Andreas Fahlman
Department of Zoology
The University of British Columbia
6270 University Blvd.
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4

Phone: +1-604-822-5043
Fax: +1-604-822-8121
E-mail: fahlman@zoology.ubc.ca



Andreas Fahlman


My exposure to diverse research environments spanning physiology from molecular to environmental levels has shown me the sort of work I enjoy: what I would call the future of “modern physiology”, where the tools of other disciplines such as molecular biology, quantitative genetics or mathematics are applied to solve central physiological questions.  My primary research interests are focused on understanding the physiological and molecular mechanisms in extreme environments. In particular, I am interested in respiratory and cardiovascular adaptations to hypoxia and especially its importance in diving physiology. I believe that the comparative approach is particularly powerful when studying physiological function and am interested how adaptation contribute to biological “fitness” and how this enable animals to inhabit a wide range of habitats.   

Even though my research is focused on whole animals, I commonly use tools of other disciplines such as molecular biology, quantitative genetics or mathematics, to solve central physiological questions. Thus, my integrative approach investigates physiological changes at several levels, such as the molecular, systemic and whole animal level. Physiological diversity and variation present useful insight into general physiological mechanism. A key question is how the diversity generated by a given genotype is expressed as different phenotypes, i.e. phenotypic plasticity, and to what extreme these phenotypes can be modulated. I believe that integration of the comparative approach with physiology and ecology may enable me to answer some of the fascinating questions that exist about physiological form and function.

   In previous research, I have investigated thermoregulatory, cardiovascular and respiratory changes during foraging and fasting in penguins (11,13), heritable traits of the ventilatory and cardiovascular responses to hypoxia in humans (8, 14*), cardiovascular and respiratory responses in pigs in hyperbaria (3-7, 10), and respiratory efficiency during swimming in humans. On the molecular level, I was among the first to search for differentially expressed genes in the muscle and heart in hibernating mammals (1). These diverse fields have made it possible to gain unique knowledge of physiological mechanisms and I this approach is key to understanding animal physiology.

*Numbers refer to published papers on the publication page.

Acknowledgements: The photos on these pages were kindly supplied by Alexander Schmidt and Sebastien Durand