The University of Sydney > Physiology > Allen lab 



Professor David Allen trained in Physiology and Medicine at University College in London.  His PhD was on the contractility of cardiac muscle with Brian Jewell (1972-75).  He spent two years with John Blinks at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota where he made the first ever measurements of intracellular calcium in the heart (1976-77).  These studies established that changes in the intracellular Ca2+ were the principal means for regulating cardiac contractility.  On return London he used these new methods to study how drugs, muscle length, pH, hypoxia and ischaemia affected cardiac function. In 1989 he was appointed to  the Chair of

Physiology at the University of Sydney.  Håkan Westerblad from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden joined him there as a postdoctoral fellow (1990-1991) and together they developed the single isolated mouse muscle fibre as a model for studying muscle fatigue. An influential finding was that lactic acid was not the cause of muscle fatigue, instead Ca2+ transients failed after a few minutes causing reduced force by mechanisms which are still the focus of research.  When Yue-kun Ju joined his lab they started to study the pacemaker mechanism and showed that changes in calcium release contributed to these mechanisms.  In recent years, with Chris Balnave, Ella Yeung and Nicholas Whitehead, muscle damage caused by stretch and muscular dystrophy have become a new focus of interest.  A key finding was that a stretch-activated channel is a major source of Ca2+  influx and, if blocked, the muscle pathology of muscular dystrophy is substantially improved.  A current focus is to understand how these mechanosensitive Ca2+ channels are activated and why absence of dystrophin leads to the range of pathologies observed in dystrophic muscle.



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