Dr Keith Brain PhD, MB/BS, FBPhS

Dr Keith Brain

School of Biomedical Sciences
Associate Professor
Head of Intercalation, MDS

Contact details

Institute of Clinical Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Brain is the Head of Intercalation for the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, Head of Assessments (MBChB) and the deputy lead for Years 1 and 2 of the MBChB programme.


  • Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society, 2015
  • MA, University of Oxford, 2002
  • MB/BS(Hons), University of Sydney, 2000
  • PhD, Physiology, University of Sydney, 1999
  • BSc(Med)(Hons), University of Sydney, 1995
  • BSc, Physics and Pure Mathematics, University of Sydney, 1995


Dr Brain graduated with a PhD in Physiology in 1998 and in Medicine in 1999 from the University of Sydney, Australia. After working as a medical officer at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney he joined the Department of Pharmacology, Oxford, in 2001.

While in Oxford, Dr Brain held a series of research fellowships, including a Nuffield Medical Fellowship, Wellcome Trust Career Development Research Fellowship (both based in the Department of Pharmacology), Staines Medical Research Fellowship (Exeter College) and the post of Research Fellow and Tutor (Keble College). In 2009 he moved to the post of Senior Lecturer (Neuropharmacology) at the University of Birmingham. His field of research is Autonomic Neuroscience (he is the International Secretary for the International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience), is the Head of Intercalation for the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, and the deputy lead for Years 1 and 2 of the MBChB programme. He also teaches in the fields of Pharmacology and Renal physiology.


  • MBChB Medicine and Surgery
    • Foundations of Medical Science 1
    • Foundations of Medical Science 2
    • Foundations of Medical Science 3

  •  Biomedical Science BSc 
    • Digestion and Renal Science
    • Fundamentals of Neuroscience & Pharmacology
    • Integrative Physiology and Pharmacology
    • Neuroscience 2
    • Student Selected Project
    • Molecular and Integrative Pharmacology
    • Neuropharmacology

  • Dental Surgery BDS
    • Introduction to Biomedical Science
    • Neuromuscular Systems

  • MPharm Pharmacy (4-year)
    • Health Disease and Therapeutics 1.1

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Brain is happy to discuss PhD proposals in autonomic physiology, autonomic pharmacology and urogenital pathophysiology.


Research interests
Dr Brain’s laboratory aims to understand autonomic junctional transmission from fundamental principles through to therapeutic interventions

Current projects
• The effect of cannabinoids on sympathetic transmission
• The role of parasympathetic transmission in bladder overactivity (with R. Manchanda, IIT, Mumbai)
• Developing new optical and MRI-sensitive probes for sympathetic failure (with S. Muzerengi)

Other activities


  • International Secretary, International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience.
  • External examiner: Newcastle MB/BS (2nd year medicine)
  • Co-Principle Investigator, Birmingham CRUK Centre Clinical Academic Training Programme
  • GMC registration: 6061635
  • Wikipedia Master Editor


  • Editor, British Journal of Pharmacology
External programme examinerships at King’s College London (Pharmacology), University of Dundee (Pharmacology) and University of Cardiff (Pharmacology for Pharmacy)


Recent publications


Appukuttan, S, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2021, 'Effect of variations in gap junctional coupling on the frequency of oscillatory action potentials in a smooth muscle syncytium', Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 12, 655225. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.655225

Cao, L, Marshall, J, Fabritz, L & Brain, K 2021, 'Resting cardiac sympathetic firing frequencies suppress terminal norepinephrine transporter uptake', Autonomic Neuroscience, vol. 232, 102794. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autneu.2021.102794

Alzahrani, AA, Cao, LL, Aldossary, HS, Nathanael, D, Fu, J, Ray, CJ, Brain, KL, Kumar, P, Coney, AM & Holmes, AP 2021, 'β-Adrenoceptor blockade prevents carotid body hyperactivity and elevated vascular sympathetic nerve density induced by chronic intermittent hypoxia', Pfluegers Archiv: European journal of physiology , vol. 473, no. 1, pp. 37-51. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00424-020-02492-0

Cao, L, Holmes, A, Marshall, J, Fabritz, L & Brain, K 2020, 'Dynamic monitoring of single-terminal norepinephrine transporter rate in the rodent cardiovascular system: a novel fluorescence imaging method', Autonomic Neuroscience, vol. 223, 102611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autneu.2019.102611

Padmakumar, M, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2019, 'Analysis of spontaneous depolarization-linked hyperpolarizations in mouse detrusor smooth muscle cells', Biomedical Research Journal, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 49-55. https://doi.org/10.4103/BMRJ.BMRJ_9_19

Hansen, T, Tarasova, OS, Khammy, MM, Ferreira, A, Kennard, JA, Andresen, J, Staehr, C, Brain, K, Nilsson, H & Aalkjær, C 2019, 'Ca2+ changes in sympathetic varicosities and Schwann cells in rat mesenteric arteries - relation to noradrenaline release and contraction', Acta Physiologica, vol. 226, no. 4, e13279. https://doi.org/10.1111/apha.13279

Mahapatra, C, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2018, 'A biophysically constrained computational model of the action potential of mouse urinary bladder smooth muscle', PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 7, e0200712, pp. 1-32. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200712


Sengupta, N, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2024, A novel, enhanced model for the detrusor syncytium: incorporating innervated bundles. in R Manchanda & S Appukuttan (eds), Urinary Bladder Physiology: Computational Insights. Publ Narosa Publishing House, New Delhi. <http://www.narosa.com/books_display.asp?catgcode=978-81-8487-750-2>

Padmakumar, M, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2024, Analysis of the electrical activity in detrusor smooth muscle: inferences on syncytial function. in S Appukuttan & R Manchanda (eds), Urinary Bladder Physiology: Computational Insights. 1 edn, Publ Narosa Publishing House, New Delhi. <http://www.narosa.com/books_display.asp?catgcode=978-81-8487-750-2>

Mahapatra, C, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2024, Biophysically Realistic Modles of Detrusor Ion Channels: role in shaping spike and excitavility. in Urinary Bladder Physiology: Computational Insights. 1 edn, Publ Narosa Publishing House, New Delhi. <http://www.narosa.com/books_display.asp?catgcode=978-81-8487-750-2>

Appukuttan, S, Padmakumar, M, Young, J, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2019, Investigation of the syncytial nature of detrusor smooth muscle as a determinant of action potential shape. in H Dierckx, FH Fenton, S Filippi & A Pumir (eds), Simulating normal and arrhythmic dynamics: from sub-cellular to tissue and organ level. Frontiers, pp. 64-76. https://doi.org/10.3389/978-2-88963-067-7


Brain, K & Nagy, Z 2023, 'A modified Angoff B screening method for collusion detection in examinations delivered on the MSCAA and Speedwell platforms', The Clinical Teacher, vol. 20, no. S1, pp. 85-86. https://doi.org/10.1111/tct.13657

Conference contribution

Cao, L, Marshall, J & Brain, K 2020, Cannabinoid type I receptor-mediated inhibition of neuronal noradrenaline reuptake in the mouse heart. in British Journal of Pharmacology. vol. 178, P047, pp. 423-423. https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.15316

Cao, L, Marshall, J, Fabritz, L & Brain, K 2020, Program and Abstracts of the 31st International Symposium on the Autonomic Nervous System: Norepinephrine transporter saturation at physiological sympathetic firing rates in the murine heart. in Clinical Autonomic Research. vol. 30, 21, Springer, pp. 470-471. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10286-020-00728-8

Review article

Saleeb-Mousa, J, Nathanael, D, Coney, AM, Kalla, M, Brain, KL & Holmes, AP 2023, 'Mechanisms of Atrial Fibrillation in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea', Cells, vol. 12, no. 12, 1661. https://doi.org/10.3390/cells12121661

View all publications in research portal