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Developing new physiological based tools and devices to improve heart function

School of Medical Sciences

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Dr R Ramchandra Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) is a naturally occurring respiratory related modulation of heart rate giving rise to heart rate variability. Typically heart rate slows in early expiration and rises during inspiration. Interestingly, RSA is most prevalent in the young and in trained athletes but wanes with age. In cardiovascular disease, RSA is lost and is a prognostic indicator of mortality and morbidity. Despite its comprehensive characterization, the functional significance of RSA remains elusive.

The aim of this project is to better understand how respiratory sinus arrhythmia alters heart function. The studies will be carried out during normal physiology and also during pre-clinical models of heart disease. The insights gained from this project will inform design of better treatment and device strategies in cardiovascular disease. Specific projects can be tailored towards the strengths and interests of the student.

Eligibility: Applicants must have completed a postgraduate bachelors (honours) degree with first class or second class (division 1) honours, or a masters degree with first class or second class (division 1) honours in Biomedical Sciences or a related subject. In addition you completed a significant research project, dissertation or thesis, at university level.

Fees: If you are a new international PhD student, you will pay the same annual tuition fee as New Zealand PhD students. The 2019 PhD tuition fee is NZ$7,108.80 per annum. In additional to the tuition fee, there is a Student Services Fee estimated at $847.20 for full-time study.

Funding Notes

Grades or marks achieved at other institutions are given a Grade Point Equivalent (GPE) on the University’s 0-9 grading scale. If you have overseas qualifications you will typically need a GPE of 5.5 or over 8.0 to be eligible for a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship. We highly recommend that you calculate your GPE before applying. To view an indication of your GPE use our GPE calculator:

Information about the University of Auckland Doctoral Entry requirements can be found here:

Scholarships: Please see the following link


1: Leversha S, Allen AM, May CN, Ramchandra R. Intrathecal Administration of
Losartan Reduces Directly Recorded Cardiac Sympathetic Nerve Activity in Ovine
Heart Failure. Hypertension. 2019 Oct;74(4):896-902. doi:
10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.119.12937. Epub 2019 Aug 5. PubMed PMID: 31378100.

2: Abukar Y, Ramchandra R, Hood SG, McKinley MJ, Booth LC, Yao ST, May CN.
Increased cardiac sympathetic nerve activity in ovine heart failure is reduced by
lesion of the area postrema, but not lamina terminalis. Basic Res Cardiol. 2018
Aug 3;113(5):35. doi: 10.1007/s00395-018-0695-9. PubMed PMID: 30076468.

3: Ramchandra R, Hood SG, Xing D, Lambert GW, May CN. Mechanisms underlying the
increased cardiac norepinephrine spillover in heart failure. Am J Physiol Heart
Circ Physiol. 2018 Aug 1;315(2):H340-H347. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00069.2018. Epub
2018 Apr 27. PubMed PMID: 29701999.

4: Tromp TR, Mahesh D, Joles JA, Ramchandra R. Direct Recording of Cardiac and
Renal Sympathetic Nerve Activity Shows Differential Control in Renovascular
Hypertension. Hypertension. 2018 Jun;71(6):1108-1116. doi:
10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.117.10749. Epub 2018 Apr 23. PubMed PMID: 29686011.

5: Elstad M, O'Callaghan EL, Smith AJ, Ben-Tal A, Ramchandra R. Cardiorespiratory
interactions in humans and animals: rhythms for life. Am J Physiol Heart Circ
Physiol. 2018 Jul 1;315(1):H6-H17. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00701.2017. Epub 2018
Mar 9. Review. PubMed PMID: 29522373.
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