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Hege Larsen


Postgraduate Student

Research Summary

Research summary

Hege is a graduate student on the 4 year Wellcome Trust funded OXION D.Phil programme. She is working in the Paterson group in the department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics where she is investigating the neuronal control of cardiac excitability in hypertension. 

Hypertension is associated with increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system and cardiac beta adrenergic responsiveness. This autonomic phenotype is an early hallmark of the disease itself, though the mechanism causing it is poorly understood. The physiology and pharmacology of the individual ion channels and signalling molecules on the single neuron and myocyte as isolated systems are well described. However, relatively little is known about the cell-to-cell interaction that takes place, and how the neuron can act as a trigger for rhythm disturbances. Hege has, in collaboration with Dr Rebecca Burton and Dr Gil Bub, developed a novel co-culture preparation of neonatal ventricular myocytes and cardiac sympathetic stellate neurons. Using molecular biology and electrophysiological measurements she will use this co-culture preparation to study the direct and indirect communication between the myocyte and the neuron in health and disease. 

Hege was recently awarded the Pfizer Prize at Physiology2014 for her oral communication entitled "Enhanced neuronal calcium conductance in cardiac stellate neurons from young pro-hypertensive rats: a neuronal channelopathy?"

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Biography

Brief biography

Hege graduated from the University of Manchester with a BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology with industrial experience. During her time there she did her final year project with Dr Owen Jones looking at the structure/function relationship of the voltage gated Ca2+ channel. She was awarded the 'best overall achievement in physiology' prize following her final year. As part of her degree, Hege undertook an industrial placement year where she spent 12 months at the Mayo Clinic working in the Copland group. There she investigated the role of the TGFbeta receptors in renal cell carcinoma.

Following her undergraduate studies she is now pursuing her interest in membrane signalling, joining OXION - the ion channel and disease initiative. She is a member of St Catherine's College where she is a College Graduate Scholar in the sciences and a Junior Dean.

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