Olivier BIROT

Associate Professor

Locations / Contact Info:

LSB 423A
Keele Campus

Email address(es):


Faculty & School/Dept.

Faculty of Health - School of Kinesiology & Health Science


Habilitation (dr. habil., HDR) - 2009
Université Claude Bernard
Lyon, France

Postdoctoral Fellowship completion - 2006
Karolinska Institutet
Stockholm, Sweden

PhD - Doctoral degree in Physiology - 2003
Université Claude Bernard
Lyon, France

MSc (DEA) - Physiology of Extreme Environments - 1998
Université Claude Bernard
Lyon, France


I am a professor of physiology in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York University.  My research and my teaching focus on exercise and muscle physiology with a particular interest in skeletal muscle angioadaptation in the context of exercise, extreme environmental conditions (altitude, cold, air pollution), and chronic pathological conditions (diabetes, obesity).

Concept of skeletal muscle angio-adaptation - Capillaries are our smallest blood vessels. They supply muscle cells with oxygen and nutrients, and represent a key determinant of skeletal muscle function. In healthy tissues, capillaries usually form a well-organized network, which is very plastic and adaptable. In response to various physiological or pathological conditions (such as exercise training, altitude, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes...), capillaries can either stabilize, grow, or regress. The concept of  "angioadaptation" refers to the coordinated molecular, cellular, and tissular events that can lead to more or less capillaries in a tissue. To study skeletal muscle angioadaptation, we use in the lab a very integrative approach, from muscle biopsy analysis to primary muscle and endothelial cell cultures.

Bio - I got into research in 1996 as a 4th year undergraduate student volunteering in Dr. Xavier Bigard's lab (Grenoble, France). I was involved in a study investigating skeletal muscle adaptation to simulated high-altitude (mitochondria biology and myosin heavy chain profile). I followed up in the same research group with a Master degree in extreme environmental physiology and a PhD degree in physiology (2003). My graduate work focused on muscle angio-adaptation during exercise and altitude exposure. After obtaining my PhD, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cellular and molecular vascular biology with Dr. Lars Holmgren at the Cancer Centrum Karolinska (CCK), a research center at the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden). During my postdoc, I changed topic, focusing on tumoral and retinal angiogenesis. In 2006, I was hired by the department of kinesiology at the Université de Montréal as an assistant professor in cardiovascular physiology, and two years later (2008) I joined York University. My research program has been funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Resarch Council of Canada (NSERC) since 2007. In 2009, I received my Habilitation from the University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France. 

Teaching - I currently teach two elective 4th year kinesiology courses: KINE 4442 and KINE 4443. They are open to 3rd year and 4th year students. I also supervise undergraduate students for independent studies and honour thesis (KINE 4060).  

  • KINE 4442, Advanced Exercise Physiology: Exercising and Surviving in Extreme Environments (Present).
  • KINE 4443, Living and performing at high altitude: The physiology of human adaptation to hypoxia (Present).
  • KINE 4450, Advanced Exercise Physiology: The cardiovascular system (2008-2017).
  • KINE 2011, Human Physiology I (2009-2018)

Aside the lab - Growing up in the Alps, between France, Italy and Switzerland, I have always been an outdoor and mountain enthusiast. This has greatly stimulated my interest for exercise and extreme environmental physiology. I enjoy hiking, trail running, climbing, backcountry skiing, and of course paddling my canoe! During my undergraduate and graduate studies, I also served for 6-7 years as a volunteer firefighter, which has also contributed to my interest for exercise physiology in extreme environments. 

Selected Publications

Full list on PUBMED:


Selected publications:

Lemieux P & Birot O. Altitude, exercise, and skeletal muscle angio-adaptive responses to hypoxia: A complex story. Front. Physiol. 2021

Aiken J, Mandel ER, Riddell MC, Birot. Hyperglycaemia correlates with skeletal muscle capillary regression and is associated with alterations in the murine double minute-2/forkhead box O1/thrombospondin-1 pathway in type 1 diabetic BioBredding rats. Diab. Vasc. Dis. Res. 16(1): 28-37, 2019.

Aiken J, Roudier E, Ciccone J, Drouin G, Stromberg A, Vojnovic J, Olfert IM, Haas T, Gustafsson T, Grenier G, Birot O. Phosphorylation of murine double minute-2 on Ser166 is downstream of VEGF-A in exercised skeletal muscle and regulates primary endothelial cell migration and FoxO gene expression. FASEB J. 30(3): 1120-34, 2016.

Egginton S & Birot O. Angiogenesis: growth points. Microcirculation 21(4); 276-277, 2014.

 Roudier E, Aiken J, Slopack Dara, Gouzi F, Mercier J, Haas TL, Gustaffson T, Hayot M, Birot, O. Novel perspective:  Exercise training stimulus triggers the expression of the oncoprotein Human Double Minute-2 in human skeletal muscle. Physiological Reports 1, 2013.

Gouzi F, Prefaut C, Abdellaoui A, Roudier E, de Rigal P, Molinari N, Laoudj-Chenivesse D, Mercier J, Birot O, Hayot M. Blunted muscle angiogenic training-response in COPD patients versus sedentary controls. European Respiratory Journal 41: 806-14, 2013. 

Roudier E, Forn P, Perry ME, Birot O. Murine Double Minute-2 is required for capillary maintenance and exercise-induced angiogenesis in skeletal muscle. FASEB Journal 26: 4530-4539, 2012.

Olfert IM & Birot O. Importance of anti-angiogenic factors in the regulation of skeletal muscle angiogenesis. Microcirculation 18(4): 316-30, 2011.

 Roudier E, Gineste C, Wazna A, Dehghan K, Desplanches D, Birot O. Angio-adaptation in unloaded skeletal muscle: New insights into an early and muscle-specific dynamic process. Journal of Physiology (London) 588: 4579-4591, 2010.

Holmgren L, Ambrosino E, Birot O, Tullus C, Veitonmäkii N, Carlson L-M, Forni G and Kiessling R. A DNA vaccine targeting the angiostatin receptor angiomotin inhibits angiogenesis and suppresses tumor growth. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103: 9208-13, 2006.



Currently available to supervise graduate students: Yes

Currently taking on work-study students, Graduate Assistants or Volunteers: No

Available to supervise undergraduate thesis projects: Yes

Current Research

Cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating tissue angio-adaptation under physiological and pathological conditions (exercise training, altitude, cold exposure, obesity, diabetes). Integrative approach from primary cell culture (muscle cells, endothelial cells from muscle, dermal, brain and lung tissues) to muscle biopsy analysis.