Keith Buckler
Fellow and Tutor in Medicine


My first degree was in biochemistry, obtained in 1979 from Kings College London. In 1988 I received a PhD from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. I came to work in Oxford as a postdoctoral research assistant in the laboratory of Prof R.D. Vaughan-Jones in 1988. In 1993 I won an MRC Senior Research Fellowship and became a Junior Research Fellow of Queens College the same year. In 2001 I was appointed to a Tutorial Fellowship at Trinity College and a University Lectureship in the department of Physiology (commencing 2003).


I lecture and give tutorials on ‘Physiology & Pharmacology’ for the first-year biomedical science / medicine courses; on ‘Applied Physiology & Pharmacology’ for the second-year medicine course; and for two third-year options ‘Cardiovascular, Renal and Respiratory Biology’ and ‘Cellular Physiology and Pharmacology’. I teach first- year Trinity medical students, in groups of three, throughout the year, mostly for one tutorial a week. Teaching of second year students is conducted in a similar manner but only over the first two terms (the BM part 2 exam is at the beginning of the third term). Together with Paul Fairchild (also a Tutorial fellow in Medicine at Trinity) and Sarah Norman (a College Lecturer in Neuroscience), I provide general tutorial support to second- and third-year students studying for the Final Honours School. (Highly specialised tutorial support for the Final Honours School options is organised at the Faculty/Course level and involves an exchange scheme between Colleges, in which Trinity participates fully.) In addition to providing tutorials for final-year students in two subject areas, ‘Neurobiology of Breathing’ and’Cellular sensing’, I also supervise undergraduate research projects and extended essays, all of which are key parts of the final-year course. In addition to undergraduate teaching I supervise a number of graduate research students studying for a DPhil.



My current research focusses upon the sensory and signalling mechanisms of arterial chemoreceptors. These organs play a vital role in the control of breathing and the cardiovascular system. Their main function is to measure blood levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide and pH (acidity). This information is then relayed respiratory and cardiovascular control centres in the brainstem which then elicits complex compensatory changes in breathing, cardiac output and regional blood flow. A classic example of their functional role is the reflex increase in breathing that occurs when we enter a low oxygen environment for example at altitude. In addition to their beneficial role in the homeostatic control of breathing and the cardiovascular system, they have also been implicated in maladaptive/pathological events including sleep apnoea and some forms of hypertension.

My research group’s work is primarily focussed upon understanding how the carotid body, the main arterial chemoreceptor, senses hypoxia, hypercapnia and acidosis. This work is conducted at the cellular level and involves the study of calcium signalling, electrical signalling, pH regulation and mitochondrial function in primary sensory cells (type-1 cells) using live cell imaging techniques and electrophysiology.

In addition we are also interested in chemoreceptor plasticity e.g. their ability to adapt to prolonged periods of hypoxia and acclimatisation to altitude, and also in the pharmacology of chemoreceptor function e.g. the suppression of chemoreceptor activity by general anaesthetics and their activation by respiratory stimulants. Further details can be found at the group’s website.


Selected Publications

Turner PJ, Buckler KJ. (2013) “Oxygen and mitochondrial inhibitors modulate both monomeric and heteromeric TASK-1 and TASK-3 channels in mouse carotid body type-1 cells”. J Physiol. 591(Pt 23):5977-98.

Slingo ME, Turner PJ, Christian HC, Buckler KJ, Robbins PA. (2014). “The von Hippel-Lindau Chuvash mutation in mice causes carotid-body hyperplasia and enhanced ventilatory sensitivity to hypoxia.” J Appl Physiol. 116(7):885-92.

Bishop T, Talbot NP, Turner PJ, Nicholls LG, Pascual A, Hodson EJ, Douglas G, Fielding JW, Smith TG, Demetriades M, Schofield CJ, Robbins PA, Pugh CW, Buckler KJ, Ratcliffe PJ. (2013) “Carotid body hyperplasia and enhanced ventilatory responses to hypoxia in mice with heterozygous deficiency of PHD2.” J Physiol. 591(Pt 14):3565-77.

Buckler KJ, Turner PJ. (2013) “Oxygen sensitivity of mitochondrial function in rat arterial chemoreceptor cells”. J Physiol. 591(Pt 14):3549-63.

Buckler KJ. (2013). “Effects of exogenous hydrogen sulphide on calcium signalling, background (TASK) K channel activity and mitochondrial function in chemoreceptor cells”. Pflugers Arch. 463(5):743-54.