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Welcome to the Whelan lab!
Our lab is situated in the Foothill Campus at the University of Calgary in the city of Calgary.

Our work centers on understanding the mechanisms that promote walking. Our work is relevant to many medical conditions where gait is affected including spinal cord injury, stroke and MS. We know that rehabilitation can induce plasticity in brain circuits at the level of the spinal cord and brain. We are interested in understanding the structure and function of brain circuits and in testing drugs that activate these centres. We also are interested in controlling neuropathic pain and understanding how pathological effects of pain on walking can be controlled. Gait rehabilitation and pain control represent two major areas of brain dysfunction that greatly impact the quality of life for those afflicted.

We have a cells to systems approach in our lab to understand these complex problems. This allows us to perform intracellular recordings of identified cells in brain circuits in brain tissue and then in separate experiments to examine the effects of activating these cells using optogenetic light based approaches in awake behaving animals. We have multiple projects in the lab that can be tailored to suit trainees from summer students to postdoctoral fellows. Our trainees have access to state of the art facilities within the lab and in the Regeneration Unit in Neurology which is a recently opened $4 million facility with advanced microscopy (multiphoton, laser capture, slide scanner units) and behavioral facilities. Training within RUN is provided by dedicated support personnel. Finally our lab is part of the HALO initiative at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute which offers journal clubs, equipment, and support personnel for optogenetics. 

For those of you interested in training with us, us we offer several value added services which will enrich your training experience:

  • UNDERGRADUATE: Undergraduate students are automatically enrolled in the Sure program and in the Hotchkiss Brain Institute program. Collectively these offer training in lab techniques, scientific presentations, library skills, and much more.
  • GRADUATE: On the graduate education side we offer a training program that in addition to working in the lab allows you to extend your skills so that you are positioned for jobs inside and outside academia. This program is called REALISE and includes modules that cover everything from knowledge translation to career opportunities. This is in addition to MyGradSkills program offered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. In addition our trainees have been regularly supported by "Learn from the Best" awards allowing them to travel to France, Cold Springs Harbor, and North Carolina to learn new skills. 
  • POSTDOCTORAL: Postdoctoral fellows belong to their own organization and to the HBITO. They also have full access to the REALISE program.
  • ALL TRAINEES: In addition all trainees are members of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute Training Organization (HBITO) which organizes journal clubs, social events, orientation for new students. This organization is directly funded by the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and run entirely by trainees. All of our trainees can access facilities within both the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine offering a unique one health environment. 

We invite you to look through this website and if you are interested in joining us or require more information to get in contact with Dr. Patrick Whelan. 

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Dr. Patrick Whelan, Ph.D.

Professor, Hotchkiss Brain Institute

Department of Comparative Biology and Experimental Medicine

Jointly Appointed in: Faculties of Veterinary Medicine & Medicine & Kinesiology

HSC 2119 University of Calgary

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Office: (403) 220-4210

Lab: (403) 220-8427

Fax: (403) 283-2700




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