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Professor Noel McHale

Position: Director
Email: info@icbc.ie

Research Interests

Noel McHaleMy early research was entirely focussed on the lymphatic system where I believe we established beyond reasonable doubt that intrinsic contractions of the lymph ducts are the essential motor of lymph propulsion in mammals. Ours is by far the best-known in Ireland and Britain in this area (42% of the papers published over the last twenty years in the Journal of Physiology, on the physiology of the lymph pump were from this lab as were 15% of all the papers published world-wide). I have been an invited speaker/ chairman or keynote speaker at more than 27 major international conferences in this field.  

In the course of investigating the origin and modulation of spontaneous rhythmicity in lymphatic vessels we became interested in the basis of pacemaking in smooth muscle in general. This is an important area since contraction or relaxation of smooth muscle is the final step in the regulation of many vital bodily functions (control of blood pressure, gastrointestinal motility, bladder function, etc.). Thus the understanding of its function and of its pharmacology are central to pharmaceutical and medical research as evidenced by the 40,000 publications in this area in the last five years. For this reason three of my colleagues and I decided to pool our resources to form a "Smooth Muscle Research Centre" so that we could focus our efforts on some fundamental aspects of this most important tissue. This has led to a range of significant advances in our understanding of the physiology of the smooth muscle of lymphatics, the corpus cavernosum, the gastrointestinal tract and the urethra. In the case of this last tissue we were the first to demonstrate that specialised pacemaker cells could be found in tonically active tissue and that tone could be initiated and modulated by these cells in a frequency-modulated fashion. In the course of investigating the origin of pacemaking in these interstitial cells we have become interested in intracellular calcium oscillations and this is now a major focus of our work.

Selected Publications

  • McHale N, Hollywood M, Sergeant G, Thornbury K. (2006) Origin of Spontaneous Rhythmicity in Smooth Muscle. Journal of Physiology 570 (Pt1):23-8.
  • Johnston L, Sergeant GP, Hollywood MA, Thornbury KD, McHale NG. (2005) Calcium oscillations in interstitial cells of the rabbit urethra. Journal of Physiology 565:449-561
  • McCLOSKEY, K. D., HOLLYWOOD, M. A., THORNBURY, K. D., WARD, S. M. & McHALE, N. G. (2002). Kit-like immunopositive cells in sheep mesenteric lymphatic vessels. Cell and Tissue Research 310, 77-84.
  • SERGEANT, G. P., HOLLYWOOD, M. A., McCLOSKEY, K. D., THORNBURY, K. D. & McHALE, N. G. (2000). Specialised pacemaking cells in the rabbit urethra. Journal of Physiology-London 526, 359-366.
  • Macdonald AJ, Arkill KP, Tabor GR, McHale NG, Winlove CP. (2008) Modeling flow in collecting lymphatic vessels: one-dimensional flow through a series of contractile elements. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 295, H305-13.

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