Section: Overview
Overview
Key publications
Research funding
Supervising & teaching
Career

Key details

Areas of expertise

  • Muscle and exercise physiology
  • Human physiology
  • Human exercise physiology; potassium and electrolytes
  • Skeletal muscle sodium-potassium-ATPase
  • muscle fatigue

Available to supervise research students

Available for media queries

About Michael McKenna

Michael is an internationally recognised researcher with a distinguished record in senior research leadership at VU. His previous roles have included:

  • Executive Director (Inaugural) of the Institute for Health and Sport (iHeS) (2018-20)
  • Member of the VU Research Executive (2018-20)
  • Director (2013–17) and Research Director (Inaugural, 2010–2012) of the former Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
  • Research Director of the College of Sport and Exercise Science (2013-15).

 

He was responsible for establishing both ISEAL and iHeS. He led development of the world-class Sport & Exercise Science facilities and also the Exercise Lifestyle Research facility associated with the 2025 Footscray Hospital. His focus has been on successfully developing world-class research in Health and Sport at VU, now ranked #9 globally in Sport Science (2020 AWRU), and rated extremely highly by the Australian Government (2018 ERA). He has fostered development of strong local, national and international partnerships. Michael was awarded the Vice-Chancellor's Recognition of Outstanding Service to VU (2020), the VU Centenary Medal (2016) and the Vice-Chancellor’s Peak Award for Outstanding Service to VU (2010). He was a Guest Professor at Guangzhou Sport University, China (2017-19).

Michael has an internationally recognised track record in muscle and exercise physiology, through integrative human physiology research, including his research investigating exercise, potassium and sodium-potassium pumps in skeletal muscle in humans. His research has largely focused on muscle function, fatigue, adaptability with training, ageing and inactivity, exercise limitations in chronic disease including patients with chronic kidney failure, lung transplants and osteoarthritis. He has made important contributions to understanding this field, including investigation of molecular and contractile regulation in single muscle cells in humans, in muscle biopsies obtained from young and older adults.

Michael's career highlights include:

  • being Chairman (2005-12) of the MyoNaK international research interest group investigating sodium/potassium regulation in heart and muscle, with ~70 scientists, including many world leaders in their field, and four international conferences
  • successful completions of 21 PhD, 10 Masters and 9 Honours students, and supervision of 3 postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have gone onto successful academic and industry careers
  • external research funding as a Chief Investigator totalling more than $AUD11.0 million, from competitive grants, government and industry sources
  • an h-index of 41 (Scopus), having published 114 papers (most as first or senior author) that have attracted more than 4,930 citations, as well as 10 book chapters and various scientific/industry reports.

Qualifications

  • PhD, University of Melbourne, Australia, 1991
  • BSc (Hons), University of Melbourne, Australia, 1982
  • Dip Ed, University of Melbourne, Australia, 1983
  • MSc, University of Melbourne, Australia, 1986

Key publications

Year Citation
2020 Altarawneh, M. M., Petersen, A. C., Farr, T., Garnham, A., Broatch, J. R., Halson, S., Bishop, D. J., & McKenna, M. J. (200801). Resistance training upregulates skeletal muscle Na+, K+-ATPase content, with elevations in both 1 and 2, but not isoforms. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 120(8), (1777-1785).

doi: 10.1007/s00421-020-04408-3

2020 Lamboley, C. R., Rouffet, D. M., Dutka, T. L., McKenna, M. J., & Lamb, G. D. (200501). Effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise on the contractile properties of human type I and type II skeletal muscle fibers. Journal of Applied Physiology, 128(5), (1207-1216).

doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00014.2020

2019 Wyckelsma, V. L., Perry, B. D., Bangsbo, J., & McKenna, M. J. (190101). Inactivity and exercise training differentially regulate abundance of Na+-K+-ATPase in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology, 127(4), (905-920).

doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01076.2018

2018 Atanasovska, T., Smith, R., Graff, C., Tran, C. T., Melgaard, J., Kanters, J. K., Petersen, A. C., Tobin, A., Kjeldsen, K. P., & McKenna, M. J. (180510). Protection against severe hypokalemia but impaired cardiac repolarization after intense rowing exercise in healthy humans receiving salbutamol. Journal of Applied Physiology, 125(2), (624-633).

doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00680.2017

2017 Wyckelsma, V. L., Levinger, I., Murphy, R. M., Petersen, A. C., Perry, B. D., Hedges, C. P., Anderson, M. J., & McKenna, M. J. (170401). Intense interval training in healthy older adults increases skeletal muscle [3H]ouabain-binding site content and elevates Na+,K+-ATPase 2 isoform abundance in Type II fibers. Physiological Reports, 5(7),

doi: 10.14814/phy2.13219

2016 Altarawneh, M. M., Petersen, A., Smith, R., Rouffet, D. M., Billaut, F., Perry, B. D., Wyckelsma, V. L., Tobin, A., & McKenna, M. J. (161201). Salbutamol effects on systemic potassium dynamics during and following intense continuous and intermittent exercise. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 116(11-12), (2389-2399).

doi: 10.1007/s00421-016-3481-0

2016 Perry, B. D., Wyckelsma, V. L., Murphy, R. M., Steward, C. H., Anderson, M., Levinger, I., Petersen, A. C., & McKenna, M. J. (161101). Dissociation between short-Term unloading and resistance training effects on skeletal muscle Na+,K+-ATPase, muscle function, and fatigue in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology, 121(5), (1074-1086).

doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00558.2016

2015 Perry, B. D., Levinger, P., Morris, H. G., Petersen, A. C., Garnham, A. P., Levinger, I., & McKenna, M. J. (150101). The effects of knee injury on skeletal muscle function, Na+, K+-ATPase content, and isoform abundance. Physiological Reports, 3(2),

doi: 10.14814/phy2.12294

2015 Wyckelsma, V. L., McKenna, M. J., Serpiello, F. R., Lamboley, C. R., Aughey, R. J., Stepto, N. K., Bishop, D. J., & Murphy, R. M. (150101). Single-fiber expression and fiber-specific adaptability to short-term intense exercise training of Na+-K+-ATPase- and -isoforms in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology, 118(6), (699-706).

doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00419.2014

2014 Atanasovska, T., Petersen, A. C., Rouffet, D. M., Billaut, F., Ng, I., & McKenna, M. J. (140701). Plasma K- Dynamics and implications during and following intense rowing exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 117(1), (60-68).

doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01027.2013

Research funding for the past 5 years

Please note:

  • Funding is ordered by the year the project commenced and may continue over several years.
  • Funding amounts for contact research are not disclosed to maintain commercial confidentiality.
  • The order of investigators is not indicative of the role they played in the research project.

Improving Care for Patients on a Waiting List for Orthopaedic Specialist Public Health Services in Melbourne’s West (Waitlist Project)
From: Victorian Higher Education Strategic Investment Fund
Other investigators: Prof Itamar Levinger, Prof Vasso Apostolopoulos, Prof Rebecca Lane, Miss Mary Woessner, Dr Michaela Pascoe, Prof Alexandra Parker
For period: 2021-2022
$2,025,812

Benchmark State Netball and Hockey Centre sporting facilities and training services.
From: Major Projects Victoria
Other investigators: Aspr Camilla Brockett, Dr Damian Farrow, Prof Andrew Stewart
For period: 2016-2017
Not disclosed

Maribyrnong Sports Academy - Sport Scientist
From: Victoria University, Maribyrnong College - Maribyrnong Sports Academy
Other investigators: Prof Samuel Robertson, Dr Paul Larkin, Dr Damian Farrow, Dr Jason Berry, Dr Carl Woods
For period: 2015-2023
$625,000
Molecular basis of Ca2+-dependent disruption of EC-coupling and weakness in skeletal muscle
From: NHMRC (Non-Lead Org)
For period: 2015-2017
$138,203

Discovering the role of pH in regulating mitochondrial biogenesis, so as to improve the design of preventative programs aimed at healthy ageing
From: ARC - Discovery
Other investigators: Prof David Bishop
For period: 2014-2016
$754,893

2014 - 2017 Sport Science Research and Knowledge Exchange Collaboration
From: Western Bulldogs
Other investigators: Prof Samuel Robertson, Prof Warren Payne
For period: 2013-2017
$1,871,930
VU/ISEAL Fitness Industry Research Project.
From: Fitness Australia Limited
For period: 2013-2016
$159,000
Physiological and pathological effects of oxidation on contractile function in skeletal muscle
From: La Trobe University, NHMRC - Projects
For period: 2013-2016
$258,428

Research Appointment of Dr Damian Farrow , Professor in Sport Science - Strategic Partnership Agreement between Australian Sports Commission
From: Australian Sports Commission (ASC)
Other investigators: Dr Damian Farrow, Prof Hans Westerbeek, Aspr Dennis Hemphill
For period: 2010-2016
Not disclosed

Supervision of research students at VU

Available to supervise research students

Available for media queries

Completed supervision of research students at VU

No. of students Study level Role
14 PhD Principal supervisor
4 PhD Associate supervisor
3 Masters by Research Principal supervisor

Completed supervision of research students at VU

Students & level Role
PhD (14) Principal supervisor
PhD (4) Associate supervisor
Masters by Research (3) Principal supervisor

Other supervision of research students

Supervision of research students at VU: 15 PhD as principal supervisor, 4 PhD as associate supervisor, 4 Masters by Research as principal supervisor, 2 Masters by Research as associate supervisor, 9 Honours student of which 8 received H1. Completed supervision of research students at University of Melbourne: 1 PhD as co-supervisor. Completed supervision of research students at University of Sydney: 1 PhD as co-supervisor, 1 Masters by Research as principal supervisor.

Teaching activities & experience

Michael has taught extensively in Exercise Physiology. He was previously also Course Coordinator of Graduate Diploma in Exercise and Sport Science at VU and Postgraduate Diploma in Exercise at VU (1992-2000) and Sports Science at University of Sydney (1991-92). 

Key academic roles

Dates Role Department / Organisation
Jan 2021 - Present
Professorial Research Fellow (Muscle and Exercise Physiology) (continuing)
Institute for Health and Sport (iHeS), VU
Jan 2018 - Dec 2020
Executive Director, Institute for Health and Sport
Victoria University
Jan 2006 - Dec 2020
Professor in Muscle and Exercise Physiology (Continuing position)
Victoria University
Apr 2017 - Dec 2019
Guest Professor
Guangzhou Sport University, Guangzhou, China
Sep 2012 - Dec 2017
Director, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Victoria University
Mar 2013 - Dec 2015
Research Director, College of Sport and Exercise Science
Victoria University
Jan 2010 - Aug 2012
Research Director, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Victoria University
Jan 2009 - Dec 2009
Director
Centre for Aging, Rehabilitation, Exercise and Sport (CARES), VU
Aug 1992 - Dec 2005
Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor in School of Human Movement Recreation and Performance/Physical Education and Recreation
Victoria University
Jan 1990 - Jul 1992
Lecturer, Dept. Biological Sciences, Cumberland College of Health Sciences
The University of Sydney
Jan 1986 - Dec 1986
Tutor, Dept. of Physiology
The University of Melbourne
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Dates Role & Department/Organisation
Jan 2021 -
Present
Professorial Research Fellow (Muscle and Exercise Physiology) (continuing)
Institute for Health and Sport (iHeS), VU
Jan 2018 -
Dec 2020
Executive Director, Institute for Health and Sport
Victoria University
Jan 2006 -
Dec 2020
Professor in Muscle and Exercise Physiology (Continuing position)
Victoria University
Apr 2017 -
Dec 2019
Guest Professor
Guangzhou Sport University, Guangzhou, China
Sep 2012 -
Dec 2017
Director, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Victoria University
Mar 2013 -
Dec 2015
Research Director, College of Sport and Exercise Science
Victoria University
Jan 2010 -
Aug 2012
Research Director, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Victoria University
Jan 2009 -
Dec 2009
Director
Centre for Aging, Rehabilitation, Exercise and Sport (CARES), VU
Aug 1992 -
Dec 2005
Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor in School of Human Movement Recreation and Performance/Physical Education and Recreation
Victoria University
Jan 1990 -
Jul 1992
Lecturer, Dept. Biological Sciences, Cumberland College of Health Sciences
The University of Sydney
Jan 1986 -
Dec 1986
Tutor, Dept. of Physiology
The University of Melbourne
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Awards

Year Award
2020

Vice-Chancellor’s Recognition of Outstanding Service to Victoria University - Victoria University

2016

Victoria University Centenary Medal - Victoria University

2010

Vice-Chancellor’s Peak Award for Outstanding Service to Victoria University - Victoria University

2005

Sandford L Skinner Oration (Inaugural) - Department of Physiology, University of Melbourne

2002

Recognition for Research Grant Achievement - Victoria University

1999

Vice-Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence in Research – Research Staff (Inaugural Award) - Victoria University

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Professional memberships

  • Member, Australian Physiological Society
  • Member, The American Physiology Society
  • Member, American College of Sports Medicine
  • Member, Exercise Sport Science Australia
  • Inaugural Chair and Co-Founder, Potassium sodium and the function of heart and skeletal muscle