Philip Ainslie Lecture


Philip Ainslie

The Human Brain Surviving Without Oxygen

A public lecture by Philip Ainslie, Professor & Canada Research Chair in Cerebrovascular Physiology and Co-Director, Centre for Heart, Lung & Vascular Health, The University of British Columbia

Relative to its size, the brain is the most oxygen-dependent organ in the body, but many pathophysiological and environmental processes may either cause or result in an interruption to its oxygen supply. Arguably the most unique data in humans comes from free-divers and mountaineers, extreme athletes in whom the lowest oxygen tensions and greatest extremes of carbon dioxide have been recorded (from respiratory alkalosis in the mountaineer to acidosis in the free-diver). In this talk, with a focus on integration and punitive mechanism(s) of action, data will be highlighted to examine to what extent the brain likely contributes toward these athletes’ extraordinary abilities to survive in such harsh environments characterized by physiological extremes of hypoxemia, alkalosis, and acidosis helping define the human brain’s remarkable limits of tolerance. The consequences of extreme free diving and mountaineering from a physiological and clinical perspective will also be outlined.

Professor Phil Ainslie is a globally recognized human physiologist whose research of the past 10 years has catalyzed major efforts to understand the mechanisms regulating brain blood flow in health and disease. His diverse expertise in assessing cerebrovascular function during physiological scenarios ranging from sleep to exercise, the stresses of high altitude to deep-sea diving, and healthy aging to heart disease, has made him an international authority on brain vascular function.  His work in cerebrovascular pathology encompasses the lifespan: from the young child to the aged athlete, to research examining interventions to mitigate the impact pathologies such as sleep apnea, stroke, and spinal cord injury on the brain. He has led >10 international research field expeditions to high altitude. Dr Ainslie’s research program utilizes a vast network of international collaborators, and facilitates the ongoing training of numerous highly qualified personal, some of whom have been awarded the highest Canadian honors for their contributions to research. Dr Ainslie has published over 240 peer reviewed manuscripts in some of the best physiology and clinical journals.

Professor Ainslie is a UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

This public lecture is part of the Exercise, Medicine and Health Symposium presented by the UWA School of Human Sciences (Exercise and Sport Science) and the Institute of Advanced Studies.