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

Physiology TV

An overview of Physiology at the University of Otago.


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.

28th August, 2017

Dr Andrew Bahn awarded Arthritis NZ Project Grant

Congratulations to Dr Bahn who has been awarded a $60K grant for his project “Identification of oxypurinol transporters to decipher drug-drug interactions in gout treatment”.

25th August, 2017

Congratulations to Lorna Daniels, PhD

Lorna Daniels’ PhD thesis has made the Health Sciences Divisional List of Exceptional Doctoral theses.

14th August, 2017

Professor Colin Brown recognised by the British Society for Neuroendocrinology (BSN)

Prof Brown has been awarded the 2017 Mortyn Jones Memorial Medal, which is awarded annually by the BSN.

Next Event

25th September, 2017

Professor John Evans (Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Otago Christchurch)

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, 25th September 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Professor John Evans (Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Otago Christchurch)

Isaac Newton knew things about cancer: An intersection of physics and biology

In spite of high levels of endeavour we are still unclear about how cancer begins and develops. This talk will suggest that neglect of physics in attempts to understand cell behaviour is a pivotal factor in the lack of success. The importance of mechanics in health is ancient knowledge but the knowledge is not widely incorporated into biological investigations. In particular, mechanical forces modify molecular activity and permit or suppress expression of oncogenes, and may provide the code to unravelling several mysteries about cancer.

Department of Physiology

Monday, 9th October 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Javier Jimenez Martin (1-yr PhD Presentation, Department of Physiology)


Department of Physiology

Monday, 16th October 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Dr Belinda Cridge (Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology)

Toxicology: health, agriculture and the environment: research examples and funding opportunities

I am a mechanistic toxicologist with a focus on animal toxicology, looking at situations where animals have been exposed to a toxic substance and determining what has happened. My current research is focused on the toxicity of swede plants in dairy cattle. We are investigating a range of potentially toxic compounds found in brassicas such as swedes, this stemmed from concerns about phototoxicity and deaths in cattle in Southland in 2014. In addition I am part of a team that is trying to grow toxicology as a discipline and will be talking about our initiatives in this area, including our current funding opportunity for researchers in health, public policy and environmental areas.

Department of Physiology

Monday, 30th October 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Dr Alexander Tups (Department of Physiology)

The circadian clock, metabolism and Alzheimer’s disease

Body weight is regulated by the interaction of hormones such as leptin and insulin in the hypothalamus. If the neuronal processing of these hormones is disturbed obesity develops. Interestingly, one consequence of midlife obesity and type 2 diabetes is a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease which is also referred to as type 3 diabetes by some researchers.

The interaction between the circadian clock and metabolism is a growing research field and working against our clock during our modern lifestyle, e.g. during jetlag and shift-work, has been identified to increase the risk to develop obesity and associated diseases.

Our lab focusses on understanding how the circadian clock e.g. the timing of food affects the central regulation of body weight in order to find the neuroendocrine correlate of the association between circadian timing and obesity. Furthermore, the importance of certain nutrients on neuronal health and on signalling pathways involved in Alzheimer’s disease will be presented.

Department of Physiology

Monday, 6th November 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Dr Rebecca Campbell (Department of Physiology)


Department of Physiology

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

Professor Alison Heather (Department of Physiology)


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 Andrew La Gerche, Sports Cardiology, Baker Institute, Melbourne

CRP focus group invited speaker

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

Department of Physiology

Monday, 11th December 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Dr Fenja Knopp (Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany)


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The Physiology Department's staff are so approachable and genuinely happy to help. Having lecturers be so positive and excited about their work makes study so much easier!

Allie Finlay - BSc (Physiology) student