Dr Andrew Coney PhD

Dr Andrew Coney

Institute of Clinical Sciences
Lecturer in Physiology

Contact details

Address
Institute of Clinical Sciences
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

Andrew Coney is a Lecturer in Physiology with teaching responsibilities across many of the Institute of Clinical Sciences’ undergraduate programmes. He is also Co-Lead on a Postgraduate programme training students in integrative approaches. Andrew combines these student responsibilities with research interests in the area of cardio-respiratory integration and control and he is also affiliated to the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences. Principally, Andrew is an in vivo physiologist and his research has focussed on the range of responses to systemic hypoxia (acute, chronic and intermittent) at different times of life and how they modulate control mechanisms. Current research interests include areas such as, developmental programming of cardo-respiratory function, mechanisms underlying the cardiovascular and respiratory complications associated with chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH), obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and diabetes, however, all cardio-respiratory physiology.

Qualifications

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2016
  • Distinguished Fellow of the Teaching Academy, University of Birmingham, 2016
  • BSc (Hons) Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Southampton, 1993
  • PhD Cardiovascular Physiology, University of Birmingham, 1997

Biography

Andrew gained a BSc (2:1) in Physiology and Pharmacology, from the University of Southampton in 1993. He went on to study for a PhD funded by the British Heart Foundation in the Department of Physiology, University of Birmingham, researching into the mechanisms controlling cerebral blood flow during both acute and chronic hypoxia. As a Research Fellow, still funded by the British Heart Foundation, Andrew continued his research at the University of Birmingham into cardiovascular control mechanisms and the role of the sympathetic nervous system before taking an interest in developmental programming. During this time, Andrew also started to develop an interest in learning and teaching as he took on these responsibilities.

Andrew increased his teaching role over the years and also took on more education development and management responsibilities. In 2016, Andrew became a Senior Fellow of the HEA and was also invited to join the University of Birmingham Teaching Academy as a Distinguished Fellow.

Andrew’s current physiology research is centred around the control of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems at different points in the life course in response to stimuli such as gestational hypoxia or chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) and the co-morbidity links with diabetes.

Teaching

Andrew is interested in the development of teaching activities to enhance the student learning experience and actively engage them into understanding their subjects more deeply. Using evidence-based approaches to education, Andrew has Module Lead responsibilities and also delivers a variety of teaching session types across most of the College’s degree programmes including:

  • Biomedical Materials Science (BMedSc Biomaterials)
  • Biomedical Science (BSc)
  • Dentistry (BDS)
  • Graduate Entry Medicine (GEC)
  • Medicine (MBChB): Foundations in Medical Science and Practice 3 – module lead, F3 Cardiovascular – co-component lead.
  • Pharmacy (MPharm)

Andrew is also a Personal Tutor for students on the BSc Biomedical Science programme and usually offers laboratory-based research projects to these final year students as well as students on the MRes Biomedical Research Integrative and Translational programme that he co-leads.

Postgraduate supervision

Andrew currently supervises a PhD student who is investigating the effects of ageing on the control of cerebral blood flow. Previous PhD students have investigated areas of developmental programming such as the effects of chronic hypoxia in utero on muscle sympathetic nerve activity in the adult offspring.

Additionally, Andrew is one of the Programme Leads on the MRes Biomedical Research: Integrative & Translational course. This course has both taught and research components and Andrew usually supervises one of these students during their research project. These have included:

 Investigation into the murine electrophysiological cardiac responses to acute hypoxia and reoxygenation

  • The contribution of the carotid bodies and counter-regulatory hormones in glycaemic control: interaction during diabetes and intermittent hypoxia?
  • The interaction between chronic intermittent hypoxia and Western diet on cardio-respiratory function
  • Adaptations to chronic hypoxia important in muscle performance and fatigability
  • Effects of graded exercise on sympathetic vasoconstriction in normoxic and chronically hypoxic rats: a role for NO?
  • Adrenaline increases ventilation via a b-receptor and carotid body-mediated mechanism: a role in the hyperventilation of hypoglycaemia?

Research

Andrew has a longstanding research interest in how the cardiovascular system responds and adapts to changes in oxygen levels and his research takes an integrative systems physiology approach. This interest has opened up several avenues of research.

A major area of interest has centred on the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) and investigations into how cardiovascular and respiratory responses in the adult are programmed by low oxygen levels before birth. Previous work has centred on vascular control investigating endothelial dilator function and sympathetic vasoconstrictor activity and function. A current area of interest is the role of the placenta in signalling these effects to the developing fetus whilst future areas of interest will include programming of peripheral chemoreceptor function and its consequences.

In addition to the effects of developmental programming, Andrew also has a background into functional assessment of sympathetic vasoconstriction in skeletal muscle and how it is modulated by hypoxia in control animals – a balance to maintain tissue oxygen delivery and peripheral resistance. This has developed more recently into considering the pathological mechanisms involved in the responses to the chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH) seen in obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) patients. These patients also often suffer from diabetes and Andrew is also interested in the role of the peripheral chemoreceptors in mediating the whole body response to hypoglycaemia. Additionally, Andrew has also been collaborating on the potential effects of CIH in increasing the risk of atrial fibrillation.

Another strand of research has been collaboration with clinicians from Birmingham Women’s Hospital in developing an animal model of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a major cause of death in premature babies and our model is giving insights into the disease mechanism. 

Other activities

  • Member of The Physiological Society
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Distinguished Fellow of the Teaching Academy, University of Birmingham
  • Volunteer speaker for Understanding Animal Research

Publications

Thompson EL, Ray CJ, Holmes AP, Pye RL, Wyatt CN, Coney AM and Kumar P (2016) Adrenaline release evokes hyperpnoea and an increase in ventilatory CO2 sensitivity during hypoglycaemia: a role for the carotid body. J Physiol (2016) 594.15,4439-4452

[Above paper is featured in the Perspectives editorial O’Halloran K. Counter-regulatory control of homeostasis during hypoglycaemia – adrenaline hits the sweet spot in carotid body glucose sensing. J Physiol (2016) 594.15,4091-4092 and also the subject of a journal club article by Katayama PL.  Adrenaline and the carotid body during hypoglycaemia: an amplifying mechanism. J Physiol (2016) 594.24. 716107162].

Ray CJ, Dow B, Kumar P and Coney AM. (2015). Mild chronic intermittent hypoxia in Wistar rats evokes significant cardiovascular pathophysiology but no overt changes in carotid body-mediated respiratory responses. Adv Exp Med Biol 860, 245-254. Refereed conference proceedings.

Thompson E, Coney AM and Marshall JM (2015). The role of sympathetic innervation in cerebrovascular tone and autoregulation, and changes associated with ageing. Proc Physiol Soc 34

Coney AM and Ray CJ (2015). Integration of common concepts when teaching cardiovascular and respiratory physiology. Proc Physiol Soc 34

Thompson E, Coney AM and Marshall JM (2015). The vascular responses to cerebral parasympathetic stimulation, and changes associated with ageing. Proc Physiol Soc 34

Rook W, Johnson CD, Coney AM and Marshall JM (2014). Prenatal hypoxia leads to increased muscle sympathetic activity, sympathetic hyperinnervation, premature blunting of neuropeptide Y signalling, and hypertension in adult life. Hypertension 64:1321-1327.

Thompson EL, Coney AM, Marshall JM (2013). Assessing the upper limit of cerebral autoregulation in anaesthetised rats. Proc 37th IUPS

Coney AM, Wallice R and Ray CJ (2013). Functional sympatholysis (FS) in rats is graded with exercise but is not NO-mediated. Proc 37th IUPS

Cook RF, Coney AM and Ray CJ (2013). At matched oxygen delivery (DO2) chronically hypoxic male Wistar rats have increased skeletal muscle fatigue versus normoxic controls. Proc 37th IUPS

Coney AM and Marshall JM (2010). Effects of maternal hypoxia on muscle vasodilatation evoked by acute systemic hypoxia in adult rat offspring: changed roles of adenosine and A1 receptors. J.Physiol.  588.24, 5115-5125