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

Physiology TV

An overview of Physiology at the University of Otago.

News

9th January, 2018

Otago breakthrough in diabetic heart disease

The molecule responsible for heart disease in diabetics has been identified by University of Otago researchers, greatly improving chances of survival.

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.

Next Event

22nd January, 2018

Dr. rer. nat. Fenja Knopp (Excellence Cluster Cardio-Pulmonary System, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany)

 
PhD Programme.

Seminars

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, 22nd January 2018 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Dr. rer. nat. Fenja Knopp (Excellence Cluster Cardio-Pulmonary System, Justus-Liebig University, Giessen, Germany)

Ion channels - cellular sensors that are crucial for blood pressure regulation

Vascular reactivity is defined as the responsiveness of blood vessels to a specific stimulus, thereby contributing to blood pressure regulation. Despite intensive research, the underlying molecular mechanisms of how blood vessels sense physiological stimuli, such as O2-deprivation (hypoxia) or mechanical stress are yet incompletely understood. Ion channels, known to be critical for physiological vascular reactivity, are expressed at the interface between the internal and external milieu of cells - thus representing suitable cellular sensors. My research, presented in this talk, focuses on deciphering how ion channels in the vasculature sense hypoxia and shear force and how these mechanisms contribute to blood pressure regulation.

Department of Physiology

Monday, 19th February 2018 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

(i) Navneet Lal & (ii) Nathan Skinner (1-yr PhD Presentations)

(i) Age-related deterioration of mouse skeletal muscle: a role for connective tissue infiltration

(i) Skeletal muscles undergo progressive atrophy and exhibit weakness in old age. These conditions have been termed sarcopenia (muscle atrophy) and dynapenia (muscle weakness) and underpin the age-related muscular dysfunction which reduce an individual’s ability to cope with activities of daily living and increase the likelihood of losing independence in old age. How or why this deterioration occurs is not clearly understood and much of our understanding is based on knowledge of normal tissue atrophy. In the context of skeletal muscle, reductions in the size (via muscle fibre atrophy) or number (via muscle fibre death) of muscle fibres are thought to primarily underpin both muscle atrophy and weakness. However, the magnitude of individual muscle fibre atrophy and death do not adequately explain the magnitude of whole muscle atrophy or weakness. Therefore, there is a need to re-examine the current model of age-related muscle loss. Recent data from our laboratory has shown that the interface between muscle fibres and connective tissue undergoes age-related elongation and becomes increasingly ramified, suggesting a role for connective tissue expansion and infiltration in age-related muscular deterioration. In light of our recent findings, we sought to describe and quantify the age-related expansion of major connective tissue investments within skeletal muscle, elucidate its role in muscle atrophy and characterise its consequences on muscle function. Our findings suggest that tendinous tissue elongates with age, such that the origins of the proximal and distal tendons become overlapped within the mid-belly region of elderly muscles. We determined that this overlap precludes accurate muscle fibre counts from standard histological cross sections, leading to systematic underestimation of muscle fibre number in elderly animals. The expansion of this connective tissue is accompanied by an increase in compliance, potentially reducing the efficacy of muscle force transmission. Our data shows that the structure and integrity of tendons degrade with age and this has a role in age-related muscle fibrosis and weakness.

Department of Physiology

Monday, 26th February 2018 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Rachel Lund (1-yr PhD Presentation)

Exploring serum estrogen receptor α- and β- bioactivity as a prognostic tool for breast cancer.

Estrogen receptor  and – bioactivity of serum from breast cancer patients may be a useful, but largely overlooked measurement for predicting breast cancer risk in a clinical setting. Currently, serum estradiol (E2) levels are measured through radioimmunoassays (RIA) and used as a prognostic marker in breast cancer patients due to the established correlation between high E2 levels and breast cancer risk (Hankinson & Eliassen, 2007). However, it has been previously shown that high levels of ER and – bioactivity are associated with breast cancer and is a more reliable predictor of breast cancer risk compared to E2 levels alone (Widschwendter et al., 2009; Lim et al., 2014). Importantly, this correlation between high ER bioactivity and breast cancer risk was evident more than 2 years prior to diagnosis (Fourkala et al., 2011). Therefore, my PhD is focusing on developing ER and – bioassays for medical purposes as a reliable tool to measure ER bioactivity in serum samples received from breast cancer patients.

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I really see no harm which can come of giving our children a little knowledge of physiology.

Thomas Henry Huxley - Science and Culture (1882), 92