Dr Andrew Coney PhD

Dr Andrew Coney

School of Biomedical Sciences
Lecturer in Physiology
Affiliated: Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences

Contact details

Institute of Clinical Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

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. Andrew is currently the Physiological Society representative (https://www.physoc.org/) promoting both the subject and Society within Medical and Dental Sciences.


  • Fellow of the Physiological Society, 2019
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2016
  • Distinguished Fellow of the Teaching Academy, University of Birmingham, 2016
  • PhD Cardiovascular Physiology, University of Birmingham, 1997
  • BSc (Hons) Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Southampton, 1993


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.


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:

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 to Masters students.

Postgraduate supervision

Andrew currently supervises several PhD students investigating different aspects of cardiorespiratory physiology.

  • Effects of chronic intermittent hypoxia at different ages on carotid body function
  • Detection of dysfunctional breathing using structured light plethysmography
  • Angiotensin II signalling in the carotid body in physiology and pathology
  • Early markers of hypertension in young adults with a family history of hypertension
  • Ethnicity and cardiovascular disease – modulatory effects of respiratory training.

 Previous PhD students have investigated areas such as:

  • Developmental programming by chronic hypoxia in utero on muscle sympathetic nerve activity in the adult offspring.
  • Effects of ageing on the control of cerebral blood flow

Additionally, Andrew has supervised Masters students conducting their research projects. These have included projects such as:

  • 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?


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.

Andrew is a group leader of the Birmingham Arterial Chemoreceptor and Hypoxia Group. The research group focuses on defining the role of the carotid body chemoreceptors, in cardiovascular, respiratory and neuroendocrine physiology and pathology.  

Another strand of research has been collaboration with clinical colleagues. In one collaboration with respiratory colleagues at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, we are using a new method of measuring breathing that is totally passive and does not require forced manoeuvres – something that some patients find extremely difficult to carry out. In another collaboration with colleagues from Birmingham Women’s Hospital, we developed 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

  • Fellow of The Physiological Society
  • Member of The Physiological Society
  • Representative of the Physiological Society (https://www.physoc.org)
  • Member of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Society
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Distinguished Fellow of the Teaching Academy, University of Birmingham
  • Volunteer speaker for Understanding Animal Research


Recent publications


Holmes, AP, Ray, CJ, Kumar, P & Coney, AM 2020, 'A student practical to conceptualize the importance of Poiseuille's law and flow control in the cardiovascular system', American Journal of Physiology - Advances in Physiology Education, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 436-443. https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00004.2019

Coney, A, Holmes, A, Ray, C & Kumar, P 2020, 'A student practical to conceptualize the importance of Poiseuille’s law and flow control in the cardiovascular system: CORE CONCEPTS OF FLOW CONTROL IN A STUDENT LAB PRACTICAL', American Journal of Physiology - Advances in Physiology Education.

Holmes, A, Ray, C, Thompson, E, Alshehri, Z, Coney, A & Kumar, P 2018, 'Adrenaline activation of the carotid body: key to CO2 and pH homeostasis in hypoglycaemia and potential pathological implications in cardiovascular disease', Respiratory physiology & neurobiology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resp.2018.05.008

Holmes, A, Ray, C, Coney, A & Kumar, P 2018, 'Is carotid body physiological O2 sensitivity determined by a unique mitochondrial phenotype?', Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 9, 562. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.00562

Holmes, AP, Ray, CJ, Pearson, SA, Coney, AM & Kumar, P 2017, 'Ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) regulates peripheral chemoreceptor activity and cardiorespiratory responses to hypoxia', The Journal of Physiology. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP274498

Phillips, TJ, Scott, H, Menassa, DA, Bignell, AL, Sood, A, Morton, JS, Akagi, T, Azuma, K, Rogers, MF, Gilmore, CE, Inman, GJ, Grant, S, Chung, Y, Aljunaidy, MM, Cooke, C-L, Steinkraus, BR, Pocklington, A, Logan, A, Collett, GP, Kemp, H, Holmans, PA, Murphy, MP, Fulga, TA, Coney, AM, Akashi, M, Davidge, ST & Case, CP 2017, 'Treating the placenta to prevent adverse effects of gestational hypoxia on fetal brain development', Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 9079. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-06300-1

Thompson, EL, Ray, CJ, Holmes, AP, Pye, RL, Wyatt, CN, Coney, AM & Kumar, P 2016, 'Adrenaline release evokes hyperpnoea and an increase in ventilatory CO2 sensitivity during hypoglycaemia: a role for the carotid body', The Journal of Physiology, vol. 594, no. 15, pp. 4439-52. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP272191, https://doi.org/10.1113/JP272191

Rook, W, Johnson, CD, Coney, AM & Marshall, JM 2014, 'Prenatal hypoxia leads to increased muscle sympathetic nerve activity, sympathetic hyperinnervation, premature blunting of neuropeptide Y signaling, and hypertension in adult life', Hypertension, vol. 64, no. 6, pp. 1321-7. https://doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04374

Coney, A & Marshall, J 2010, 'Effects of maternal hypoxia on muscle vasodilatation evoked by acute systemic hypoxia in adult rat offspring: changed roles of adenosine and A1 receptors.', The Journal of Physiology, vol. 588, no. Pt 24, pp. 5115-25. https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2010.198275

Hauton, D, Coney, A & Egginton, S 2009, 'Both substrate availability and utilisation contribute to the defence of core temperature in response to acute cold', Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, vol. 154, no. 4, pp. 514-522. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2009.08.008

Coney, A & Hauton, D 2009, 'Early chronic hypoxia in utero leads to a dilated cardiomyopathy and poor contractile performance in ex vivo perfused hearts', The Journal of Physiological Sciences, pp. 277.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Ray, CJ, Dow, B, Kumar, P & Coney, AM 2015, Mild chronic intermittent hypoxia in wistar rats evokes significant cardiovascular pathophysiology but no overt changes in carotid body-mediated respiratory responses. in C Peers, P Kumar, C Wyatt, E Gauda, CA Nurse & N Prabhakar (eds), Arterial Chemoreceptors in Physiology and Pathophysiology. vol. 860, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, vol. 860, Springer, pp. 245-254. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-18440-1_28


Rook, W, Coney, A & Marshall, J 2011, 'Chronic hypoxia in utero (CHU) induces increases in sympathetic innervation and activity that exist into early adulthood', Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, vol. 2, pp. S21.

Rook, W, Coney, A & Marshall, J 2011, 'Femoral vascular responses evoked by different patterns of sympathetic nerve stimulation in developmentally programmed rats', Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, vol. 2, pp. S39.

Rook, W, Johnson, C, Coney, A & Marshall, J 2011, 'Hypoxic fetal programming of the sympathetic nervous system', FASEB Journal, vol. 25.

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