How the brain coordinates delivery of oxygen to the tissues, excretion of waste carbon dioxide, and at the same time, maintains a nearly constant acid base balance in the face of environmental challenge is a question that remains of fundamental importance. Disorders of these physiological functions can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, asthma and many other diseases. Alongside cancer and mental illness, neuroscience, and the maintenance of blood pressure and breathing in particular, remains an unsolved mystery. Research in our laboratories aims to understand how nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other in order to maintain a normal circulatory system and respiratory system so that these challenges are met.
Specifically, we are currently investigating how the brain responds to low oxygen levels, how neurotransmitters that have long durations of action play a role in controlling respiratory and cardiovascular function, and how the breathing network is controlled. To achieve our goals, we use a wide variety of techniques including molecular biology, cell culture, electrophysiology, pharmacology and many other approaches.
Dr Steven Wise, Leader of the Applied Materials Group at HRI, has been awarded a prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Development Grant for his work inventing a sealant technology for valves used in heart surgery.