The majority of people that suffer a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction; MI) die within the first few hours following the MI. This high early morbidity has been strongly linked with a sustained over-stimulation of the nerves that control heart function; specifically sympathetic nerve activity (SNA). Unfortunately, even if you survive the initial heart attack, this over-stimulated SNA to the heart facilitates progressive damage of the heart tissue, such that the long-term survival prognosis is bleak. Currently, the mechanisms that govern the increase in SNA following acute MI remains to be fully elucidated, although both peripheral and central modulation have been implicated via the cardio-cardiac reflex.
Research Question and Objectives
Advanced electrophysiological techniques will be used, in vivo, to address the fundamental objectives of this line of research, which are i) to broaden our knowledge concerning the central neural mechanisms that modulate cardiac SNA, with specific emphasis on the role of the paraventricular nucleus, ii) identify the relative role of the cardio-cardiac reflex (e.g. vagal and sympathetic) for modulating the central integration of SNA following acute MI and iii) identify potential therapeutic targets (within the CNS) to prevent the adverse increase in SNA following acute MI.
Applications to undertake a PhD in Physiology are welcome at any time. Candidates can be of any nationality and must have attained an excellent degree (MSc with significant research component or a 4 years of Bachelors with Honours degree) in biomedical science or a closely-related subject.
1. Applicants are encouraged to first contact the supervisor(s) by email with the following details:
o Your name and country of citizenship
o Your CV
o Certified academic transcript (and, if applicable, an explanation of the content)
o Certified evidence of English language proficiency (eg IELTS or TOEFL results)
o The names of two referees
2. If your application is to be considered, the supervisor will contact you to discuss the next steps, and our Departmental Administrator will check that your documents are complete.
3. Funding: The PhD project will be funded by the University of Otago doctoral scholarship (tuition fees and a tax-free personal allowance of NZD$27,000 pa for 36 month). Successful candidates are expected to apply and be awarded a scholarship.
For further information on research in the Department see our research section at https://www.otago.ac.nz/physiology/research/index.html