Professor Michael McKinley
BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, DSc, Florey Emeritus Fellow

Parkville Campus
30 Royal Parade
Parkville Victoria 3052

Research group
Autonomic Neuroscience Group

Headshot_Michael McKinley


Michael McKinley came to The Florey in 1969 as a Bachelor of Science (Honours) student. After gaining MSc and PhD degrees, he continued as a staff member from 1974. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm (1978–1979), held an NHMRC Fellowship at the Florey (1980–2011) and is now Emeritus Fellow. In addition, he was a visiting Professor at the Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany (2005) and the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bologna (2018).

Michael has made contributions in regard to the brain’s control of body salt and water balance, the cardiovascular system, thermoregulation and the immune system. They include designation of the subfornical organ and organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis as the sites in the brain of the osmoreceptors regulating thirst and secretion of antidiuretic hormone (vasopressin), identification of the osmoreceptor neurons, and mapping of their efferent neural pathways within the brain mediating these physiological responses.

In recent years he, together with Robin McAllen and Davide Martelli, have identified the splanchnic sympathetic nerve as the major anti-inflammatory sympathetic nerve that mediates a reflex dampening of the innate immune response to blood-borne infection, thereby helping to prevent dangerous levels of systemic inflammation.

Career highlights

Current roles

  • Emeritus Fellow

Past roles

  • NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow (1997–2011)
  • Associate Director, Howard Florey Institute (1997–2003)
  • Professorial Fellow, Department of Physiology, University of Melbourne (2003–2008)

Awards and achievements

  • 2004 — Plenary Lecturer, World Congress of Neurohypophyseal Hormones, Kyoto, Japan
  • 1998 — Doctor of Science, University of Melbourne
  • 1995 — Stellar Lecturer, Institute of Neurological Sciences, University of Pennsylvania
  • 1978 — C.J. Martin Fellowship, NHMRC


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