in blood flow. Such growth factors are either delivered as proteins or as gene therapy. More recently, the idea has emerged that therapeutic angiogenesis can also be achieved using stem cell transplantation, and his group is currently engaged in studies aimed at challenging the therapeutic potential of human stem cells (embryonic, foetal, and adult) for the regeneration of wounded tissues in murine models of myocardial infarction and ischaemic diabetic wounds. In particular, he has ongoing clinical trial to determine the effect of specialised stem cells in improved recovery for patients with heart failure.

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It's fun getting your hands into the job, e.g. doing experiments on a beating heart. Suddenly all those theories you have been learning about, are made real!

Juliet Kane - BSc (Physiology) student