Katie Wilkinson

Katie WilkinsonProfessor of Biological Sciences
Wilkinson Neurophysiology Lab


  • B.S. Neuroscience & B.A. History, University of Pittsburgh, 2004
  • Ph.D. Biomedical Sciences, University of California, San Diego, 2009
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in Research and Scientific Teaching, Emory University, 2009-2012

Courses Taught

  • BIOL 30:   Principles of Biology I
  • BIOL 136: Vertebrate Neurophysiology
  • BIOL 167: Cardiorespiratory Physiology
  • BIOL 178: Integrative Physiology
  • BIOL 220: Scientific Communication
  • BIOL 255P: Advanced Graduate Seminar on Pain

Science Policy Blog

Active Learning Teaching Resources [docx]

Research Interests

The Wilkinson Lab is interested in understanding how your body senses information from the environment. We study neurons in the muscle that sense muscle length and movement–the muscle spindle afferents. These neurons innervate the muscle spindle sense organs and are the sensory component of the muscle stretch reflex. These neurons are also 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 translate muscle stretch into action potentials and what causes these neurons to malfunction. 

* Students interested in my research lab are encouraged to contact me. Please include your transcripts, resume, and a few paragraphs about your career goals and why you want to work in my lab in particular. Wilkinson Lab Website. I do not accept high school students to work in the lab.


S. Ma, A.E. Dubin, L.O. Romero, M. Loud, A. Salazar*, S. Chu*, N. Klier*, S. Masri*, Y. Zhang, Y. Wang, A.T. Chesler, K.A. Wilkinson, V. Vasquez, K.L. Marshall, A. Patapoutian. (2023). Excessive mechanotransduction in sensory neurons causes joint contractures. Science 379 (6628): 201-206. Doi: 10.1126/science.add3598.

C.M. Espino, C.M. Lewis, S. Ortiz*, M.S. Dalal, K.M. Wells, D.A. O’Neil, K.A. Wilkinson, T.N. Griffith (2022). NaV1.1 in mammalian sensory neurons is required for normal motor behaviors. eLife, 11:e79917. PMC9640190

K.A. Wilkinson (2022). Molecular Determinants of mechanosensation in the muscle spindle. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 74. Available online 4/14/22, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conb.2022.102542.

K. Than#, E. Kim#, C. Navarro#, S. Chu*, N. Klier*, A. Occiano*, S. Ortiz*, A. Salazar*, S.R. Valdespino*, N.K. Villegas*, K.A. Wilkinson* (2021). Vesicle-Released Glutamate is Necessary to Maintain Muscle Spindle Afferent Excitability but Not Dynamic Sensitivity in Adult Mice. J Physiol, 599: 2953-2967. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP281182

Accompanying Perspectives Article: G.S. Bewick & R.W. Banks (2021). Spindles are doin’ it for themselves: Glutamatergic autoexcitation in muscle spindles. J Physiol, 599: 2781-2783. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP281624.

K.A. Wilkinson (2020). Methodological advances for studying gamma motor neurons. Current Opinion in Physiology, 19: 135-140. Available online 10/14/20, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cophys.2020.10.002.

G.L. Nguyen#, S. Putnam#, M. Haile*, Z. Raza*, M. Bremer., & K.A. Wilkinson (2019). Diet‐induced obesity decreases rate‐dependent depression in the Hoffmann’s reflex in adult mice. Physiological reports, 7(20), e14271. https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.14271. PMC6818099.

L. Gerwin, C. Haupt, K. A. Wilkinson, and S. Kröger. (2019). Acetylcholine receptors in the equatorial region of intrafusal muscle fibers modulate mouse muscle spindle sensitivity. J Physiol, 597: 1993-2006.  https://doi.org/10.1113/JP277139. PMC6441882

              Accompanying Perspectives Article: Papaioannou, S., & Dimitriou, M. (2020). Muscle spindle function in muscular dystrophy: a potential target for therapeutic intervention. Journal of Physiology, 598(8), 1433-1434.

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. PMC6121120.

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. PMC5931673.

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.

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.

K.A. Wilkinson, H.E. Kloefkorn*, S. Hochman (2012) Characterization of Muscle Spindle Afferents in the Adult Mouse Using an In Vitro Muscle-Nerve Preparation. PLoS ONE 7(6): e39140. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039140 

* denotes undergraduate researcher # MS researcher