Dr Simon Potocnik is a member of the Cell Biology and Anatomy discipline in the School and coordinates the 2nd year course, BIOL2319 Developmental and Cell Biology and the 3rd year BIOL2357, Practical Biomedical Science. As a member of the Vascular Biology Research Group he is involved in many projects and has a special interest in the myogenic response of microvascular smooth muscle to changes in mechanical force.
Dr Potocnik's main research is in the areas of cardiovascular physiology and cell biology, with a strong focus on microvasculature function; specifically arterioles, blood vessels with an inside diameter of less than 0.2 mm. Of particular interest in these small blood vessels are the smooth muscle and endothelial cells in the wall and the signaling mechanisms which enable them to sense the level of blood pressure. Arterioles respond to increased blood pressure by contracting and to decreases in blood pressure by dilating to ’automatically’ control the pressure and flow of blood into capillaries within our body tissues. Arterioles also remodel, for example to develop thicker more muscular walls in people with hypertension and are responsible for many of the ’complications’ in people with diabetes when microvascular function is impaired.
The functional control of arterioles is studied directly in Dr Potocnik's lab using a combination of cell culture, in vitro blood vessel observation via video, fluorescence and confocal microscopy and biochemical and molecular biology techniques on micro quantities of human or animal blood vessels. The work is significant because microvasculature disease is difficult to treat and so is a clinical problem associated with diseases like hypertension and diabetes, and interesting because their research shows that arterioles have different functional properties in different regions of the body and these may provide a way of targeting new therapeutics to specific regions.
Educational development work
From 2006, Dr Potocnik, together with other members of the Cell Biology and Anatomy discipline, has developed cell culture practicals for students in years 2 and 3 of the biomedical sciences program. This involved designing and equipping laboratories to provide undergraduate students with hands on experience of mammalian cell culture. In addition to designing and testing cell culture practicals that demonstrate cell growth and signaling characteristics, he designed the practicals to develop analytical skills recommended by the School's program advisory committee of biomedical industry representatives.
The cell culture facility has further allowed development of a new course in 2010 - BIOL2357 Practical Biomedical Science - that provides students the opportunity to undertake short projects, in a work place environment, further developing practical cell culture and anatomy skills. This course includes an industry work placement option and together with the recognition of the laboratories within RMIT as a biomedical workplace, provides students a genuine work integrated learning experience.
The availability of cell culture teaching labs has also allowed the spread of novel cell / biomedical practicals into disciplines such as Medical Radiations. The practicals he has designed now directly inform young radiation therapists of the effects of radiation dose and type on live cells. This novel initiative is supported by the International Radiation Therapy education community.
As Honours Program Coordinator for the School of Medical Sciences, together with the Honours Program team, there is continuing development of collaborative workshops to ensure students receive instruction in skills to enhance and support their Honours year research project.
Health - Microvascular diseases;Biology - Human biology; Cell biology; Cell Membrane signalling in endothelial and vascular smooth muscle
- Physiology and Cell Biology lecturer into Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Science, Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Chinese Medicine, Medical Radiations, Physical Education and Exercise and Sport Science programs
- Teaching specialties in cellular communication, practical cell biology techniques, cardiovascular physiology and cell biology
- Supervision of Honours and PhD students in Medical Sciences
- Presenter and coordinator of Honours student workshops and seminars
- BSc (Hons), University of Melbourne 1978
- PhD (Physiology), University of Melbourne, Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine, 1986
- Graduate Certificate (Tertiary Teaching and Learning) RMIT University 2007
- Baratchi, S.,Khoshmanesh, K.,Woodman, O.,Potocnik, S.,Karlheinz, P.,McIntyre, P. (2017). Molecular Sensors of Blood Flow in Endothelial Cells In: Trends in Molecular Medicine, 23, 850 - 868
- Chan, S.,Lau, Y.,Miller, A.,Ku, J.,Potocnik, S.,Ye, J.,Woodman, O.,Herbert, T. (2017). Angiotensin II causes b-cell dysfunction through an er stress-induced proinflammatory response In: Endocrinology, 158, 3162 - 3173
- Al-Aryahi, S.,Kamato, D.,Getachew, R.,Zheng, W.,Potocnik, S.,Cohen, N.,Guidone, D.,Osman, N.,Little AM, P. (2014). Atherogenic, fibrotic and glucose utilising actions of glucokinase activators on vascular endothelium and smooth muscle In: Cardiovascular Diabetology, 13, 1 - 15
- Stebbing, M.,Potocnik, S.,Ye, L.,Badoer, E. (2010). Use of confocal microscopy for three-dimensional imaging of neurons in the spinal cord In: Methods in Molecular Biology; Histology Protocols, Vol 611, Part 2, Humana Press, New York, United States
- Potocnik, S.,McSherry, I.,Ding, H.,Murphy, T.,Kotecha, N.,Dora, K.,Yuill, K.,Triggle, C.,Hill, M. (2009). Endothelium-dependent vasodilation in myogenically active mouse skeletal muscle arterioles: Role of EDH and K+ channels In: Microcirculation, 16, 377 - 390
- Che, Y.,Potocnik, S.,Ellis, A.,Li, C. (2007). Effects of TRIM on tension, intracellular calcium and nitrergic transmission in the rat anococcygeus muscle In: Nitric Oxide: Biology and Chemistry, 16, 29 - 35
- Potocnik, S.,Jenkins, N.,Murphy, T.,Hill, M. (2007). Membrane cholesterol depletion with beta-cyclodextrin impairs pressure-induced contraction and calcium signalling in isolated skeletal muscle arterioles In: Journal Of Vascular Research, 44, 292 - 302
- Hill, M.,Davis, M.,Meininger, G.,Potocnik, S.,Murphy, T. (2006). Arteriolar myogenic signalling mechanisms: Implications for local vascular function In: Clinical Hemorheology And Microcirculation, 34, 67 - 79
- Potocnik, S.,Martinez-Lemus, L.,Meininger, G.,Hill, M. (2003). Delayed arteriolar relaxation after prolonged agonist exposure: Functional remodeling involving tyrosine phosphorylation In: American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 285, H849 - H856
- Richards, K.,Davis, M.,Potocnik, S.,Murphy, T.,Bishara, N.,Rajanayagam, M.,Darby, I.,Hill, M. (2003). Approaches for introducing peptides into intact and functional arteriolar smooth muscle: Manipulation of protein kinase-based signalling In: Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, 30, 653 - 658
- A Fast-Scanning Spectral Confocal Microscope for RMIT Bundoora for use in cardiovascular, diabetes, cancer and neuroscience research. Funded by: Ramaciotti Foundation Equipment Grant pre-2014 from (2009 to 2009)
- Studies of human microvascular dysfunction in type 2 diabetes. Funded by: Diabetes Australia Research Trust Grant Pre-2014 from (2007 to 2007)
- Vascular Myogenic Vasoconstriction: Ca2+ signalling mechanisms. Funded by: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant 2004 from (2004 to 2006)
3 PhD Completions