Dr Jesse Louis Ashton

BE (Hons) ME (Hons)


Jesse has Bachelor of Engineering, Master of Engineering, and Doctor of Philosophy (to be conferred) degrees in Bioengineering from the University of Auckland. His research to date has focused on nervous system control of heart rhythm and the mechanisms that contribute to development of cardiac arrhythmias. His particular strengths are in electrophysiological measurement, imaging and microscopy, data analysis, image processing, software development and computational modelling. The overall goal of his research is to develop new technologies to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of neurogenic cardiac arrhythmias.

Research | Current

Jesse's current postdoctoral research with A/Prof. Montgomery is focussed on determining how changes in the communication within the network of neurons that innervate the heart can contribute to triggering episodes of atrial fibrillation in the context of hypertension and heart failure.  Mechanisms that alter neuronal function and neurotransmission in heart failure have been identified but little is known about the properties of the connections – termed ‘synapses’ – formed by intracardiac neurons.  Our novel hypothesis is that changes in the structure and function at these synapses alter autonomic tone to the heart and enhance the likelihood of atrial arrhythmia.


Research group

Synaptic Function Research Group

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Winbo, A., Ashton, J. L., & Montgomery, J. M. (2020). Neuroscience in the heart: Recent advances in neurocardiac communication and its role in cardiac arrhythmias. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 122.10.1016/j.biocel.2020.105737
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Johanna Montgomery
  • Agrawal, S., Ramlugun, G., Jamart, K., Kennelly, J., Ashton, J., Sands, G., ... Zhao, J. (2019). Structural Basis of Atrial Arrhythmogenesis in Metabolic Syndrome. Computing in Cardiology. 10.23919/CinC49843.2019.9005899
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gregory Sands
  • Zhou, K. Q., Draghi, V., Lear, C. A., Dean, J. M., Ashton, J. L., Hou, Y., ... Davidson, J. O. (2019). Protection of axonal integrity with 48 or 72 h of cerebral hypothermia in near-term fetal sheep. Pediatric research, online first10.1038/s41390-019-0475-8
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/47947
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alistair Gunn, Kelly Zhou, Christopher Lear, Justin Dean, Laura Bennet
  • Ashton, J. L., Trew, M. L., LeGrice, I. J., Paterson, D. J., Paton, J. F., Gillis, A. M., & Smaill, B. H. (2019). Shift of leading pacemaker site during reflex vagal stimulation and altered electrical source-to-sink balance. The Journal of physiology10.1113/jp276876
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Julian Paton, Mark Trew, Ian LeGrice, Bruce Smaill
  • Ashton, J. L., Sands, G. B., Khwaounjoo, P., Ramlugun, G. S., Trew, M. L., Walton, R. D., ... Smaill, B. H. (2019). Cellular Electrical Coupling in the Human Heart: An Image-Based Analysis Pipeline. Paper presented at Heart Rhythm 40th Scientific Sessions, San Francisco, CA. 8 May - 11 May 2019. Heart Rhythm. 10.1016/j.hrthm.2019.04.020
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gregory Sands, Mark Trew, David Baddeley
  • Ashton, J. L., Burton, R. A. B., Bub, G., Smaill, B. H., & Montgomery, J. M. (2018). Synaptic Plasticity in Cardiac Innervation and Its Potential Role in Atrial Fibrillation. Frontiers in physiology, 910.3389/fphys.2018.00240
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Smaill, Johanna Montgomery
  • Ashton, J. L., Le Grice, I. J., Paterson, D. J., Paton, J. F. R., Trew, M. L., Gillis, A. M., & Smaill, B. H. (2017). Shift of dominant pacemaker site during reflex vagal stimulation is the result of propagation failure. Paper presented at Heart Rhythm Society 38th Annual Scientific Sessions, Chicago, USA. 10 May - 13 May 2017. Heart Rhythm. 10.1016/j.hrthm.2017.04.010
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/36683
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Ian LeGrice, David Paterson, Julian Paton, Mark Trew, Bruce Smaill
  • Ashton, J. L. (2016). Autonomic reflex control of dominant pacemaker location and impulse propagation in the right atrium The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34237


Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 503 - Bldg 503
Level 5, Room 501
New Zealand

Web links