Dr Kirsten Coupland

Dr Kirsten Coupland | Stroke Researcher
Research Program:
Research Topics:

Research Interests

  • Glymphatics: fluid is constantly being moved around and through the brain. The flow of this fluid appears to be important in the clearing of waste products that build up during normal day-to-day function. Relatively little is known about this system, but we do know that it is intimately associated with the blood vessels of the brain. My work examines how this system functions and whether stroke disturbs this system.
  • Intracranial pressure: pressure inside the skull increases in the 24 hour period post-stroke. It is thought that this increase in pressure may damage the brain and lead to worse outcomes in terms of patient recovery. My research aims to better understand why this increase in pressure occurs and how it affects the brain.

Why did you get into research?

When I was young my favourite word was ‘why?’, and until someone could offer me a satisfactory answer I would keep asking. In research I get to ask ‘why?’ all the time, and, if no one can give me an answer, I head to the lab to figure it out.

What would be the ultimate goal of your research?

Much of what we think we know are actually assumptions. When it comes to a complex organ like the brain, that just won’t cut it. Ultimately I want to better understand how the fluid in the brain is produced, how it moves, where it goes and what it does so that we can better understand what goes wrong in a stroke, and how to better treat it.

Brief profile/Biography

Doctor Kirsten Coupland is an early-carer research fellow within the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation and the University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre in Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury. Her current research examines the molecular workings of fluid flow in the brain, with a particular focus on how it impacts on outcomes after stroke.

Dr. Coupland was awarded her PhD from the University of New South Wales in 2015. She then undertook a 3 year research fellowship at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Her research expertise is broad, covering the impact of the gene/environment axis on neurodegenerative disease risk, and the relationship between altered vascular function and memory loss. Her background in the molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases is allowing her to develop a better understanding of the mechanisms driving normal fluid flow, and what the consequences are when this system is damaged.

Future Focus

When we have a detailed understanding of the basic mechanics of a biological system, such as glymphatics, we are better equipped to predict outcomes and design interventions when things go wrong. This will ultimately lead to shorter and improved recovery for stroke sufferers.

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Confocal microscopy.
  • Real-time quantitative PCR.
  • Animal models of stroke.
  • Immunotherapy design.
  • Proximity ligation assay.
  • Mammalian cell culture.
  • Protein purification.
  • Recombinant DNA techniques.
  • Pyrosequencing.
  • Cloning.
  • DNA/RNA extraction, purification.


HMRI Brain and Mental Health Research Program

University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre for Stroke and Brain Injury

University of Newcastle Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research (CBMHR)

NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation

Karolinska Institutet