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Dr Robert Huckstepp

Associate Professor

Email: R.Huckstepp@warwick.ac.uk 

Phone: 024 765 75097

Office: IBRB1.12

Linkedin 

ResearchGate


Research Clusters

Neuroscience (Co-lead of cluster)


Administrative roles

Director of Postdoctoral Affairs

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Research Strategy Committee member


Memberships

Royal Society of Biology

Sigma Xi

ARUK west midlands consortium

Faculty member of F1000.


Vacancies and Opportunities

For interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Unfortunately due to the limited bursaries available on the doctoral training programmes, I am unable to take on any PhD students at this current time.

Research Interests

My research interests mainly focus on respiratory and cardiovascular neurobiology. Cardiorespiratory control is essential for life from before birth all the way through, except for the briefest of pauses, to death. The neural networks that control cardiorespiratory activity form a dynamic microcircuit that must continually monitor and adapt to a set of ever-changing vital parameters (such as blood gas and pH levels) to maintain homeostasis. This cardiorespiratory microcircuit therefore has many components, and is subject to numerous internal, external and sensory control mechanisms.

My research primarily focuses on the role of neurones and glia in the control of breathing, and how different groups of neurones within the respiratory network interact with one another to generate and pattern respiratory output. I have recently developing a model of sleep apnoea, to study the link between sleep disordered breathing and it's comorbidities.

I have collaborations: utilizing Inscopix microscopy to study the respiratory network; developing an algorithm to find apnoeas in respiratory recordings; studying biocompatibility of new compounds; investigating the effects of novel purinergic agonists/antagonists on cardiorespiratory physiology; identifying the role of tanycytes in feeding; and investigating the role of PKG1α in food reward.

I am the director of Post-doctoral affairs Director, Postdoctoral Affairs, co-lead the neuroscience cluster, and I sit on the JEDI committee. I am a member of the Royal Society of Biology, Sigma Xi, and the Alzheimer's research UK west midlands consortium, and I am a faculty member of F100.

Research: Technical Summary

My main focus is on the neural networks that control the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. I was instrumental in creating a new in vitro preparation for studying chemoreception. Using purinergic biosensors, patch clamp, immunocytochemistry, and in vivo techniques I helped to identify a new mechanism of ATP release (2 manuscripts: J. Physiol 2010). This work identified a new stimulus for protein gating, CO2, and a new chemosensor, Cx26, which is only found in glial cells in adult rat brain. In a later collaboration, we discovered that the source of this ATP was later identified to be serotonergic parapyramidal neurons in the caudal medulla (Commun Biol. 2020). We also identified a CO2-sensitive inwardly rectifying potassium channel (Pflugers Arch 2011).

Using stereotaxic injections of AAVs/drugs, into the brainstem of rats, I established a new technique of simultaneous viral transduction of multiple respiratory nuclei to functionally dissected the microcircuit for breathing, including the pFV, pFL and preBötC (J. Neurosci 2015; eLife 2016; PLoSONE 2018). Using a new in vivo model, I was vital in developing, I studied the contribution of the RTN/C1 region in cardiovascular and respiratory neurobiology during exercise (Sci. Rep 2018). I designed a new method for implanting inscopix technology to image respiratory neurons from the RTN, pFL, and Raphe in the medulla (preprint available).

I have recently developed the new model of sleep apnoea, which he characterised with plethysmography, EEG/EMG recordings, ELISA, Behavioural tests, electrophysiology (LTP) and immunohistochemistry (Front Aging Neurosci 2022).

Collaborations:

Feeding behaviour: I have been involved in 2 projects related to feeding. 1) investigating the role of tanycytes lining the third ventricle in feeding behaviour, and 2) the role of PKG1α in food reward and food seeking (Redox Biol 2019).

Statistics: I provided physiologically recorded data and expertise that helped to develop 2 algorithms for automated detection of apnoeas (JASA 2019, Ann Appl Stat. 2021).

Chemistry: I have worked on several papers identifying and characterising novel biocompatible compounds (Nat Commun 2020, 2021)

Learning and memory: I set up a biosensor recording rig and provided analytical expertise on a project studying the role of astrocytes in Long Term Potentiation (LTP) (J. Neurosci 2013).

Drug Discovery: I am part of team that has tested a non-opioid analgesic, that acts through adenosine A 1 receptor without causing cardiorespiratory depression (Nature Commun 2022)

Viral vectors: I currently collaborate with the UKE vector core to create new tools for Neuroscience research (Front Aging Neurosci 2022).

Image of a Neuron

Publications

For a full list of publications, see WRAP

Biography

  • 2016-2022 Associate Professor University of Warwick
  • 2016-2020 Assistant Professor University of Warwick
  • 2016-2019 Honorary Scientific Associate UCL
  • 2014-2016 PostDoctoral position UCL
  • 2011-2014 PostDoctoral position UCLA
  • 2009-2011 PostDoctoral position Yale/University of Iowa
  • 2005-2009 PhD in Biology from Warwick University
  • 2000-2003 BSc (hons) in Biomedical Sciences from Durham University