Dr Rob Wykes
Pewterers Senior Research Fellow
Clinical & Experimental Epilepsy
UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
- Joined UCL
- 1st Nov 2009
Group leader at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, UK & NanoNeuroTeam leader, Nanomedicine Lab, University of Manchester, UK. I lead 2 research labs, one in London, and the other in Manchester. My research focuses on Paroxysmal CNS disorders with a particular focus on epilepsy, and can be broadly broken down into 2 research categories: 1. Gene therapy approaches to treat drug-refractory forms of epilepsy. 2. Development and application of novel imaging and electrophysiological approaches to detect seizure activity and spreading depolarisations in preclinical models of epilepsy, migraine, glioblastoma and stroke. A recent focus is application of implantable Graphene-based transistor arrays to map pathological brain activity.
I currently teach on several UCL MSc courses (MSc in Clinical Neuroscience, MSc in Cell and Gene Therapy) and have supervised several 4 month MSc laboratory research projects as well as MSc and undergraduate library projects. I wrote and taught a series of lectures for an undergraduate physiology degree course at the University of Sheffield. I am an official trainer on several PPLs and teach surgical techniques to PhD students and post-doctoral researchers.
- University of Leicester
- Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2005
- University of Edinburgh
- First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 2000
Rob graduated from Edinburgh University with a 1st class BSc(Hons) and the class prize for Physiology. He conducted his PhD “Calmodulin regulation of calcium channels and neurotransmitter release in bovine adrenal chromaffin cells” in the department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Leicester under the supervision of Dr Liz Seward and subsequently characterised TRP channel and P2X receptor expression in human lung mast cells. He held a post-doctoral position at Northwestern University, Chicago with Prof Pavel Osten and Dr Jack Waters performing brain slice electrophysiology and 2-Photon imaging experiments to gain insight into the cellular mechanisms underlying neuronal and circuit changes in rodent models of Alzheimer’s disease. He also used viral-vector mediated expression of optogenetic constructs to selectively stimulate cholinergic axonal projections in the cortex. Returning to the UK he worked as a senior post-doctoral researcher in the department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology under the supervision of Profs Matthew Walker, Dimitri Kullmann and Stephanie Schorge. He developed several gene therapy strategies for drug-resistant epilepsy and optimised a video-telemetry system to permit long-term continuous recordings from freely moving rodents. In 2015 he was awarded a junior research fellowship from Epilepsy Research UK and developed with Dr Federico Rossi in the lab of Prof Matteo Carandini an approach to perform calcium imaging of seizures and spreading depolarisations in awake mice. In 2018 he was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship funded by the Worshipful Company of Pewterers and started his independent laboratory and research group. He was selected as a partner on the EU Graphene Flagship project Core 2 developing the methodology for both acute and chronic implantation of graphene transistor arrays for recording full bandwidth neuronal activity in awake rodents. In 2019 he was invited to join the International League Against Epilepsy / American Epilepsy Society TASK Force. In 2020 he renewed his partnership on the EU Graphene Flagship (Core 3). He joined the Nanomedicine lab at Manchester University in May 2020 as a part-time senior lecturer and NanoNeuro team leader. His labs at UCL and Manchester utilise implanted graphene based technologies (transistor arrays and stimulating electrodes) to gain a better understanding of neurological disease pathology and to offer novel therapeutic options. He continues to work on gene therapy approaches for CNS disorders.