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Professor Steve Harridge

Harridge,Steve140x180Steve Harridge is Professor of Human & Applied Physiology and Director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences (CHAPS). He has a multidisciplinary research interest in human skeletal muscle function and plasticity, with particular regard to ageing. He is a member of the editorial board of Experimental Physiology and a member of the Scientific Committee of the European College of Sports Science. He is Co-Director of the MSc in Aviation Medicine

He obtained his PhD at the University of Birmingham and then undertook post-doctoral work with Professor Bengt Saltin at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm and at the Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Denmark. He then moved to a Lectureship position in the University Department of Geriatric Medicine at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and subsequently to the Department of Physiology at University College London where he held Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship and Senior Lectureship positions. He took up his appointment at King’s in 2005.

King's Research Portal

Research group

  • Dr Cristiana Velloso (post-doc)
  • Dr Tolis Galantis (visiting researcher)
  • Professor Norman Lazarus (Emeritus)
  • Mansour Alsharidah (PhD Student)
  • Chibeza Agley (PhD Student)
  • Alec Stevenson (PhD Student)
  • Dr Zudin Puthucheary (PhD student, with Dr Nick Hart & Prof Hugh Montgomery, UCL)

Previous Lab members

  • Dr Tomasz George

Research interests

My research group has a wide ranging interest the function and plasticity of human skeletal muscle, with a particular interest in ageing.

The loss of muscle mass (sarcopaenia) and function as we get older is one the key changes that occur in later life as we get older. Sarcopaenia is strongly associated with the decline in the ability of older people to physical task for everyday living and is a key predictor of falls.

We have an ongoing interest in a number of the different factors which may play a role in regulating mass and function and which may change with age. Muscle “satellite cells” (myoblasts) for instance are needed for muscle repair and ultimately for hypertrophy. We are using cell culture approaches to study the behaviour of human satellite cells in vitro. Their myogenic potential is regulated by factors such as Wnt signaling which we are currently investigating.

High resistance strength training is the most effective means of ameliorating the effects of sarcopaenia, whilst inactivity and disuse are confounding factors in interpreting the effects of the human ageing process generally from lifestyle factors. Indeed, master athletes are arguably the most appropriate model to use to study the inherent human ageing process.

In combination with studies of ageing muscle my group is interested in the mechanism involved in regulating muscle loss with disuse (spinal cord injury) and in critical illness.

Current projects

  • Factors which affect human myoblast behaviour in vitro (with PhD Student Mansour Alsharidah & Dr Cristiana Velloso – Funded by Al-Qassim University, Saudi Arabia.)
  • Mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle loss in ITU patients (with Dr Zudin Puthucheary Dr Nick Hart, , Professor Hugh Montgomery & Dr Anthea Rowlerson – NIHR Fellowship and BRC funded)
  • The role of Wnt signaling in the behaviour of young old human myoblasts (with PhD student Chibezza Agley, Dr Cristiana Velloso & Professor Pip Francis-West – KCL studentship).
  • Development of new methods for studying human single fibre contractility against inertial & gravitational loads (with Dr Tolis Galantis)
  • Mechanisms of adaptation in spinal cord injured subjects undergoing functional electrical stimulation training (With Professor Di Newham, Professor Nick Donaldson (UCL) and Dr Anthea Rowlerson – Inspire funded)
  • Development of appropriate models for the study of the physiology of human ageing. (with Professor Norman Lazarus)
  • Effects of high Gz and hypoxia on cerebral blood flow (with PhD Student Alec Stevenson & Professor Mike Bagshaw, Qinetiq / MOD funded)


Resistance training increases muscle mass even in very elderly people. Satellite cells are needed for hypertrophy and repair and are shown proliferating (upper panel) in culture and differentiating into myotubes (lower panel). Cells were extracted from a muscle biopsy taken from a young individual with cultured in the presence of human serum taken from an elderly individual to examine the effect of environmental factors on their behavior. Sscale bar = 100µm for both.


Muscle is lost dramatically in intensive care patients. To understand this phenomenon, changes in muscle size and quality are being coupled to the signalling drivers for muscle protein synthesis and degradation (e.g. MafBx) in these patients.

Harridge3As they are free from the benign complications of disuse, master athletes are an appropriate model to study the physiology of human ageing.



Publications: 2007 -

Attached files
Professor Steve Harridge's publications (pdf, 35 KB)

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