Personal profile

Research interests

The aim of our research group is:

To investigate mechanisms involved in the development of hypertension and transition to heart failure and so develop novel therapies to improve outcomes for patients.

The key questions that we are trying to address focus on the role the sympathetic nervous system in hypertension and heart failure:

  1. Why do young people develop high blood pressure?
    1. Role of carotid body to drive sympathetic activation
    2. Imaging to identify novel targets such as cerebral vascular anomalies
  2. What are the mechanisms contributing to drug resistant hypertension?
    1. Investigating novel molecules to block P2X3 receptors.
  3. Why do some people with high blood pressure go on to develop heart failure?
    1. Role of inflammation and fibrosis.
  4. How do cerebral vascular anomalies affect control of blood pressure?
    1. Young onset hypertension and following acute aortic dissection repair.
  5. What is the role of sympathetic activation in heart failure?
    1. Mechanisms including metaboreflex, chemoreflex, inflammation and fibrosis.
    2. Effects of iron deficiency
    3. Exercise training and cardiac rehabilitation
    4. Cardiac imaging with echo and MRI

Our clinical physiology lab is run by Dr Emma Hart at the Clinical Research Imaging Centre in Bristol.

The main techniques that are in use in our lab are:

  • Microneurography
    • This is a way of directly recording sympathetic nerve activity that is directed towards blood vessels supplying skeletal muscle
  • Autonomic function testing
    • Baroreflex sensitivity and heart rate variability
    • Carotid body chemoreflex testing
    • Muscle metaboreflex testing
  • Cardiopulmonary exercise testing
  • Echocardiography, including stress echo, to assess systolic and diastolic function

Our group has pioneered the mechanistic understanding of the role of carotid body in contributing to sympathetic activation in hypertension. We have translated the basic science work of Professor Julian Paton on carotid body dysfunction. In collaboration with groups in Poland and St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London we have demonstrated that carotid body modulation is a potential treatment option for resistant hypertension and heart failure.

Our group runs regular blood pressure awareness days in Bristol and businesses and in public spaces helping over 500 people to “Know their BP number”.

We have taken part in public engagement activities such as participating in Pint of Science.


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