Dr Keith Brain PhD, MB/BS, FBPhS

Dr Keith Brain

Institute of Clinical Sciences
Senior Lecturer
Head of Intercalation, MDS

Contact details

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

Dr Brain 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. His research focusses on Autonomic physiology and pharmacology, both within the cardiovascular system and the urogenitral tract. His teaching focusses on the fields of Pharmacology and Renal physiology.


  • 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.


Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD student:

  • Ms Lily Cao (BHF PhD studentship) studying on “Developing New, Fluorescence-Based Techniques to Study Sympathetic Nerve Function in Murine Heart and Blood Vessels”


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

The development of new techniques for dynamically monitoring neurotransmitter release with single-molecule resolution failure (with H. Bayley, University of Oxford)

Other activities


  • Mahapatra, C., Brain, K.L. and Manchanda, R. (2018) "A biophysically constrained computational model of the action potential of mouse urinary bladder smooth muscle," PLoS One, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0200712
  • Padmakumar, M., Brain, K.L., Young, J.S. and Manchanda, R. (2018) "A four-component model of the action potential in mouse detrusor smooth muscle cell," PLoS One, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0190016.
  • Appukuttan, S., Brain, K. and Manchanda, R. (2017) "Modeling extracellular fields for a three-dimensional network of cells using NEURON," Journal of Neuroscience Methods 290:27-38.
  • Zhongmin, L., Chouhan, A.K., Borycz, J.A., Lu, Z., Rossano, A.J., Brain, K.L., Zhou, Y., Meinertzhagen, I.A., Macleod, G.T. (2016) "High probability neurotransmitter release sites represent an energy efficient design." Current Biology 26:2562-2571, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.032
  • Appukuttan, S., Brain, K.L. and Manchanda, R. (2015) "A computational model of urinary bladder smooth muscle syncytium: validation and investigation of electrical properties," Journal of Computational Neuroscience 38: 167-187.
  • Boersma, A.J., Brain, K.L. and Bayley, H. (2012) "Real-time stochastic detection of multiple neurotransmitters with a protein nanopore," ACS Nano 6:5304-5308.
  • Kobayter, S. Young, J.S. and Brain, K.L. (2012) "Prostaglandin E2 induces spontaneous rhythmic activity in mouse urinary bladder independently of efferent nerves," British Journal of Pharmacology, 165:401-413.
  • Williams, D.J., Sidaway, P., Cunnane, T.C. and Brain, K.L. (2011) "Mechanisms involved in nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-induced neurotransmitter release from sympathetic nerve terminals in the mouse vas deferens," PLoS One, 6:e29209.
  • Brading, A.F. and Brain, K.L. (2011). "Ion Channel Modulators". In Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology: Urinary Tract, ed. Andersson KE & Michel MC, pp. 375-393, Springer.
  • Brain, K.L. (2010), Parasympathetic cholinergic transmission, minus the vesicles, Experimental Physiology, 95:263-264.
  • Parker, L.K., Shanks, J.A., Kennard, J.A.G. & Brain, K.L. (2010), Dynamic monitoring of NET activity in mature murine sympathetic terminals using a fluorescent substrate, British Journal of Pharmacology, 159:797-807.
  • Brain, K.L. (2009), Neuroeffector Ca2+ transients for the direct measurement of purine release and indirect measurement of co-transmitters, Experimental Physiology, 94:25-30.

  • Rahman, F., Manchanda, R. & Brain, K.L. (2009), Prejunctional and postjunctional actions of heptanol and 18β-glycyrretinic acid in the rodent vas deferens, Autonomic Neuroscience, 148:69–75. 

  • Valeri, A., Brain, K.L., Young, J.S., Sgaragli, G. & Pessina, F. (2009), Effects of 17β-estradiol on rat detrusor smooth muscle contractility, Experimental Physiology, 94:834-846.

  • Young, J.S., Amos, R.J. & Brain, K.L. (2009), Focal Ca2+ transient detection in smooth muscle, Journal of Visualized Experiments 28, doi: 10.3791/1247.

  • Brain, K.L. & Cunnane, T.C. (2008). Bretylium abolishes neurotransmitter release without necessarily abolishing the nerve terminal action potential in sympathetic terminals, British Journal of Pharmacology, 153:831–839.

  • Young, J.S., Meng, E., Cunnane, T.C. & Brain, K.L. (2008), Efferent purinergic neurotransmission in the mouse urinary bladder, Journal of Physiology, 586:5743-5755