The Wilkinson Lab

CroppedPicThe Wilkinson Lab studies sensory plasticity. Muscles contain neurons which sense muscle length and movement and are the main contributors to the sense of body position and movement, or proprioception. Alterations to these sensory neurons can lead to movement and balance problems. Our lab is interested in understanding how these neurons transduce muscle stretch into action potentials and what causes these neurons to malfunction.

The Wilkinson Lab is an incredibly team oriented lab with Dr. Wilkinson as the Principle Investigator (PI) and mentor to all undergraduate students. Dr. Wilkinson also allows opportunities for Master’s students to take initiative and manage many projects in the lab, creating a collaborative environment between Master’s students and Undergraduates. This type of environment allows undergraduates to learn laboratory techniques while being able to ask questions and ask Master’s students for guidance and advice on their academic careers and choices. Master’s students are key team leaders and mentors in this lab, ensuring that training of undergraduates to become leaders in the lab once they become upper division students.

Current Objective: Our current research has been divided into 4 key aspects over a 4 year period. On the final stages of our research, we have been working on perfecting a technique to specifically stimulate gamma motor neurons using light stimulus, an optogenetic approach.  Additionally, the Wilkinson lab is currently working on analyzing the data we have collected in order to present our findings in a concise scientific manner.

This lab is a very proactive lab and is not a “one project” lab. This lab collaborates with laboratories in other Universities and researchers to create a very strong approach to gather findings. There are definitely opportunities for you to find a team that fits for you in our lab.

To learn more about our research, check out our latest papers:

D. Zaytseva, A. Allawala, J.A. Franco, S. Putnam, A. M. Abtahie, N. Bubalo, C.R. Criddle, T.A. Nguyen, P. Nguyen, S. Padmanabhan, P. Sanghera, T. Abramson, M. Bremer, K.A. Wilkinson. (2018) Lipopolysaccharide‐induced inflammation does not alter muscle spindle afferent mechanosensation or sensory integration in the spinal cord of adult mice. Physiological Reports 6 (17), 2018, e13812, https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.13812

L.S. Elahi, K.N. Shamai, A. M. Abtahie, A.M. Cai, S. Padmanabhan, M. Bremer, K.A. Wilkinson. (2018) Diet induced obesity alters muscle spindle afferent function in adult mice. PLoS ONE 13(5): e0196832. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196832

S-H. Woo, V. Lukacs, J.C. de Nooij, D. Zaytseva, C.R. Criddle, A. Francisco, T.M. Jessell, K.A. Wilkinson, A. Patapoutian (2015) Piezo2 is the principal mechanotransduction channel for proprioception. Nat. Neurosci. (18), 1756-1762. Chosen as cover article.

J.A. Franco, H.E. Kloefkorn, S. Hochman, K.A. Wilkinson (2014) An In Vitro Adult Mouse Muscle-nerve Preparation for Studying the Firing Properties of Muscle Afferents. J. Vis. Exp. (91), e51948, doi:10.3791/51948.