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Professor Michael McKenna

BSc (Hons), Dip Ed MSc PhD, Uni Melb

Director, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL); Director of Research, College of Sport & Exercise Science; Professor of Exercise Physiology

Professor Michael McKenna was appointed as the ISEAL Director in 2013.

He has an internationally recognised research track record in integrative human physiology, specialising in regulation of potassium during exercise, the sodium/potassium-pump in skeletal muscle and fatigue. His research includes investigations into mechanisms of fatigue, muscle adaptability with training and inactivity, and chronic disease effects on muscle function and exercise limitation. His research is located in the ISEAL Clinical Exercise Science Research Program.

Professor McKenna’s research publications comprise 100 journal articles with 2884 total citations and an h-index of 33; 10 book chapters, 2 scientific reports and 200 conference abstracts. He has delivered invited presentations at 18 international and national conferences and has supervised 17 PhD and 7 Masters students to completion.

Professor McKenna has received extensive external research funding with a career total of $9.25 million. This includes from competitive national grants including National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council, and through industry/government funding including the Australian Sports Commission, Australian Institute of Sport, the sport science and health sectors, and in Clinical Exercise Science from the Australian Government Collaborative Research Network (CRN).

He received the Vice-Chancellor’s Peak Award for Outstanding Service to Victoria University in 2010.

Recent publications

Wyckelsma VL, MJ McKenna, FR Serpiello, CR Lamboley, RJ Aughey, NK Stepto, DJ Bishop and RM Murphy. Single fiber expression and fiber-specific adaptability to short-term intense exercise training of Na+,K+-ATPase α and β isoforms in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology 118(6):699-706, 2015.

Perry BD, Levinger P, Morris HG, Petersen AC, Garnham AP, Levinger I and MJ McKenna. The effects of knee injury on skeletal muscle function, Na+,K+-ATPase content and isoform abundance. Physiological Reports 12;3(2). pii: e12294, 2015.

Lamboley CR, VL Wyckelsma, TL Dutka, MJ McKenna, RM Murphy and GD Lamb. Contractile properties and sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium content in type I and type II skeletal muscle fibres in active aged humans. Journal of Physiology. 593(1):2499-514, 2015.

Lamboley CR, RM Murphy, MJ McKenna and GD Lamb Sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ uptake and leak properties and SERCA protein expression in type I and type II fibres of human skeletal muscle. Journal of Physiology 592(6): 1381–1395, 2014.

Atanasovska T, AC Petersen, DM Rouffet, F Billaut, I Ng and MJ McKenna. Plasma K+ dynamics and implications during and following intense rowing exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 117(1):60-8, 2014.

View Michael's full publication list in the Victoria University Research Repository.


Supervised two postdoctoral fellows, 17 PhD students, seven Master of Applied Science students, and nine honours students.

Current supervision

Current supervision comprises three PhD students with a further two PhD students whose thesis is under examination.

Selected recent grants

2015-2017. Lamb G, R Murphy, MJ McKenna. Molecular basis of Ca2+-dependent disruption of EC-coupling and weakness in skeletal muscle. NH&MRC Project Grant ($514,492).

2014-2016. Bishop D, MJ McKenna and P Atherton. Discovering the role of pH in regulating mitochondrial biogenesis, so as to improve the design of preventative programs aimed at healthy ageing. ARC Discovery Project Grant ($360,000).

2013-2015. Lamb G, R Murphy, MJ McKenna. Physiological and pathological effects of oxidation on contractile function in skeletal muscle. NH&MRC Project Grant ($592,142).

2012-14. McKenna MJ, A Hayes, R Polman, K Bennett. Clinical Exercise Science and Active Living ($2.0 million). Element of Victoria University grant from Australian Government Collaborative Research Network.

Industry/government and charitable funding

  • Australian Sports Commission / Australian Institute of Sport
  • Western Bulldogs
  • The New Zealand Merino Company Limited
  • Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
  • Mason Foundation
  • Musashi
  • L.E.W. Carty Charitable Foundation
  • Western Hospital

Professional memberships

1989 - Australian Physiology Society (AuPS)

2005 - The American Physiology Society (APS)

2005 - Potassium, sodium and the function of heart and skeletal muscle (MyoNaK)

2010 - American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)


Areas of expertise

  • Human exercise physiology; potassium and electrolytes
  • Muscle adaptability with training and inactivity
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Research and Institute management
  • Skeletal muscle sodium-potassium-ATPase

Contact details

+61 3 9919 4499
+61 3 9919 9480

Twitter @MMcKennaISEAL


Executive Assistant (EA)

Ms Amanda Rea

Phone: +61 3 9919 2685