17 July 2015
Professor Göran Nilsson has long been interested in animals that can do the extreme. His research group at the University of Oslo has studied adaptations to variable oxygen levels in the brain, heart and respiratory organs of various animals that can survive without any oxygen for months. It has also studied the effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on the physiology of marine fishes, to find out how they will cope with the predicted increases in ocean temperature and acidity.
A simple experiment recently reminded Göran how biology has the ability to excite. He was studying changes in the behaviour of marine fishes when exposed to the increased levels of carbon dioxide expected in oceans within a century. He tried a long shot – based on his recent work in respiratory physiology and some neuropharmacology drawn from his PhD nearly 30 years ago – and discovered what goes wrong in the brain of these fishes. It was that a particular neurotransmitter system (the GABA system) gets disrupted.
He believes strongly in the importance of The Company of Biologists – the journals it produces, the work it does to help young scientists with travel grants, and the fact that all profits in one way or another come back to the scientists.
“In my research area (animal physiology), The Company of Biologists brings the highest regarded journal: Journal of Experimental Biology. You can call it a community journal that we all feel strongly for. I felt it was a duty to support my favourite journal and the organisation behind it.”
Göran Nilsson, Director