Patrick Whelan


Comparative Biology & Experimental Medicine

Full Member

Hotchkiss Brain Institute

B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science)

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Contact information


Office: 403.220.4210

Web presence



Office : HSC2038

Research and teaching

Research areas

  • Movement Disorders
  • Spinal Cord / Nerve Injury & Pain

Research activities

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.