Cardio-Renal Laboratory


Principle Investigator

Research Interests

The primary interest of our lab is neural control of cardiovascular function. The emphasis is on control of the cardiovascular system during both normal physiological situations as well as impaired control during disease. We have made exciting findings regarding the role of sympathetic nerve activity to the heart and kidney in hypertension and heart failure. Our current experiments are translational in nature examining new devices and treatment targets in cardiovascular disease.

Postgraduate projects are available for motivated students who are interested in cardiovascular neuroscience. The lab provides a stimulating environment where students are encouraged and challenged to answered important research questions. Projects offered range from basic physiology questions such as which parts of the brain control the heart to preclinical research targeting new treatment interventions for patients with cardiovascular disease.

Group Members

Principal Investigator

Dr Rohit Ramchandra

Rohit completed his PhD in Auckland and, wanting to explore central control of autonomic function further, went to Melbourne for a postdoctoral fellowship at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. During his time in Melbourne, he received further grant and fellowship funding and relocated back to Auckland in 2014. His research interests are integrative in nature and his publication record highlights the use of novel experimental techniques to test clinically relevant hypotheses.

Research Staff

Dr Julia Shanks

Julia completed her PhD at Oxford University and has previously investigated autonomic control of cardiac function. She is currently the senior postdoctoral fellow and her studies focus on the impact of re-introducing respiratory sinus arrhythmia on heart function.

Dr Si Yi (Robert) Chen

Robert completed his PhD at the University of Auckland and is currently investigating exercise intolerance in hypertensive disease using direct recordings of renal and hindlimb blood flow.

Ms Bindu George

Bindu joined the lab as a research technician in 2014 and since then has been an integral part of the lab.

Current Research Students

Past Research Students and Staff

Student Awards

  • Mridula Pachen – Research Recognition Award from the American Physiological Society 2021
  • Chris Sohn - Physiological Society of New Zealand Poster Prize at MedSci congress 2019
  • Sydney Vari – Mary Bullivant Prize in Physiology 2019
  • Joshua Chang – Mary Bullivant Prize in Physiology 2017
  • Dylan Pen - Physiological Society of New Zealand Poster Prize at MedSci congress 2017.
  • Joshua Chang - Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) oral presentation award


Current Funding

Health Research Council of NZ

National Heart Foundation of NZ


Previous Funding

Faculty Research Development Fund, University of Auckland

Lotteries NZ

Maurice and Phylis Paykel Trust


Selected Publications

  1. Frithiof, R., Xing, T., McKinley, M. J., May, C. N., & Ramchandra, R. (2014). Intracarotid hypertonic sodium chloride differentially modulates sympathetic nerve activity to the heart and kidney. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 306 (8), R567-R575. 10.1152/ajpregu.00460.2013
  2. May, C. N., Yao, S. T., Booth, L. C., & Ramchandra, R. (2013). Cardiac sympathoexcitation in heart failure. Auton Neurosci, 175 (1-2), 76-84. 10.1016/j.autneu.2012.10.017
  3. Ramchandra, R., Hood, S. G., Frithiof, R., McKinley, M. J., & May, C. N. (2013). The role of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus in the regulation of cardiac and renal sympathetic nerve activity in conscious normal and heart failure sheep. J Physiol, 591 (1), 93-107. 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.236059
  4. Ramchandra, R., Hood, S. G., Watson, A. M. D., Allen, A. M., & May, C. N. (2012). Central angiotensin type 1 receptor blockade decreases cardiac but not renal sympathetic nerve activity in heart failure. Hypertension, 59 (3), 634-641. 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.111.181131
  5. Ramchandra, R., Wan, L., Hood, S. G., Frithiof, R., Bellomo, R., & May, C. N. (2009). Septic shock induces distinct changes in sympathetic nerve activity to the heart and kidney in conscious sheep. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, 297 (5), R1247-R1253. 10.1152/ajpregu.00437.2009
  6. Ramchandra, R., Hood, S. G., Denton, D. A., Woods, R. L., McKinley, M. J., McAllen, R. M., & May, C. N. (2009). Basis for the preferential activation of cardiac sympathetic nerve activity in heart failure. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 106 (3), 924-928. 10.1073/pnas.0811929106


  • Professor Clive May, University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Associate Professor Maja Elstad, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Professor Jaap Joles, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Dr Alona Ben-Tal, Massey University, New Zealand
  • Various members of the Department of Physiology