Vaughan Macefield (Chair)

Prof Vaughan Macefield is Head of the Human Autonomic Neurophysiology Lab at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne. In 1986 he completed his PhD in respiratory neurophysiology at The University of New South Wales, using animal models, before undertaking postdoctoral studies in human neurophysiology in Sydney, Sweden and the US. He was based at Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney from 1994, before being appointed Foundation Chair of Integrative Physiology at the School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, from 2006-2016, and Foundation Chair of Physiology at Mohammed Bin Rashid University in Dubai from 2016-2017. Much of his research involves direct recordings of sympathetic nerve activity in health and disease. He developed the following methodologies: (i) recording from single sympathetic axons in humans, (ii) combining microelectrode recordings of sympathetic nerve activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and (iii) microelectrode recordings from the human vagus nerve.

Simon McMullan (Treasurer)

Simon McMullan is an integrative physiologist and neuroscientist working at Macquarie University, Sydney. His group focuses on the neural mechanisms that generate baseline sympathetic nerve activity, integration between central respiratory and autonomic systems, and co-opting of these systems by higher centres in response to environmental stressors. He is also an Executive member of ISAN and Treasurer of the ISAN2022 meeting.

Pascal Carrive

Pascal Carrive is an Associate Professor in the School of medical Sciences at the University of New South Wales. He received his PhD in 1989 from the University of Sydney in Australia. His undergraduate studies were in France and the United Sates. He is the head of the Brain Blood Pressure and Stress laboratory at UNSW.  His research focuses on the central control of autonomic function, more specifically cardiovascular function, in relation to fear, stress and arousal. His most recent work has been on the hypothalamic neuropeptide orexin. He also teaches neuroanatomy and is a co-author with Prof George Paxinos on of the Chemoarchitectonic Atlas of the Rat Brain, the most detailed atlas of the rat brain, now in its 3rd edition.

Natasha Kumar

My research interests include study of the cellular and physiological mechanisms used by autonomic systems. Autonomic reflexes require signalling from the brain, and their function is continually regulated by genetic and environmental factors. Pathological regulation can form the basis for disease (respiratory disorders, hypertension, diabetes). Research questions include: how do homeostatic systems – which are vital for survival – adapt to changing environmental conditions? What are the consequences to neuronal excitability, physiological processes, and drug action? What are the mechanisms by which our respiratory system adapts to changes in blood pH? Members of my lab investigate the brain circuits involved in central chemoreception, and the potential for drugs that activate pH sensing neurons to help those afflicted by respiratory disorders, such as sleep apnea, COPD, apnea of prematurity. This research is also of broader significance because most organisms utilise pH/CO2 detection for survival, however the sensory mechanisms are not clear.


Kulmira Nurgali

Professor Kulmira Nurgali (PhD 2004, Melbourne University) is a research and teaching academic at the College of Health and Biomedicine, Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Australia and an Honorary Associate Professor at the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Australia. She is the Head of Enteric Neuropathy Laboratory at the Centre for Health, Research and Education, Sunshine Hospital and Director of the Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Program at the Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science. She has an internationally-recognised prominence in the fields of Enteric Neuroscience and Neurogastroenterology.  Prof Nurgali’s research is focused on enteric neuropathy associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, colorectal cancer, and the side effects of chemotherapy. Being a medical graduate, she focuses on the development of novel treatments and pre-clinical studies that have translational value.

Andrew Allen

Dr Andrew Allen is a Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Melbourne, Australia.  Andrew teaches core neuroscience subjects for undergraduate students studying Science and Biomedical Science degrees. Andrew’s research focusses on understanding the role of the brain in the development and maintenance of high blood pressure, concentrating on pathways regulating the autonomic nervous system. His laboratory utilises multiple integrative techniques, and over the past 10 years has obtained extensive expertise in the use of replication-deficient viruses for region- and cell-selective transduction of neurons in the mammalian CNS. These approaches have enabled cell-selective expression of native and modified g-protein coupled receptors, such as the type 1 angiotensin receptor, and opto- and chemo- genetic molecules to modulate neuronal activity. More recently he developed a novel chemogenetic approach that enables understanding of neural circuits.

Melissa Farnham

Dr Melissa Farnham heads the Cardiovascular Neuroscience Group at the Heart Research Institute. Her research centres around the central mechanisms responsible for the cardiometabolic consequences of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). She has a specific interest in neuropeptide signalling within autonomic neural circuits.