Welcome to the Otago School of Medical Sciences
Conference in Israel
22 April 2013
A/P Dorothy Oorschot (Department of Anatomy) was among several OSMS staff who attended the 11th Triennial Conference of the International Basal Ganglia Society in Eliat, Israel, from 3-7 March 2013. A/P Oorschot presented collaborative research, funded by the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand, with Drs Rachel Sizemore and Louise Parr-Brownlie. The research mapped the synaptic innervation of dopaminergic neurons in the rat midbrain and observed that the pattern of innervation is strikingly different from other neurons in the brain. This difference is likely to be relevant to information processing in aversive non-rewarding situations during health and disease. The poster was very well received for its content and layout. A/P Oorschot was also one of three international judges for the poster presentations by early career scientists/students. The other judges were Dr Edward Stern (Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv, Israel) and Professor Marian DiFiglia (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA). Ms Justine Fuller (supervised by Professor Brian Hyland) of the Department of Physiology at the University of Otago deservedly won first prize for her poster titled 'Evidence that D2 autoreceptor inhibition modulates the action of methylphenidate'.
Autonomic dysfunction and surgical cardiovascular complications in diabetes
16 April 2013
Dr Regis Lamberts (Department of Physiology) was recently awarded $67,500 from Lotteries Health for a research project on cardiovascular complications in diabetes. More than 250,000 adults in New Zealand and 366 million adults worldwide have diabetes and these numbers are still growing. Patients with diabetes have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular complications during surgery; have a longer stay in the hospital and a poorer survival compared to patients without diabetes. The function of the heart and blood vessels to regulate blood pressure, which is controlled by the autonomic system, has changed in diabetes. During surgery, this dysregulation of blood pressure is challenged by the combination of surgical stress and anaesthesia. We propose that the imbalance of the autonomic regulation of blood pressure is responsible for the observed increased risk of developing cardiovascular complications during surgery in diabetes. In a diabetic model, we will use a newly developed combination of implanted radio-telemetry transmitters for in vivo blood pressure measurements with implanted vascular access ports for stress-free delivery of drugs to establish the autonomic regulation of blood pressure. With this method we can independently compare the effect of conscious, anaesthetised, surgical and surgical recovery conditions.
We expect that the autonomic regulation of blood pressure is impaired in diabetes, and will be exacerbated by anaesthetic and surgical stress. This Lottery Health Research funded project will thereby impact on understanding the pathological basis of autonomic dysregulation of blood pressure in diabetes, which is vital to understand why diabetic patients have a higher risk of cardiovascular complications during surgery. On the long term, it can identify therapeutic targets, and thereby eventually contribute to the improvement of the management of diabetic patients during surgery.
This project is in line with the goals of the overarching HeartOtago research platform (http://heart.otago.ac.nz). HeartOtago is comprised of cardiovascular researchers and clinicians located at the OSMS and Dunedin Hospital. The strong link between fundamental researchers and clinicians allows HeartOtago to expand upon traditional cell and animal models to better understand the molecular nature of cardiac disease in patients with heart disease with the aim to translate the laboratory based cardiovascular research into the clinical setting.
Faye, Ely and Lynn in the Butt Lab
15 April 2013
Faye Jeffers is working in Associate Professor Grant Butt’s lab on a 2-month project. This project is supported by the ‘Reinforce’ programme, which provides funding for UK and NZ PhD students and early career postdoctoral fellows to work on a project at a university in the other country.
Faye recently completed her PhD, “Investigating the interactions between gut bacteria Lactobacillus reuteri and mucus” at the Institute of Food Research through the University of East Anglia in the UK.
Faye started in the Butt lab 6 weeks ago and has created a perfusion chamber system (pictured). She is now conducting experiments with this system in order to compare mucus secretion in inflamed and non-inflamed tissue from IBD-models.
She is enjoying the laid-back lifestyle that Dunedin offers. When she goes back to the UK, Faye would ideally like to work part time in scientific research and part time for a charity.
Ely Rodrigues started working in the Butt lab 5 weeks ago as a Postdoctoral fellow and is also working closely with Associate Professor Michael Schultz. Ely has previously completed a PhD in the field of oral microbiology and has worked with Dr Andrew Bahn on MicrRNA expression for 2 years. She is now studying the role of microorganisms in IBD tissue and the way that these microorganisms change the physiology of the tissue. Ely focuses her research on the role of genes. Her aim is to find out if certain microorganisms can induce an IBD response. Together with Lynn Slobbe, an assistant research fellow, she is growing organoids from tissue samples. They receive these samples from Associate Professor Schultz’s patients who have undergone colonoscopies.
At this initial stage, Lynn and Ely are focusing on the establishment of organoid cultures and on achieving long-term growth.
Lynn has a background in immunology and has worked for different departments within the university, including the departments of Pathology, Biochemistry and Microbiology & Immunology. She is specialised in tissue cultures and started working in her current role just under 2 months ago.
We wish all three of them all the best with their innovative research projects.