Dr Keith Brain PhD, MB/BS, FBPhS

Dr Keith Brain

School of Biomedical Sciences
Senior Lecturer
Head of Intercalation, MDS

Contact details

School of Biomedical Sciences
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.


  • MBChB
    • Foundations of Medical Science 1
    • Foundations of Medical Science 2
    • Foundations of Medical Science 3

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

  • BDS (Dentistry)
    • Introduction to Biomedical Science
    • Neuromuscular Systems

  • MPharm, Health Disease and Therapeutics 1.1

  • School of Biosciences, BIO213 Topics in Medical Biosciences

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



  • 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

Padmakumar, M, Brain, K, Young, J & Manchanda, R 2018, 'A four-component model of the action potential in mouse detrusor smooth muscle cell', PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 1, e0190016. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190016

Appukuttan, S, Padmakumar, M, Young, J, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2018, 'Investigation of the syncytial nature of detrusor smooth muscle as a determinant of action potential shape', Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 9, 1300. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.01300

Appukuttan, S, Padmakumar, M, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2017, 'A method for the analysis of AP foot convexity: insights into smooth muscle biophysics', Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, no. 64. https://doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2017.00064


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

Conference contribution

Brain, K & Nagy, Z 2023, A modified Angoff B screening method for collusion detection in examinations delivered on the MSCAA and Speedwell platforms. in Association of Medical Educators., ASM2023-199, ASM 2023 – Developing a Diverse Workforce, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 12/07/23.

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

Mahapatra, C, Brain, K & Manchanda, R 2017, Computational study of ATP gated Potassium ion channel in urinary bladder over activity. in 2016 International Conference on Inventive Computation Technologies (ICICT). vol. 2016, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), pp. 1-4, International Conference on Inventive Computer Technologies, 2016, Coimbatore, India, 26/08/16. https://doi.org/10.1109/INVENTIVE.2016.7824861

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