Discipline of Physiology
The Discipline of Physiology is part of the School of Medical Sciences and is the focus of teaching and research in the physiological sciences at The University of Sydney.
Its research staff and students are located primarily at the Camperdown Campus of the University, in the Anderson Stuart Building and in the Medical Foundation Building. Academics in the discipline teach undergraduate programs in the Faculty of Science, and the Graduate Medical Program.
The research interests of the faculty span a broad range of topics in the physiological sciences, with particular research focus on neuroscience, cardiovascular physiology, reproductive physiology, and endocrine function. Techniques used in our laboratories include imaging, electrophysiology, molecular biology, and human and animal behaviour.
William C Stanley PhD
It is with great sadness that we advise of the sudden death of Professor Bill Stanley who joined the University of Sydney in January 2013 as Chair of Cardiovascular Physiology.
In this very short time Bill established himself as a greatly admired teacher, colleague and friend who was loved by many. Bill was a recognised expert on cardiac metabolism and physiology, and was also the Editor in Chief of the American Journal of Physiology – Heart & Circulation. Bill was a gentle, positive and friendly person but he was also passionate and innovative in his approaches to the study of cardiovascular disease.
He will be greatly missed and we express our deepest condolences to his wife Beth and family.
Investigation of mechanisms that cause Parkinson’s disease
Congratulations to four of our researchers who have received grants for research into Parkinson’s disease. Dr Haydn Allbutt and Dr Daniel Johnstone recently received 2013 Brain Foundation awards, while Drs Atomu Sawatari and Cathy Leamey have received an Innovation Award from the Michael J Fox Foundation.
Dr Allbutt’s research will examine how the disease spreads in the brain. The earliest reported pathology in the Parkinson’s disease brain is the aggregation of a small protein of unknown function called alpha-synuclein. The abnormal, aggregated form of this protein has become widely used as a marker for Parkinsonian pathology and has been used to characterise the parts of the brain that are affected by the disease.
There is evidence that a change in the structure of alpha-synuclein may lead to the abnormal changes in the brain that are characteristic of Parkinson’s disease. The research grant awarded to Haydn Allbutt will enable him and his co-workers to test this theory, and to investigate the mechanisms that cause abnormal alpha-synuclein to accumulate in the brain. This work will help us to understand better what is going on in the very early stages of Parkinson’s disease before it is even detected in humans, and how the disease spreads through the brain, so that we can potentially interfere with that process.
Daniel Johnstone’s project is entitled "Understanding how near infrared light protects against Parkinson's disease". Previous work by Dr Johnstone and his colleagues, Professors Jonathan Stone and John Mitrofanis, showed that applying near infrared light (NIr) to the head protects against neurodegeneration in rodent models of various brain diseases. More recently, his group showed that the brain is also protected following irradiation of remote tissue, such as the back, suggesting that NIr-induced neuroprotection can be mediated (at least partly) by some unknown circulating factor(s). The current project will investigate the mechanisms by which the application of NIr to a remote tissue protects the brain from degeneration. Specifically, they will test the novel idea that NIr-induced neuroprotection stimulates the proliferation of stem cells in the bone marrow, which are then released into the circulation and recruited specifically to sites of damage in the brain, where they induce repair of damaged nerve cells. This research has important implications for translating NIr into a treatment for patients. Dr Johnstone's research is also supported by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship, awarded earlier this year (in addition to an offer of a University of Sydney Post-doctoral Fellowship.
Drs Atomu Sawatari and Cathy Leamey ‘s study will determine whether the removal of extracellular structures known to be key regulators of neural plasticity, will improve therapeutic efficacy of neurotrophin treatment in a key brain area affected by the debilitating neurodegenerative disorder.