May, 2005



A new feature starting in our newletter this month will be to have Feature Articles from hypertension research scientists and clinicians from research centres, hospitals and Universities around Australia. The idea is to promote an understanding of the various organisations that contribute to blood pressure research. The first feature article this month is from the Hypertension Research Groups at Sydney University Department of Physiology (see section below).  If you would like to contribute to this section please send your suggestions to me.


Hypertension news: We will be initiating a “news section of the newsletter in coming months. If you have recently published or you are particularly aware of a major paper or recent study, you could write a brief summary of the major findings.


The Annual Scientific Meeting is really taking shape with the program well in hand. (see Jaye’s Section). The executive has been busy on a number of fronts with the establishment of links to a number of like minded societies (see Kate’s section).


While we featured the ASMR campaign last month, I would still like to remind members who haven’t written letters and emails or visited their local member to do so. Now is a good time as this years budget announcements are over. For more details see below





PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE from Stephen Harrap


One of the goals this year is to boost our membership of students. They are our future and as a Council we should do our best to encourage their involvement for our mutual benefit. To that end Brian Morris has taken on responsibility as Student Liaison and we shall be inviting a student to join our Executive as a co-opted member.


There are many benefits for students. Apart from the opportunity to present and interact with other investigators, the Council offers discounts for meeting participation and support for attendance. The travel support from the High Blood Research Foundation to ISH and other international meetings is especially valuable in this regard. We also have our student awards for best poster and oral presentation at our Annual Scientific Meeting.


We are looking forward to introducing a marvellous new initiative for students that will also help build our links with like societies. I had very useful discussions with Neil Poulter, President of the British Hypertension Society about the possibility of reciprocal exchange of each society's top student. The idea (to be discussed by the Executive soon) is that our top student would be supported to attend the BHS meeting and visit relevant laboratories in the UK. The top BHS would attend our meeting and visit our cognate labs. Kate Denton (Societies' Liaison) will be working on these plans.


In addition, we'd like to facilitate the social (and professional) interaction between our students by helping to organise a special get-together - perhaps a dinner on the Wednesday night before the annual scientific meeting. Brian and our student rep will be putting their heads together on these ideas and no doubt will keep us updated through E-News.


The bottom line is that we should all encourage our students to join the HBPRCA. So look around and ask. Someone might thank you one day for pointing them in the right direction!





MEETING NEWS from Jaye Chin Dusting




We are very close to having the venue finalised and will make the announcement in next months issue.  We are also delighted to confirm that this year's Annual Scientific Meeting Dinner Festivities, in celebration of the Foundation's 10th year Anniversary, will be held at the Melbourne Museum, catered by arguably Melbourne's best, Peter Rowland. 


We have jam-packed the Scientific Program with all sorts of goodies including a session dedicated to the Foundation Fellows (i.e. those post-docs funded by the Foundation over the last 10 years).  This promises to be an enlightening session with speakers from the scientific, clinical and public health milieu, amongst whom are some of the nation's best.  A new initiative I would like to introduce this year are Moderated Poster sessions (a la the American Heart Association) to provide well-deserved focus on these sessions.  So, my friends and colleagues, if it is not already in your diary - do rectify, as this year's Annual Scientific meeting promises to be a blast!


Click here for information about other scientific meetings of interest.





MEMBERSHIP NEWS from Doug McKitrick


Membership information for 2005 will be finalised shortly and as  a result the helpful email reminders for those of you who haven’t renewed your subscription will cease. Of course your ability to renew will not cease and may still be done by mail, fax or internet. If you have internet access go to the HBPRCA website and follow the link for access to the secure payment site, or to download a form for return by fax or post. If you don’t have internet access, can’t remember if you have paid, or just need a bit of help, contact the Secretariat by phone, fax or post (details below). If you have specific comments or concerns with your membership, or issues affecting membership generally, accept the invitation to communicate them directly to the Membership Secretary, Dr Doug McKitrick, via contact details available on the HBPRCA website. And now that you are fully convinced of the brilliance and commitment of your graduate students and post-docs, share them with us by encouraging them to take advantage of HBPRCA membership.







Hypertension Research at Sydney University


The University of Sydney is a fitting start for a series of articles about Hypertension Research in Australia. The Department of Physiology founded around 1890 has had a long history of research into cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Notably Past HBPRCA President, Professor Paul Korner graduated from The University of Sydney in Science and Medicine in the early 1950s, and obtained his clinical training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. He spent further periods in the Department of Physiology before moving to Melbourne in 1975 to head the Baker Institute. More recently, he has returned to Sydney and has been writing a major work on hypertension entitled “The Neurogenic Basis of Essential Hypertension” which is in the very final stages with the publisher. Professor John Chalmers, also a past president of the society, who is now the Senior Director of  “The George Institute” and the director of the newly established “The George Foundation for International Health” is also a graduate of The University of Sydney and established the Hypertension Research Group there in 1996. John’s contributions to hypertension with both basic and clinical studies are too many to list but his studies in central autonomic pathways and neurotransmitters regulating the sympathetic nervous system stand out in the field.  His recent work with the PROGRESS” study is well known to hypertension researchers world wide. Today hypertension research in The University of Sydney is a major feature of a number of Laboratories, all of which are part of the Discipline of Physiology and the Institute for Biomedical Research.


The Cardiovascular Neuroscience laboratory, headed by Professor Roger Dampney, investigates the control of blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity by the brain, both under normal conditions and under abnormal conditions such as high blood pressure.  The Laboratory has a particular interest in the role of angiotensin II, as well as other hormones such as leptin and aldosterone, all of which can act directly on brain neurons to cause increased sympathetic activity and other changes leading to high blood pressure.  There is good evidence that the levels of brain angiotensin II are increased in certain types of high blood pressure as well as heart failure.  Similarly, the levels of the hormone leptin, which is released from fat tissue, are increased in obesity, and this leads to increased sympathetic activity, which could be a major factor causing obesity-related hypertension. A noted visiting hypertension researcher Dr Virginia Brooks, from the Oregon Health & Science University in the United States is currently based in The Department of Physiology at The University if Sydney with the support of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission.  She has been studying the role of osmolarity sensors in regulating fluid balance, salt sensitivity and the level of blood pressure.  Her recent publication in CEPP highlights her studies in the area and explains her teaming up with “brain expert” Roger Dampney.  She proposes that increased salt intake causes salt retention and raises plasma sodium concentrations, which activate sodium/osmoreceptors to trigger sympathoexcitation. Often the increase in osmolality is not detectable but can drive significant sympathoexcitation, because salt-sensitive individuals exhibit increased sensitivity to the sympathoexcitatory effects of increased osmolality.  While her visit is now nearly complete, she has summarized her experience as follows: “My seven months in Australia have been extremely stimulating and enriching.  I’ve especially enjoyed the opportunity to interact with Roger and his lab on an almost daily basis, which has allowed me to greatly expand my knowledge of the brain and its regulation of the sympathetic nervous system. I’ve been particularly impressed with the breadth of and comradery within the Australian Neuroscience community.  A highlight of my stay has been the new and stronger connections I’ve been able make with colleagues not only here in Sydney, but also in Adelaide and Melbourne.  In fact my visit to Melbourne was prompted by a fantastic one day symposium, organized by Dmitry Mayorov and Geoff Head, at which those of us in Australia and New Zealand informally exchanged our newest ideas about mechanisms underlying neurogenic hypertension. (It also gave me the chance to attend an Australian Rules Football game at the MCG!). I thank my Aussie friends, new and old, for making my stay so memorable.”


The Hypertension & Stroke Research Laboratories (HSRL) are based at the Royal North Shore Hospital (Dept of Neurosurgery) in Sydney and are a part of the Discipline of Physiology at the University of Sydney. The HSRL is run by Dr Paul M. Pilowsky (Head of HSRL, NHMRC PRF, A/Prof in Physiology and Pharmacology) and Dr Ann K. Goodchild (Senior Lecturer in Physiology and High Blood Pressure Research Foundation Fellow). The group is interested in all aspects of how the brainstem and spinal cord organize the intake and distribution of oxygen into the body and tissues, and the removal of carbon dioxide: the ABC of medicine - airways, breathing and circulation. To investigate these phenomena in health and disease, the HSRL have established a facility in which many areas can be investigated from the molecular to the clinical level (from the nucleotide to the bedside), where we study changes in gene expression following physiological or pathophysiological stimuli including hypertension, haemorrhage and renovascular hypertension.

In our pharmacological and physiological studies we investigate the effects of changing neurotransmitter pathways in the brainstem on the reflex control of the cardiovascular system. For example we recently demonstrated that mu opioid agonists in the rostral ventrolateral medulla of the brainstem attenuate the arterial sympathetic baroreflex but not the somatosympathetic reflex whilst delta opioid agonists have the reverse action having no effect on the baroreceptors, but attenuating the somatosympathetic reflex. We also have a very active molecular group that examines gene expression using analysis of mRNA using real-time PCR, and by in situ hybridization combined with immunocytochemistry. We now have a facility for radiotelemetry in conscious rats permitting continuous recording of blood pressure temperature, ECG and activity. At the clinical level we are investigating patients in the intensive care unit who have arterial catheters and whose ECG is continuously monitored. The data is collected and analysed for heart rate variability and baroreflex sensitivity using the sequence method.

Running parallel to these investigations into the central control of the cardiovascular system is studies on cardio respiratory integration and studies into respiratory rhythm generation and respiratory motor control. It is the view of our Laboratory that these two systems are so inextricably linked that they cannot really be considered as separate homeostatic systems. Since the group was established in 1996 when Dr Pilowsky, Dr QJ Sun and Prof. JP Chalmers moved to Sydney from Adelaide the team has grown significantly and now comprises about 17 people including 6 senior people, 5 postgraduate students, 1 post doctoral fellow and 3 honours students as well as a research assistant and an administrative assistant. The group has won several honours and awards, and our work has resulted in the publication of one major specialist book (PM Pilowsky, 2004, Serotonin neurons in the brainstem and spinal cord: diverse projections and multiple functions in ‘Neural Mechanisms of Cardiovascular Regulation:’ Dun NJ, Machado BH & Pilowsky PM eds, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, Dordrecht and London.) 56 full papers and 4 commentaries in peer reviewed journals since 1996.


The Basic & Clinical Genomics Laboratory, headed by Professor Brian Morris, has had a long standing interest in hypertension research.  Their work on the regulation of renin gene expression at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level is unravelling the complex genetic control  mechanisms that regulate this important enzyme. Projects that the Laboratory is currently conducting include (i) Whether a strong far-upstream enhancer controls on/off switching of the renin gene. (i) The identification and mechanism of action of proteins that bind to the 3'-UTR of human renin mRNA to control stability. (ii) Characterization of several proteins that the Lab has found control alternative splicing of pre-mRNA and (iv) changes in gene expression in human cells as they age and in response to agents that increase lifespan of other species. The Lab published the first ever study on the molecular genetics of hypertension (in 1988), which was followed by numerous papers on this topic. Recent research highlights include completion of a genome scan to find loci for essential hypertension (June 2005 issue of Am J Hypertens), a project that began in 1992. Another long-running project that is near completion involves a study of the role of a far-upstream enhancer in control of the renin promoter in a variegated manner. Fluorescence activated cell sorting and immunohistochemistry experiments are supporting this hypothesis. Geoff Head and Jay Chin-Dusting at the Baker have provided physiological support on enhancer knock-out mice. The Lab also identified several proteins that bind to the 3'-UTR of human renin mRNA and showed how cyclic AMP modulates their effect on stability of this mRNA (J Biol Chem 2003). Prof Morris has an extensive review coming out in a forthcoming issue of J Hypertens on the molecular basis of longevity.


The David Read Laboratory at The University of Sydney, headed by Professor Colin Sullivan (also the director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Medical Technology on Obstructive Sleep Apnoea at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) has made a major contribution to the problem of sleep apnea induced hypertension. Professor Sullivan pioneered nasal CPAP as an effective treatment for sleep apnoea syndrome and has over 90 scientific publications in the area. Notably, in the field of hypertension research, the work of his team has been instrumental in showing the effectiveness of this treatment for reducing blood pressure in sleep apnea in patients (see Wilcock et al 1998).


The Muscle Cell Function Laboratory, headed by  Professor David Allen, is concerned with the regulation of intracellular ions, particularly calcium, sodium and protons, and with their effects on muscle function.  The Laboratory is particularly interested in situations where ionic regulation has major effects on cell function, for instance in cardiac pacemaker cells, in the heart during ischaemia and reperfusion and in skeletal muscle during fatigue.  Much of the focus is on single cells in which ionic concentrations can be measured using fluorescent methods and the distribution of ionic changes can be studied using confocal microscopy. Professor Allen developed the first method for measuring intracellular calcium in cardiac muscle using the luminescent protein aequorin. Current research involves studies on Pacemaker cells where the Laboratory is examining the mechanisms which control the firing rate of pacemaker cells and have discovered that the Na/Ca exchanger acts as a pacemaker current. Ionic regulation in the heart during ischaemia and reperfusion is another focus where hearts which are reperfused after ischaemia become loaded with calcium and this contributes to cell damage.  The main mechanism involved is the coupled activation of the Na/H exchanger and the Na/Ca exchanger stimulated by the proton accumulation during ischaemia (Park et al. 1999).  The Laboratory is also studying the regulation of the Na/H exchanger during ischaemia and reperfusion.  Langendorff-perfused rat hearts are loaded with fluorescent indicators for sodium or protons (Xiao & Allen, 1999).  These ideas are of increasing clinical interest because patients with heart attacks often have their ischaemic myocardium reperfused, so it is important to prevent the ionic changes which can occur as these trigger some of the cardiac damage. Using a confocal microscope, Professor Allen’s group have examined calcium sparks in the heart during acidosis and ischaemia. These sparks give information about the state of calcium release sites and calcium stores in the heart.  During acidosis and ischaemia, arrhythmias are more common and seem to be related to changes in calcium handling which can be studied by observing the frequency and magnitude of the calcium sparks (Balnave & Vaughan-Jones, 2000).  





Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology (CEPP) is available Free to HBPRCA members

CEPP aims to make a substantial contribution to effective and productive communication between scientists throughout the world who are working in these interrelated disciplines. The journal provides a medium for the rapid publication of original research papers, short communications, rapid communications and theoretical articles (hypotheses) on the results of clinical and experimental work in pharmacology and physiology. Invited review articles are published occasionally.


To access the journal online visit and log in or register if you are a new user. Once you are logged in follow the three simple steps below:

       Click on the blue ‘My Synergy’ tab and the top of the screen and then click the blue ‘Access’ tab in the middle of the screen.

1.       Enter CEPHBPTRIAL2005 in the ‘Access Token’ box exactly as it appears here. You will only need to enter this code the first time you use Blackwell Synergy

2.       Now click ‘Continue’


You will have access to all content in CEPP every time you log in until 31st of December 2005.


Manuscripts can be submitted to CEPP via






Monash University are still running workshops in microscopy techniques.   If you are interested in attending anything mentioned above, find out more by contacting the organisers or downloading a copy of the brochure.







ASMR needs your help during 2005, to ensure that medical research in our country remains competitive and translates to better health and economic outcomes for all Australians. You need to act now:

¨       Visit your local member twice in 2005.  Once before June and again before October.

¨       Before September, write to: your local member; the Health Minister; the Treasurer; the Prime Minister


Points of focus: (use examples from your field) Medical research is vital to Australia’s future, it,

®    underpins the health of all Australians

®    delivers exceptional returns on investment

®    creates knowledge-based jobs


Please click here to view information on the ASMR Campaign to increase Health and Medical Research Funding.



Special Screening of the classic 1966 film, FANTASTIC VOYAGE, Starring Racquel Welsh & Stephen Boyd, Movie is followed by a panel discussion on how research is bringing the Fantastic Voyage closer to medical reality! Please click here to download a copy of the registration form for this event.




With best wishes,



A/Professor Geoffrey A. Head

HBPRCA Secretary





HBPRCA Secretariat

Meetings First

t           61 3 9739 7697

f           61 3 9739 7076








4th Asia-Pacific Congress of Hypertension June 2005

In conjunction with the 14th Annual meeting of the Korean Society of Hypertension

Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel, Seoul, KOREA

Wednesday, June 1 – Friday, June 4, 2005

Click here for meeting website

Click here for Korean Society of Hypertension website


European Society of Hypertension
15th European Meeting on Hypertension

Fiera Milano Congressi Center - Milan, ITALY

June 17-21, 2005

Click here for meeting website

Click here for European Society of Hypertension website



3rd World Congress of Nephrology on Hypertension And The Kidney

July 1-3, 2005

Esplanade Convention Centre – Perth, AUSTRALIA

Click here for meeting website




International Society on Hypertension in Blacks


20th Annual Meeting

Caribe Hilton Hotel

Friday, July 15 - Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Click here for meeting website

Click here for International Society of Blacks website

Joint International Meeting of The Physiological Society & FEPS

Bristol University, Glasgow, SCOTLAND

Wednesday, July 20 – Saturday, July 23, 2005

Click here for meeting website

Click here for the Physiological Society website

Click here for the Federation of European Physiological Societies website


International Society on Thrombosis & Haemostasis

Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Saturday, August 6 – Friday, August 12, 2005

Click here for meeting website

Click here for society website


European Society of Cardiology

Annual Scientific Meeting

Stockholmsmässan, Stockholm, SWEDEN

Saturday, September 3 – Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Click here for the meeting website

Click here for the society website

International Society of Hypertension

21st Scientific Meeting

Saturday, October 15 – Wednesday, October 19, 2006

Fukuoka International Congress Centre – Fukuoka, JAPAN

Click here for meeting website

Click here for International Society of hypertension web page


Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Annual Scientific Meeting

Quebec, CANADA

Saturday, October 22 – Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Click here for meeting website

Click here for society website


Asian Pacific Society of Nuclear Cardiology
Annual Scientific Meeting

Annual scientific meeting

Mumbai, INDIA

Thursday, December 1 – Sunday, December 4, 2005

Click here for meeting website

Click here for Asian Pacific Society of Nuclear Cardiology website

International Conference on Healthy Ageing and Longevity

3rd Annual Meeting

Friday, April 28 – Sunday, April 30, 2006

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre – Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Click here for meeting website