Dr Keith Brain

Lecturer (Pharmacology)


PhD(Physiology), MB/BS (Hons; Sydney), FBPhS

Academic Background

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, but remains an associate member of the Oxford Department of Pharmacology.

Undergraduate Teaching

Within the college, Dr Brain’s role focuses on the teaching of Pharmacology within the undergraduate medicine programme (first BM), and specialty teaching in autonomic neuroscience, calcium signalling and smooth muscle physiology for FHS. In Birmingham he is the deputy lead for Year 1 and 2 of the MB ChB programme.

Research Interests

Dr Brain’s research focuses on the physiology and pharmacology of the Autonomic Nervous System and smooth muscle. Key research achievements have included the development of new optical techniques to monitor Ca2+ within living autonomic nerve terminals (Brain and Bennett, 1995, 1997), to monitor the exocytosis of single neurotransmitter packets (Brain et al., 2002; Brain, 2008) and to monitor the rate of neurotransmitter recycling and packaging (Parker et al. 2010). His current research includes the study of autonomic co-transmission, the prejunctional regulation of sympathetic transmission by nicotinic receptors, and the role of autonomic dysregulation in the overactive detrusor (bladder). 

Publications include:

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.

Holmes, A.P., Yu, T.Y., Tull, S., Syeda, F., Kuhlmann, S.M., O'Brien, S.-M., Patel, P., Brain, K.L., Pavlovic, D., Brown, N.A., Fabritz, L. and Kirchhof, P. (2016) "A regional reduction in Ito and IKACh in the murine posterior left atrial myocardium is associated with action potential prolongation and increased ectopic activity," PLoS One doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154077.

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.

Parker, L.K., Shanks, J.A., Kennard, J.A.G. and 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.

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

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.

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

Brain, K.L. and 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.

Zhu, H-L., Brain, K.L., Aishima, M., Shibata, A., Young, J.S., Sueishi, K. and Teramoto, N. (2008) "Actions of two main metabolites of propiverine (M-1 and M-2) on voltage-dependent L-Type Ca2+ currents and Ca2+ transients in murine urinary bladder myocytes," Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 324:118-127.

Young, J.S., Brain, K.L. and Cunnane, T.C. (2007) "Electrical and optical study of nerve impulse-evoked ATP-induced, P2X-receptor-mediated sympathetic neurotransmission at single smooth muscle cells in mouse isolated vas deferens," Neuroscience 148:82-91.

Williams, D.J., Brain, K.L. and Cunnane, T.C. (2007) "The effect of epibatidine on spontaneous and evoked neurotransmitter release in the mouse and guinea pig isolated vas deferens," British Journal of Pharmacology 150:906-912.

Young, J.S., Brain, K.L. and Cunnane, T.C. (2007) "The origin of the skewed amplitude distribution of spontaneous excitatory junction potentials in poorly coupled smooth muscle cells," Neuroscience 145:153-161.

Brain, K.L., Kay, J. and Shine, B. (2006) "Measurement of urinary metanephrines to screen for pheochromocytoma in an unselected hospital referral population," Clinical Chemistry 52:2060-2064.

Webster, R.G., Brain, K.L., Wilson, R.H., Grem, J.L. and Vincent, A. (2005) "Oxaliplatin induces hyperexcitability at motor and autonomic neuromuscular junctions through effects on voltage-gated sodium channels," British Journal of Pharmacology 146:1027-1039.

Brain, K.L., Cuprian, A.M., Williams, D.J. and Cunnane, T.C. (2003) "The sources and sequestration of Ca2+ contributing to Neuroeffector Ca2+ transients in the mouse vas deferens," Journal of Physiology 553:627-635.

Brain, K.L., Jackson, V.M., Trout, S.J. and Cunnane, T.C. (2002) "Intermittent ATP release from nerve terminals elicits focal smooth muscle Ca2+ transients in mouse vas deferens," Journal of Physiology 541:849-862.

Brain, K.L., Trout, S.J., Jackson, V.M., Dass, N. and Cunnane, T.C. (2001) "Nicotine induces calcium spikes in single nerve terminal varicosities: a role for intracellular calcium stores," Neuroscience 106:395-403.


Chauffer for two children; listening to English choral music.