Physiology

Protecting Blood Flow to the Brain in Health and Disease

Supervisor

Dr. Fiona McBryde, Prof. Julian Paton, Assoc. Prof. James Fisher

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Project code: MHS001

Our brain uses more energy than any other organ in our body, and thus has a constant and unrelenting demand for blood flow. Classic dogma holds that the brain’s blood supply is largely protected by ‘cerebral autoregulation’ - an intrinsic mechanism by which the brain arteries automatically constrict or dilate to keep flow remarkably constant across a wide pressure range. However, recent results have challenged this ‘textbook’ understanding of cerebral autoregulation, and it has become apparent that our understanding of the relationship between blood pressure and brain blood flow is far from complete. Our research team have recently developed a unique experimental approach to directly measure the pressure-flow relationship in the brain. Importantly, these measurements are performed in conscious subjects.

This project will permit the successful student to be involved in a high impact research project, with some of the worlds best integrative physiologists. We are part of the CardioVascular Autonomic Research Cluster in the Department of Physiology in Auckland. Co-supervisors will include renowned integrative physiologist Professor Julian Paton, and Human Physiologist Assoc Prof James Fisher. We provide a friendly and supportive environment, with absolutely cutting-edge techniques and skills. Interested students should email Dr McBryde (f.mcbryde@auckland.ac.nz) with an academic transcript.

Molecular mechanisms of heart dysfunction in diabetes

Supervisor

Kim Mellor, Lorna Daniels

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Project code: MHS004

The diabetes prevalence and mortality rate worldwide is rising dramatically. More than 80% of diabetic patients have heart failure, and it is clear that heart abnormalities in diabetic patients are distinctive from those observed in non-diabetes – and a specific treatment is urgently required. Our studies suggest that sugar mishandling may be a key instigator of heart damage in diabetes. The goal of this project is to fully characterize the pathways of glucose- and fructose-induced heart injury and test novel interventions to rescue heart dysfunction in diabetes. 

Optimizing outcomes after reperfusion surgery in stroke

Supervisor

Dr. Fiona McBryde, Prof. Julian Paton

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Project code: MHS018

Stroke occurs because of a catastrophic failure of blood flow to part of the brain. Clinicians at Auckland City Hospital are world leaders in the revolutionary technique of endovascular clot retrieval, where a blood clot is physically removed from the brain to allow reperfusion of damaged tissues, with vast benefits to patient recovery. Pressing questions remain about how best to optimize this reperfusion procedure for patients.

This project will examine anaesthesia choice and blood pressure management during reperfusion surgery, and assess the impact on the recovery from ischemic stroke, in a pre-clinical model. We will use the state-of-the-art Vevo3100 high resolution ultrasound to monitor brain blood flow in real-time. This project will be conducted in direct collaboration with clinical colleagues in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Anaesthesia at Auckland City Hospital. The CerebroVascular Research Lab is part of the Cardiovascular Autonomic Research Cluster in the Department of Physiology. We are a friendly and supportive team with a diverse range of research skills and interests into various cardiovascular diseases.

SKILLS:

  • Long-term recording of blood pressure and brain blood flow
  • Work with a model of experimental stroke
  • Behavioural testing to assess recovery from stroke
  • Histology
  • Data analysis
  • Scientific writing