Research interests

My PhD thesis began during my appointment as the first Research Physiologist at the British Olympic Medical Centre (now the Olympic Medical Institute) in collaboration with the Department of Biochemistry at Oxford University (c/o Professor EA Newsholme and LM Castell). As a former International sportsman (football and athletics), my thesis focused on the factors that limit systemic oxygen transport and subsequent implications for human exercise performance.

Shortly thereafter, I was appointed Senior Lecturer at the University of Glamorgan where I developed the Hypoxia Research Laboratory focusing on the source, mechanisms and consequences of free radical formation in hypoxia with a specific interest in O2 delivery and how this impacts the human cerebral circulation. This laboratory is equipped with an environmental chamber that can simulate the high-altitude environment and state-of-the-art molecular techniques that include electron paramagnetic (EPR) spectroscopy and ozone-based chemiluminescence for the detection of reactive oxygen-nitrogen species. This has provided a complementary laboratory-based arm to a variety of field-based research expeditions conducted at terrestrial high-altitude (http://www.adinstruments.com/news/091208/University-of-Glamorgan-Takes-Neurovascular-Research——PowerLab—to-New-Heights/research/).

Following promotion to Reader, I worked with Professors RS Richardson and PD Wagner (University of California San Diego) to examine the basic mechanisms associated with free radical formation in human skeletal muscle. Using state-of-the-art techniques for the direct detection of free radicals and MRS-based measurement of intracellular PO2 in hypoxia, we identified that free radical “release” across the contracting skeletal muscle bed is inversely related to intracellular oxygenation and not simply due to increased (mitochondrial) electron flux. Similar approaches have been applied to measure free radical exchange across the hypoxic (and indeed exercising) human brain and lung during research sabbaticals spent at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark (c/o Professors BK Pedersen, K Moller and NH Secher) and University of Heidelberg, Germany (c/o Professor P Bärtsch). These experiments have provided unique insight into the basic mechanisms responsible for the oxidative-nitrosative-inflammatory stress typically encountered by different patient groups characterised by arterial hypoxaemia.

I am currently a Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow and Professor of Physiology and Biochemistry at the University of South Wales where I am Head of the Neurovascular Research Laboratory. We are interested in how free radicals (for good or bad) impact upon the cerebral circulation across the spectrum of health and (mostly atherosclerotic) disease.

Experience

The Neurovascular Research laboratory houses state-of-the-art analytical techniques that range from the molecular to the morphological. We are interested in how exercise and hypoxia influence free radical-mediated vascular nitric oxide bioavailability (electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy and ozone chemiluminescence) and its impact on brain structure (diffusion-weighted MRI/MEG/EEG) and function (near infra-red spectroscopy, trans-cranial Doppler and Duplex ultrasonography). Several of these techniques have been acquired through externally-funded sabbaticals spent overseas and/or joint experimental collaborations that have facilitated long-standing published interactions with some of the most eminent specialists working within the oxygen transport, exercise and free radical biochemistry fields. This dynamic portfolio has allowed me to develop extensive research capabilities within a highly-established network and I have supervised 12 MPhil/PhD students with an additional 2 MPhil and 2 PhD students currently active. My current work is mentored by the pre-eminent Prof. JM McCord (University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, USA), twice nominated for the Nobel Prize for seminal contributions to free radical biology and medicine.

Below is a list of those collaborators considered “World-Leading” in their specialist fields:
Space medicine
Prof Hervé Normand, Normandie University, France.

Free radicals, inflammation and haemostasis
Profs S Pietri and M Culcasi, Équipe Sondes Moléculaires en Biologie et Stress Oxydant, Institut de Chimie
Radicalaire, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France
Profs P Bärtsch, H Mäirbaurl and M Muckenthaler, Dept of Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Germany
Profs J McCord, L Berliner, S Eaton and G Eaton, Dept of Medicine/Dept of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado Denver, USA
Profs PD Wagner, JB West and RS Richardson, Dept of Medicine, University of California San Diego, USA
Prof IS Young and J McEneny, Centre for Population and Health Sciences, Queen’s University, N.Ireland
Profs BK Pedersen, K Möller, C Lundby and NH Secher, Centre for Inflammation and Metabolism, The Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre and Dept of Anaesthesia, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Prof PA Evans, NISCHR Haemostasis Biomedical Research Unit, Morriston Hospital, Swansea, UK
Prof EA Newsholme and LM Castell, Dept of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, UK

Systemic vascular function
Profs C Sartori and U Scherrer, Dept of Internal Medicine and Botnar Center for Extreme Medicine, University
Hospital Lausanne, Switzerland in collaboration with the Bolivian Institute of High-Altitude Biology
Prof JH Halcox, Wales Heart Research Institute, Cardiff University
Prof RS Richardson, Depts of Medicine and Exercise and Sport Science, University of Utah and Geriatric Research,
Education and Clinical Center, Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Brain structure and function
Prof D Janigro, Dept of Cell Biology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, USA
Profs S Lehmann and N Marchi, Institute of Regenerative Medicine, University of Montpellier, France
Profs RG Wise, D Jones, K Graham and A Lawrence, Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, Cardiff University, UK
Prof S Ogoh, Dept of Biomedical Engineering, Toyo University, Japan
Prof A Rosser, Drs M Busse & L Quinn, School of Biosciences & Healthcare Sciences, Cardiff University
Prof PB Raven, Dept of Integrative Physiology, University of North Texas Health Science Center, USA
Prof RB Panerai, Dept of Medical Physics, University of Leicester, UK
Dr WN Colier, Dept of Geriatric Medicine, Radboud University, The Netherlands
Prof PN Ainslie, School of Health and Exercise Sciences, University of British Columbia, Canada
Prof CH Imray, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry, UK
Prof F Keleştemur, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Istanbul, Turkey
Prof Z Dujic, School of Medicine, University of Split, Split, Croatia
Profs B Cantu and A McKee, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Department of Neurology, Boston University, Massachusetts, USA

Vascular surgery
Prof A van Rij, Dept of Surgical Sciences, University of Otago, New Zealand
Profs MH Lewis, IW Williams, A Powell, W Lewis Depts of Surgery, Royal Glamorgan Hospital/ University Hospital of Wales, UK

Comparative physiology
Prof MA Fedak, Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews, UK (seal)
Prof P Friend, Dept of Surgery, University of Oxford, UK (pig)
Prof P Bie, Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark (giraffe)

Responsibilities

Current positions
Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow
Professor of Physiology and Biochemistry
Head of the Neurovascular Research Laboratory
REF Unit of Assessment Lead (C24)

These roles (outlined below) require regular interaction with the Dean, Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic and Pro-Vice Chancellor Research to whom I report directly for all research-related matters with input from the Vice Chancellor. I preside on various Senior Management Committees including the Research Institute Directors, Professoriate, Research Unit Leaders, Faculty Executive and Faculty Research and Innovation Committees (co-Chair) and regularly engage in senior research training events (eg. Research Leaders and Senior Strategic Leadership courses organised by the Leadership Foundation):

Professor of Physiology and Biochemistry/Head of the Neurovascular Research Laboratory: This position involves under/postgraduate lecturing (cellular/cardio/neurovascular/environmental physiology, metabolism and statistics) and leading the Neurovascular Research Laboratory that is currently home to numerous internationally-renowned Visiting Professors, 5 Senior Lecturers, 12 postgraduate students/postdoctoral scientists and laboratory technician.

Former (Acting) Associate Dean of Research (Faculty of Life Sciences and Education): Directly responsible for research management, performance, strategies, initiatives and innovation to 316 staff employed within the Faculty (across the spectrum of Early Career Researcher through to Full Professor). This role dovetails with my position as Research Institute Director.

Former Director of the Research Institute (Health & Wellbeing): Responsible for the selection, management and leadership of our highest performing academics to conduct research that is of the highest standard in terms of originality, significance and rigor. This role involves:
• Development and implementation of a University and Research Institute Vision, Mission, Strategy and Business Plan
• Development and implementation of aligned research themes that have the potential to be world-leading
• Enhancement of external research funding through grant income and commercial sources with a view to ensuring financial sustainability
• Optimisation of the University’s reputation in research including performance in any future assessment of research excellence
• Appraisal of members and setting of strategic targets

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