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

Physiology TV

An overview of Physiology at the University of Otago.


19th July, 2017

Congratulations to Daniel Barth, PhD

Our congratulations go to Daniel Barth on making the Health Sciences Divisional List of Exceptional Doctoral theses.

17th July, 2017

Associate Professor Ruth Empson awarded 2-year Neurological Foundation of NZ Project Grant

Congratulations to Associate Professor Ruth Empson who has been awarded a 2-year project grant ($193,844) for her project "Chloride Co-Transport - a Driving Force for Treating Human Cerebellar Ataxias”.

29th June, 2017

Winner of OMSRS Research Staff Speaker Awards from the Department of Physiology

Dr Carol Bussey was announced as the winner of 2017 Research Staff speaker award at the 239th Scientific Meeting of the Otago School of Medicine Research Society on 28th June.

23rd June, 2017

Two HRC Project Grants awarded to Physiology Professor

Congratulations to Professor Allan Herbison who is the recipient of two Health Research Council of NZ (HRC) Project Grants totalling almost $2.6 million.

12th May, 2017

Julia Gouws (MSc student) receives another accolade for her research

After being awarded 1st= for the School of Biomedical Sciences Dean’s Prize for best 2016/17 Summer Scholarship Report recently, Julia has received another prestigious award this week.

Next Event

31st July, 2017

(i) Sajida Parveen & (ii) Eugene Saw (PhD 1-year presentations, 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, 31st July 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

(i) Sajida Parveen & (ii) Eugene Saw (PhD 1-year presentations, Department of Physiology)

(i) Understanding Altered Heart Rate Generation in the Type 2 Diabetic Sinoatrial Node
(ii) Functional role of choline acetyltransferase in the diabetic heart

(i) Type 2 diabetes can result in an incompetence in heart rate regulation increasing the risk of arrhythmias. We recently found heart rate was comparable between type 2 diabetic rats and non-diabetic controls in vivo, however, ex vivo intrinsic heart rate (i.e., rate without autonomic input) was decreased in diabetic animals. Why the intrinsic rate is different remains unknown. Heart rate originates in the sinoatrial nodal cardiomyocytes and is initiated by the Ca2+ and voltage membrane clocks. The Ca2+ clock involves the intracellular Ca2+ store, the sarcoplasmic reticulum, including Ca2+ release and uptake via the ryanodine receptor and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase pump, respectively. The voltage membrane clock involves various sarcolemma ion transporters, primarily the hyperpolarisation-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channel 4 and Na+-Ca2+ exchanger. Heart rate is propagated via gap junction channels termed connexins. The aim of this study is to investigate whether a reduced intrinsic heart rate in diabetes is due to changes in the Ca2+ and/ or voltage membrane clocks.

(ii) Cardiomyocytes possess a non-neuronal cholinergic system (NNCS) which can independently synthesize and release acetylcholine (ACh). Recent studies have shown that NNCS enhances cardiac glucose uptake by upregulating the glucose transporter-4 (Glut-4) expression and translocation to against ischemic damage. Since reduced glucose uptake is the early event to initiate the development of diabetic heart disease (DHD), modulation of NNCS could be a therapeutic option. However, the involvement of NNCS in diabetic heart is currently unknown. Therefore, this study aims to determine the role of NNCS in relation to glucose uptake in the diabetic heart. The initial part of my study focuses on quantification of the ACh-synthesizing enzyme (Choline acetyltransferase, ChAT), type-2 muscarinic receptor (M2AChR) and Glut-4 expression in the Type-2 db/db mice and the human diabetic heart.

Department of Physiology

Monday, 7th August 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Elliot Pilmore (MSc Final Presentation, Department of Physiology)


Department of Physiology

Monday, 14th August 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Dr Kate Thomas (Surgical Sciences, Department of Medicine)


Department of Physiology

Monday, 21st August 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Professor Sharad Kumar (Centre for Cancer Biology, University of South Australia & SA Pathology, Adelaide)

Ubiquitination and the regulation of membrane proteins

Professor Kumar is the invited speaker for the Department's Membrane and Ion Transport Research Focus Group

Ubiquitination is a common protein modification process that is essential for the normal functioning of the cell. This seminar will discuss how ubiquitination regulates membrane proteins, such as the signalling receptors, ions channels and transporters, and the pathophysiological consequences of such a regulatory system. Data will be presented on the role of ubiquitination in iron and salt homeostasis, and in disease. The seminar should be of interest to a wide audience in biomedical sciences, biochemistry, cell biology and physiology.

Department of Physiology

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

Professor Alison Heather (Department of Physiology)


Department of Physiology

Monday, 18th September 2017 - Hercus d'Ath Lecture Theatre at 13:00.

Dr Karl Iremonger (Department of Physiology)


Department of Physiology

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

Dr Alexander Tups (Department of Physiology)


Department of Physiology

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

Dr Rebecca Campbell (Department of Physiology)


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My Summer Research Scholarship in the Department of Physiology was the highlight of my time at the University of Otago as I learnt many new skills, including how to carry out scientific research in a controlled manner, collecting and analyzing scientific data in an orderly fashion, and most importantly, learning to read and think critically.

Aye Thaung - Summer Research Student 2010/2011