Corpus Christi College Oxford

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Professor Pawel Swietach

Pawel Swietach

Handa Fellow and Tutor in Physiology, Associate Professor (UL) in Cardiovascular Physiology


In this present ‘post-genomic era’, there is an urgent need to understand how processes, determined by the products of genes, work together in a living organism. This is the remit of physiology.

I am a physiologist interested in how small molecules, including ions, affect cellular function in health and disease. My laboratory at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics ( investigates signalling by small molecules in the heart and in cancer, with a particular focus on hydrogen ions, which determine pH.  Our ambition is to understand how cells handle their acidic products and how, in turn, acid/base chemistry affects biology.

Our work is funded by the European Union, with grants also received from UK charities and research councils.

I was born in Warsaw, Poland, and came to Oxford to study Physiological Sciences in 1998. After graduating, I studied for a PhD (2001-2004) in Professor Richard D Vaughan-Jones' laboratory in Oxford. My thesis was on pH regulation in the heart, with a particular emphasis on the molecules that determine the spatial distribution of hydrogen ions.

I continued with research training at Oxford and in Salt Lake City (USA). During this period, I studied how pH influences calcium signalling and electrical currents in heart cells.

In 2008, I was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to study pH regulation in 3-D tissue-like structures, with particular emphasis on cancer physiology. This work is done in collaboration with Professor Adrian L Harris in Oxford.

I currently hold a joint appointment between the University, as an associate professor in DPAG, and Corpus Christi, as the Handa Fellow.  

Research and recent publications

Key current research projects:

- How cancer cells survive metabolism: acid handling and signalling;

- The symbiosis between stromal cells and cancer cells in colorectal tumours;

- Role of nuclear pH in regulating gene expression in cardiac myocytes in health and disease;

- Effect of propionic acidosis on cardiac physiology;

- The effect of geometry and hemoglobin density on gas transport by normal and disease red blood cells.

- Seeking markers for hemolytic anaemia in new born

For more information including recent publications, see

College teaching

My appointment at College involves teaching and administrative duties for the preclinical Medicine course. I tutor students in Year 1 (Physiology and Pharmacology) and Year 2 (Integrative Physiology) for their First Bachelor of Medicine (BM) examination. I also provide teaching for Final Honours Schools (3rd year) in topics related to cellular physiology. I am also involved in supervising undergraduate dissertation projects.




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