Reader in Physiology and Pharmacology

Division: Dietetics, Nutrition & Biological Sciences, Physiotherapy, Podiatry & Radiography

Tel: 0131 474 0000

Dr. Iain F. Gow (BSc (Hons), PhD) is a Reader in Physiology and Pharmacology in the Division of  Dietetics, Nutrition & Biological Sciences, Physiotherapy, Podiatry and Radiography. He is also an Associate Member of the Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research.

  • Overview
  • Research Interests
  • Research Publications
  • Funded Projects
  • Teaching & Learning
  • Activities & Awards

Although my first degree was in botany, many techniques and processes at the cellular level are common to the plant and animal kingdom. I started working in the University of Edinburgh Department of Medicine at the Western General Hospital measuring steroid levels in isolated adrenal cell supernates. This work evolved into measuring serotonin, and my PhD project was to develop methods to assay this biogenic amine in clinical and research samples. After my PhD, I continued my interest in a variety of cardiovascular projects including the effect of dietary sodium on platelet aggregation before moving to the University of Edinburgh Department of Physiology, first as a Research Fellow then as a Lecturer, where I carried out ion-transport studies using electrophysiology, and ion-sensitive cell-permeant fluorescent probes to monitor transport of lithium or magnesium in Purkinje fibres and isolated mammalian heart cells. In 1997 I was appointed as a Senior, then later, Principal Scientist in the Hannah Research Institute, Ayr, where initially I investigated the role of magnesium in nutrient partitioning in ruminants, and characterised adrenergic receptors in the bovine mammary artery using conventional organ baths and wire myography. On closure of the Institute in 2006, I relocated to Strathclyde University Department of Biological Sciences as a Senior Research Fellow to continue studies on mammary artery tone during the reproductive cycle. I took up my appointment as Lecturer in DNBS at Queen Margaret University in December 2007, and was promoted to Reader in 2012. Current work is still mostly focused on the cardiovascular system, though an emerging area of interest is the endocrine-like effects of phytochemicals.

Affiliations/Memberships to Other Organisations:

  • 2010 - Present:  Member of Society for Endocrinology
  • 2006 - Present:  Member of British Pharmacological Society
  • 1997 - Present:  Member of Scottish Cardiovascular Research Forum
  • 1990 -  Present:  Member of British Society for Cardiovascular Research
  • 1981 -  Present: Member of Caledonian Society for Endocrinology and Diabetes

Professional Social Media:

Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:

Most of my research throughout my career has focussed on the cardiovascular system, in particular regulation at the cellular and molecular level. In turn, ion regulation and transport are areas where I have most experience, ranging from serotonin uptake by platelets, to regulation of sodium/hydrogen exchange (NHE) by oestradiol, genistein  or resveratrol in human breast cancer cell lines. Activity of apparently simple transporters such as these is of great interest in diseases ranging from acute myocardial infarction to the behaviour of cells in the acidic environment of a tumour.  It is particularly interesting that these fundamental cellular processes can be modulated by plant-derived chemicals (phytochemicals) found in the diet.  This has lead to exploration of other areas of investigation exploring further the potential action of phytochemicals or other dietary components on other aspects of normal physiology such as satiety and cognitive function.

Active Research Interests:

  • Cellular ion regulation
  • Cellular transport mechanisms
  • Effects of phytoestrogens
  • Physiological effects of biogenic amines
  • Cardiovascular physiology
  • Physiological effects of magnesium
  • Physiological activity and effects of plant secondary metabolites
  • Mammary gland physiology

Research Methods:

  • Ion-sensitive fluorescent cellular probes
  • Wire myograph and organ bath studies
  • Non-invasive pulse wave analysis
  • Oral glucose tolerance tests
  • Immunoassays
  • HPLC
  • Electrophysiology
  • Platelet function studies
  • Measurement of free ions in blood/serum using an electrode analyser
  • Preparation of isolated cardiac ventricular myocytes


Please see my research publications in eResearch – Queen Margaret University’s repository

Research Grants & Contracts Funding:

2015 – 16: Physiological assessment of Herbal Products – Dr J McCluskey, Dr IF Gow, Dr M Warnock, £9,295 funded by A Vogel, Switzerland

2011: Pilot investigation into the postprandial effects of long chain omega-3 fatty acids on endothelial function and markers of oxidative stress – Dr IF Gow, Dr M Goua (RGU), Prof C Wainwright (RGU), Prof I Davidson – £8,200 funded by RGU Institute of Health and Welfare/QMU Clinical Nutrition Research Theme


Other Funding:

2015 – 18: Does consumption of cocoa polyphenols over 8 weeks result in cognitive function improvements in individuals in their 5th decade of life? – Co-supervisor Dr S Darling, £42,500 PhD Bursary, Ms Ruth Ashaye, funded by QMU

2014 – 17:Physiological Effects of Dietary β-Glucan upon Appetite and Cardiovascular Disease –Co-supervisors Dr S Drummond and Mr M Clapham, £42,500 PhD Bursary, Ms Suzanne Zaremba, funded by QMU

2011 – 14:Vacation Scholarships – Mr D Foy, and Ms T Doherty - £3,305 funded by the Society for Endocrinology

2010 – 14: Vacation Scholarships – Mr T Carson, Ms H Yousuf, and Mr N Abdone - £4,140 funded by Medical  Research Scotland (Note not RGCU funding)

My main areas of teaching are mammalian physiology and vascular pharmacology, though I do co-ordinate and teach Level 1 microbiology. In Levels 3 and 4, my research experience is used to describe and detail the application of some fundamental techniques used in research.  Computer workshops are used to introduce students to some commonly-used software packages and modellers, as well as reinforcing the taught material.  Work at Honours and Masters levels also broadly use and reflect my experience, thus allowing us to provide research-informed projects for the students.

Program Leader:

BSc Honours Human Biology



  • Level 1 UG D1138 Microbiology (Module co-ordinator)
  • Level 1 UG D1151 Introduction to Health and Society
  • Level 1 UG D1152 Contemporary Issues in Biological Sciences
  • Level 1 UG D1155 Health and Society
  • Level 2 UG D2131 Integrating Module 2 (Module co-ordinator)
  • Level 3 UG D3151 Dissertation (Module co-ordinator)
  • Level 3 UG D3165 Clinical Sciences 1
  • Level 3 UG D3167 Insights into Scientific Enquiry and Evaluation
  • Level 3 UG D3168 Professional Module
  • Level 3 UG D3170 Molecular Pharmacology
  • Level 4 UG D4142 Advanced Molecular Pharmacology (Module co-ordinator)
  • Level 4 UG D4154 Honours Project
  • Level 4 UG D4164 Research Process
  • Level 4 UG D4165 Research and Professional Communication


  • Masters PG DM009 Dissertation
  • Masters PG DM027 Clinical Sciences (Disease Aetiology & Management)
  • Masters PG DM041 Pharmacology and Pharmacogenetics (Module co-ordinator)

Promotion to Reader 2012