The International Society for Microneurography Inc.   Registered as a Not-For-Profit Incorporated Association in Victoria, Australia, on March 30, 2024. Reg. A0122777S

Welcome to 

The International 

Society for

Microneurography


The aim of the Society is to promote the utility of microneurography, to share knowledge and to foster collaboration


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A Brief History of Microneurography

Microneurography – the means of recording action potentials from groups of axons, or individual axons, via a tungsten microelectrode inserted percutaneously into an accessible nerve in awake humans  – was developed by Karl-Erik Hagbarth and Åke Vallbo in the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology at the University Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden in 1965. Trialling different metal microelectrodes and types of insulation, they performed multiple attempts to record from their own nerves, with their first publication coming out in 1967. Their original aim, which was certainly ambitious in scope, was to record from muscle spindle afferents. The rationale was to address the prevailing idea of motor control at the time – the follow-up length servo control theory of muscle contraction, in which it was postulated that the contraction of skeletal muscle is brought about by activating gamma motoneurones, which in turn caused contraction of the intrafusal muscles fibres, a resultant increase in muscle spindle afferent input to the spinal cord and reflex activation of alpha motoneurones. Although initially satisfied with the information that multi-unit recordings of muscle spindles could provide, which they published in 1968, to their surprise they managed to impale the sensory axons of individual muscle spindle endings, and to record action potentials from single spindle afferents during muscle stretch and during voluntary contractions. They published their first study on this work  in 1969. The servo control theory of muscle contraction, established on the basis of experiments conducted in the anaesthetized cat in 1953, was demolished by data obtained by Åke Vallbo in 1971: his recordings of muscle spindle afferents during slow or brisk voluntary contractions showed that muscle spindles are not activated before alpha motoneurones but, rather, their discharge reflects co-activation of fusimotor and skeletomotor neurones .
Recordings from human muscle spindles have contributed significantly to clinical neurology – such as the demonstration that augmented spinal reflexes, seen in spasticity, do not depend on an increase in fusimotor drive to muscle spindles. We have also learnt much about tactile perception from recordings of cutaneous mechanoreceptors, and uncovered the neurophysiological basis of affective touch, but its most widespread application has been to increase our understanding of the sympathetic nervous system, disorders of which feature in many diseases. When Hagbarth and Vallbo first heard over the loudspeakers the sound of  “waves approaching the distant shore,” thinking they were artifacts, the identity of these waves as bursts of sympathetic nerve activity has generated thousands of studies that have taken advantage of the capacity to record action potentials directly from unmyelinated post-ganglionic sympathetic axons in awake humans.
The early Swedish development of microneurography was further pushed by Gunnar Wallin , who worked extensively on recordings of sympathetic nerve activity to muscle and skin in health and disease, Erik Torebjörk, who committed his efforts to recordings from cutaneous nociceptors and developed the means of tracking individual C-fibres from activity-dependent slowing of conduction, and Roland Johansson, who – at The University of Umeå – characterised the properties of cutaneous mechanoreceptors and their roles in sensorimotor control of the hand. Rolf Hallin, initially within the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology in Uppsala, and then at The Karolinska Institute, is known for developing concentric needle microneurography – embedding multiple fine wires in a concentric needle to record from multiple units concurrently. 
While most microneurographic recordings are made with monopolar tungsten microelectrodes from accessible peripheral nerves – such as the median, ulnar or radial nerves in the upper arm, the median or ulnar nerves at the wrist, the femoral nerve at the hip, the tibial or common peroneal nerves at the knee, and the sural or posterior tibial nerves at the ankle – recordings have also been made from some cranial nerves: the facial nerve, the inferior alveolar, supraorbital and infraorbital branches of the trigeminal nerve, and, most recently, the cervical vagus nerve. 

It is  over half a century since microneurography was first developed. Since then, the technique has spread to laboratories throughout the world, including The United States of America, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

It shows no sign of slowing down, and it is up to us to ensure that it continues to be used to address unanswered questions.

Vaughan G Macefield, Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Karl-Erik Hagbarth

1926-2005

Karl-Erik Hagbarth completed his medical degree and PhD in neurophysiology at the Nobel Institute of Neurophysiology in Stockholm, and founded the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology at Uppsala University Hospital in 1958, and was appointed to the first Chair of Clinical Neurophysiology in Sweden in 1973 – a position he held until 1991. In addition to microneurography, Karl-Erik Hagbarth contributed significantly to the study of human reflexes and motor control, and leaves a rich legacy to the field of clinical neurophysiology.

Åke B Vallbo

1933-

Åke Vallbo completed his medical degree and PhD in neurophysiology at the Nobel Institute of Neurophysiology in Stockholm, and joined Karl-Erik Hagbarth in the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology at Uppsala University Hospital in 1965. In 1969 he moved to the Department of Physiology at The University of  Umeå, where he further developed microneurography – including designing a new amplifier – before joining the Department of Physiology at The University of Gothenburg in 1989.

Comprehensive Microneurography Course

June 10-21 2024, Prato, Italy

REGISTRATION HAS NOW CLOSED

PRE-REGISTRANTS MAY NOW PAY BELOW

The International Society for Microneurography, in partnership with The School of Translational Medicine at Monash University and ADInstruments, will be holding a comprehensive hands-on microneurography course in June 2024.

The two-week course will include lectures on how to access different peripheral and cranial nerves with microneurography, discussion on the different types of neural signals one can obtain with microneurography, and the different approaches to analysis. The first week will be dedicated to recording from afferent axons, the second week to efferent axons. Practical hands-on instruction in the technique will be provided in both weeks.

The course will be taught by an international faculty of leading experts in microneurography and suit those with no experience of microneurography as well as those with experience wishing to explore different aspects of the technique. 

The course will be held at Monash Prato Centre, located in the picturesque city of Prato in Tuscany – 30 minutes by train from Florence. Take a virtual tour of the Centre here.

The course cost is 1500 Euro for two weeks, or 750 Euro for one week, and includes morning and afternoon teas and lunches. Accommodation is not included but a comprehensive list of local accomodation can be found here.

Spaces are limited to 40 participants in each week so please complete the Registration Form and submit with COURSE and YOUR NAME in the subject line here.

While we cannot guarantee that places will become available, late registrations will be placed on a waitlist.

The payment portal is NOW OPEN. Please note that payment will be in Australian dollars: EUR750=AUD1250

Vale Sliman Bensmaia

1973-2023 

I am shocked to learn of the sudden death of Sliman Bensmaia, who I had met for the first time at a conference in Lisbon in February of this year. We hit it off immediately – he was such an engaging and funny guy and I instantly liked him.

Sliman was the James and Karen Frank Family Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. He worked in the tactile system – studying how sensory information about touch, texture, and the shape of objects is encoded by tactile afferents and the brain, applying this knowledge to providing a sense of touch to prosthetic limbs. He also worked on brain-machine interfaces.

Sliman's energetic character, and his contributions to sensory neuroscience will be greatly missed.

Vale Erik Torebjörk

1939-2021 

Erik Torebjörk studied medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and at the University of Umeå. He started his postgraduate work in Karl-Erik Hagbarth's group in Uppsala 1968 and his PhD was awarded in 1974. He was appointed Consultant in Clinical Neurophysiology at the University Hospital of Uppsala from 1974–1981 and became Associate Professor of Clinical Neurophysiology. In 1988, he was awarded a Personal Chair as Professor of Clinical Pain Research. 

Erik Torebjörk pioneered the study of human C-fibre afferents using microneurography, studying the properties of nociceptors responsible for the sensations of pain and itch. His contributions to our understanding of human nociception are enormous.

 Microneurography laboratories across the world

The Olausson Lab

Linköping University, Sweden

Head of Lab: Håkan Olausson

Team Members: Ewa Jarocka, Johan Nikesjö, Houria Manouze

Research Projects: Microneurography studies on unmyelinated low-threshold mechanoreceptors and large myelinated high-threshold mechanoreceptors

Taking students? Yes

Sense of Touch and Bionics

Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), Australia

Head of Lab: Ingvars Birznieks 

Team Members: Richard Vickery, Alwin So, Alastair Loutit, Naqash Afzal, Ismail Devecioğlu, Deepak Sharma, Kevin Ng

Research Projects: 1. Neural coding in sense of touch; 2. Decoding neural signals; 3. Hand dexterity and object manipulation; 4. Skin mechanics; Image processing

Taking students?  Yes

Thermal and Vascular Physiology Laboratory

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas

Head of Lab: Craig Crandall

Team Members: Caitlin Jarrard, Zach McKenna, and Whitley Atkins

Research Projects: Effects of analgesics on hemorrhage tolerance; Assess thermal and cardiovascular consequences of severe burn injuries; Cardiovascular consequences of extreme weather events in the elderly.

Taking students? Not currently, but occasionally looking for post-doctoral fellows

CardioNomics Lab

University of Bristol, UK

Head of Lab: Emma Hart

Team Members: Angus Nightingale, Ana Abdala, Hazel Blythe, Lydia Simpson, Katrina Hope, Ben Chant

Research Projects: 1. The role of the carotid body in HFpEF and sympathoexcitation; 2. Does iron infusion decrease SNA in patients with iron deficiency and HFrEF? 3. The role of the carotid chemoreflex in long COVID; 4. Is autonomic control of the circulation disrupted in long COVID?; 5. Cerebral blood flow and hypertension: the role of the SNS etc. 

Taking students?: Yes - MSc, MD and PhD students

Dimitriou Lab

Department of Integrative Medical Biology, University of Umeå, Sweden

Head of Lab: Michael Dimitriou

Team Members: Frida Torell,  Anders Bäckström, Carola Hjälten 

Research Projects: see link

Taking students? Not currently

The Kansas Neural Cardiovascular Control Laboratory

University of Kansas Medical Center, USA

Head of Lab: Seth W. Holwerda

Projects: 1. Sympathetic control of the vasculature in obesity-hypertension; 2. Sympathetic control of pain in chronic back pain

Taking students? Yes

Autonomic Function Laboratory

Baylor University, Waco, USA

Head of Lab: Jason R. Carter

Team Members: Jeremy A. Bigalke, Jennifer R. Bigalke

Research Projects:  1. Insomnia and sympathetic neural activity in humans; 2. Sympathetic and cardiovascular reactivity to psychosocial stress

Taking students: Yes

Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine

EURAC Research, Bolzano, Italy

Head of Lab: Christoph Siebenmann

Team Members: Christoph Siebenmann

Research Projects: Projects investigating the mechanisms underlying hypoxia-induced changes in autonomic control

Taking students? Not currently 

Integrative Sensorimotor Neuroscience Lab

University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Head of Lab: Ryan Peters

Team Members: Daniel Hodgson, Jordan King

Research Projects: Upper- and lower-limb muscle spindles; fusimotor system; cutaneous receptors

Taking students? Not currently

Human Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory

University of Guelph, Canada

Head of Lab: Philip Millar

Team Members: Kevin McCarthy, Julian Bommarito, Sydney Hilton, Ethan Wilson, Pardeep Khangura, Tanvir Matharu

Research Projects:  1. Sympathetic neurovascular transduction in health and disease; 2. Effects of cannabis on the neural control of blood pressure; 3. Neural contributions to an exaggerated blood pressure responses to exercise; 4. Acute nutritional interventions on sympathetic activity and sympathetic vasoconstrictor responsiveness

Taking students: Yes – MSc, PhD, and Postdoctoral Fellows

Human Autonomic Neurophysiology Laboratory

Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Head of Lab: Vaughan Macefield

Team Members: David Farmer, Donggyu Rim, Brendan McCarthy, Rebecca Wong, Mikaela Patros, Rebecca Glarin, Gianni Sesa-Ashton

Research Projects: 1. How the brain controls blood pressure, studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain and concurrent recordings of muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA); 2. How the brain processes orofacial pain in migraine and chronic regional pain syndrome; 3. Effects of long-lasting muscle pain on MSNA; effects of epilepsy on sympathetic nerve activity; 4. Microelectrode recordings from the human vagus nerve   

Taking students? Yes

AG Namer Laboratory

University hospital of the RWTH Aachen, Germany

Head of Lab: Barbara Namer

Team Members: Andrea Fiebig

Research Projects: 1. Neuropathic pain in human: dissect peripheral mechanisms for neuropathic pain in humans; 2. How is itch signalled in humans in contrast to pain?; 3. "Open MNG lab" : development of an open source framework for MNG data organization and analysis including meta-data organization according to the FAIR principles

Taking students? Yes

SomatoSense Lab

CNRS – Aix-Marseille University, France

Head of Lab: Rochelle Ackerley

Team Members: Jean-Marc Aimonetti, Roger H. Watkins, Mariama Dione, Maria Rosa Bufo, Leonard Samain-Aupic, Sophia Faresse, Sarah Bonnet

Research Projects: 1. Studies into mechano-receptive A-beta and C-fiber afferent properties (texture, wetness, pleasantness); 2. Intra-neural microstimulation of mechanoreceptive A-beta afferents; 3. Sympathetic responses during affective (un/pleasant) touch; 4. Development of microneurography equipment and software.

Taking Students? Yes

Microneurography Unit

Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Kings College, London, UK

Head of Lab: Jordi Serra

Team Members: Ana Ribeiro, Shaz Hadavi

Research Projects: Microneurography as a clinical tool

Taking students? Yes, visiting students

Women's Heart Health Laboratory

Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern, USA

Head of Lab: Qi Fu

Team Members: John Adkins, Sarah Hissen, Takuro Washio, Anna Geib, Lauren Houston, Monique Roberts-Reeves, Skyler Robles

Research Projects: 1, Obesity and Sleep Apnea in Pregnancy; 2. Chronic Lower Leg Heating for the Treatment of Hypertension in Older Women; 3. Mechanisms of Exercise Intolerance in Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction (HFpEF): Autonomic Circulatory Control; 4. Influence of Early Menopause on Sympathetic Activation and Cardiovascular Function in Older Women

Taking students? Yes

Liverpool Microneurography Labs

Liverpool John Moores University and University of Liverpool, UK

Lab Contacts: David Low & Andy Marshall

Team Members: David Low, Adarsh Makdani, Andrew Marshall, Anne Marshall, Francis McGlone, Warren Moore, Tori Sprung

Research Projects: 1. Neural coding of touch, temperature, pain, and itch in healthy and clinical populations; 2. Control of sympathetic nerves in health and disease.

Taking Students? Not currently

N2 Lab - Microneurography and Microneurostimulation Laboratory

Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy

Scientific Responsibles: Calogero Oddo (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna), Lorenza Pratali (National Research Council of Italy), Michele Emdin (Fondazione Toscana Gabriele Monasterio), Stefano Taddei (University of Pisa), Carmelo Chisari (Pisa University Hospital)

Team Members: Alberto Giannoni, Paolo Sciarrone, Francesco Gentile, Eleonora Degl’Innocenti, Alessandro Navari, Stefania D’Alise, Noemi Fragapane, Marta Bellini, Alberto Mazzoni, Giacomo D’Alesio, Lars Stumpp, Marian Statache, Sara Ballanti, Mariangela Filosa, Martina Giancane, Francesco Iberite, Hanna Schrerer, Solaiman Shokur, Stefano Masi, Claudio Passino, Fabio Recchia, Silvestro Micera, Vaughan Macefield

Research Projects: 1. TUscany NEtwork for BioElectronic Approaches in Medicine: AI-based predictive algorithms for fine-tuning of electroceutics treatments in neurological, cardiovascular and endocrinological diseases (Tuscany Region TUNE-BEAM); 2. Biorobotics Research and Innovation Engineering Facilities (PNRR BRIEF); 3. A multiscale integrated approach to the study of the nervous system in health and disease (PNRR MNESYS); 4. Tuscany Health Ecosystem (PNRR THE); 5. Proximity Care (Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca); 6. PRO3 CRONONC-Lab (Italian Ministry of Universities and Research)

Taking Students? Yes

Cardiovascular Research and Rehabilitation Lab (CRRL)

University of Minnesota, USA

Head of Lab: Manda Keller-Ross

Team Members: Emma Lee, Marnie Vanden Noven, William Stokes, Chowdhury Tasnova Tahsin, Miguel Anselmo, Stephany Nathe, Ella Koebernick, Tram Tran, Insia Kizilbas

Research Projects: 1. Research Evaluating Vagal Excitation and Anatomical Linkages; 2. K01 Autonomic Blood Pressure Regulation in Premature and Early Menopause; 3. CE Stand Minnesota Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program; 4. R21 Vasomotor symptoms of menopause and cardiovascular disease: What is the link between autonomic regulation and vasomotor symptoms?

Taking Students? Not currently

Cardiovascular Health and Autonomic Regulation Lab (CHARLab)

McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

Lab Head: Charlotte Usselman

Team Members: Yasmine Coovadia, Laila Chaudhry, Jinan Saboune, Brittany Schwende, Danielle Berbrier, Keila Turino Miranda  

Research Projects: 1. examining the neurovascular control of blood pressure with specialty in understanding effects of sex, gender, and gonadal hormones on our outcomes of interest, including the study of: sex differences; 2. interactions between pain and sympathetic outflow; 3. impacts of the female premenopausal lifespan and polycystic ovary syndrome; 4. effects of transgender identity and gender-affirming hormones therapy

Taking Students? Not currently, although interested MSc, PhD, and postdoctoral students can inquire re potential future availabilities

Bristol Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Research

University of Bristol, UK

Lab Contacts: Tony Pickering & Jim Dunham

Team Members: Aidan Nickerson, Graeme Newton, Elise Ajay

Research Projects: 1. INSITE-FMS, Pathological nociceptor activity in FMS; 2. APTrack, automated measurement of electrical excitability of C fibre nociceptors; 3. SpikeSpy, open source tools for analysis of C fibre nociceptors

Taking students? Yes


 

Special Interest Groups

Somatosensory Afferents

Moderator: Rochelle Ackerley, Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France

This Special Interest Group is for those interested in recordings from somatosensory afferents, including large-diameter and small-diameter afferents from muscle and skin

If you would like to know more, please contact the moderator through this link.

Sympathetic Efferents

Moderator: Philip Millar, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada

This Special Interest Group is for those interested in multi-unit and single-unit recordings of sympathetic outflow to muscle and skin 

If you would like to know more, please contact the moderator through this link.

Vagal Afferents & Efferents

Moderator: Matteo Maria Ottaviani, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy

This Special Interest Group is for those interested in the physiology and pathophysiology of the vagus nerve, including microelectrode recordings from the nerve

If you would like to know more, please contact the moderator through this  link.

Open-Access Publications 

Åke  B Vallbo, Karl-Erik Hagbarth & B Gunnar Wallin

Microneurography: how the technique developed and its role in the investigation of the sympathetic nervous system

Download the article here

Rochelle Ackerley & Roger H Watkins

Microneurography as a tool to study the function of individual C-fiber afferents in humans: responses from nociceptors, thermoreceptors, and mechanoreceptors

Download the article here

Vaughan G Macefield & Thomas P Knellwolf

Functional properties of human muscle spindles

Download the article here

Seth W Holwerda, Rachel E Luehrs, Allene L Gremaud, Nealy A Wooldridge, Amy K Stroud, Jess G Fiedorowicz, Francois M Abboud & Gary L Pierce

Relative burst amplitude of muscle sympathetic nerve activity is an indicatorof altered sympathetic outflow in chronic anxiety

Download the article here

Jody L Greaney & W Larry Kenney

Measuring and quantifying skin sympathetic nervous system activityin humans

Download the article here

Nicholas DJ Strzalkowski, Ryan M Peters, J  Timothy Inglis & Leah R Bent

Cutaneous afferent innervation of the human foot sole: what can we learn from single-unit recordings?

Download the article here

Jason Carter

Microneurography and sympathetic nerve activity- a decade-by-decade journey across 50 years

Download the article here

J Kevin Shoemaker, Stephen A Klassen, Mark B Badrov & Paul J Fadel

Fifty years of microneurography: learning the language of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system in humans

Download the article here

Vaughan G Macefield & B Gunnar Wallin

Physiological and pathophysiological firing properties of single postganglionic sympathetic neurons in humans

Download the article here

Jacqueline K Limberg, Elizabeth P Ott, Walter W Holbein, Sarah E Baker, Timothy B  Curry, Wayne T Nicholson, Michael J Joyner & Kevin Shoemaker

Pharmacological assessment of the contribution of the arterial baroreflex tosympathetic discharge patterns in healthy humans

Download the article here

Nicholas DJ Strzalkowski, Ayesha Ali & Leah R Bent

The firing characteristics of foot sole cutaneous mechanoreceptor afferents inresponse to vibration stimuli

Download the article here

Rochelle Ackerley, Katarina Wiklund Fernström, Helena Backlund Wasling, Roger H Watkins, Richard D Johnson, Åke Vallbo & Johan Wessberg

Differential effects of radiant and mechanically applied thermal stimuli on human C-tactile afferent firing patterns

Download the article here

Massimo Nardone, Carlin Katerberg, Anthony V Incognito, André L Teixeira, Lauro C Vianna & Philip J Millar

Blood pressure oscillations impact signal-averaged sympathetic transduction of
blood pressure: implications for the association with resting sympathetic
outflow

Download the article here

Massimo Nardone, Carlin Katerberg, André L Teixeira, Jordan B Lee, Julian C Bommarito & Philip J Millar

Sympathetic transduction of blood pressure during graded lower body negative

pressure in young healthy adults

Download the article here

Anthony V Incognito, Massimo Nardone, André L Teixeira, Jordan B Lee, Muhammad M. Kathia & Philip J Millar

Muscle sympathetic single-unit response patterns during progressive muscle metaboreflex activation in young healthy adults

Download the article here

ISM Steering Committee

Vaughan Macefield

Vaughan Macefield is Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Neuroscience, Central Clinical School, at Monash University. Prior to this he was Head of the Human Autonomic Neurophysiology Lab from 2018-2022 at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, where . He was an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney for 12 years, before being appointed Foundation Chair of Integrative Physiology at the new School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, from 2006-2016, and Foundation Chair of Physiology at Mohammed Bin Rashid University in Dubai from 2016-2017. 

 Vaughan specializes in recording from single nerve fibres via microelectrodes inserted into the peripheral nerves of awake human participants (microneurography), and is best known for developing the methodology for recording the firing properties of single, type-identified, sympathetic neurones supplying muscle and skin – as well as his work on the properties of mechanoreceptors in muscles, joints and skin – and for developing the methodology for recording muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) at the same time as performing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain (MSNA-coupled fMRI). Most recently, he made the first microelectrode recordings from the human vagus nerve, via ultrasound-guided microneurography.

Rochelle Ackerley

Rochelle Ackerley is a director of research (professor) at the CNRS, based at Aix-Marseille University in France. Her work on somatosensation spans various body inputs, including discriminative touch, affective touch, haptics, temperature, and proprioception. She gained a PhD in Physiology in 2006 from the University of Bristol in the UK and a docent from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden in 2015. Her work focuses on the sense of touch, where she has worked in industry and academia. She uses the technique of microneurography, to explore the activity of peripheral nerves in humans, combining this with neuroimaging and behavioural experiments. She learned the technique of microneurography in Gothenburg, looking at responses from A-beta mechanoreceptive afferents and C-tactile afferents, extending this to investigate muscle afferents in Marseille. She has published over 50 papers and has ERC Consolidator and ERC Proof-of-Concept grants, as well as national and industrial funding.

Jordi Serra

Jordi Serra is a Consultant in Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology at King’s College Hospital, London. He received his medical degree in 1988 and completed his Neurology specialty in 1992 in Barcelona. He spent the following years (1992 – 1995) as a Neuromuscular Fellow at the Neuromuscular Unit, Good Samaritan Hospital and Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Oregon, USA, where he specialized in the study, diagnosis, and treatment of neuropathic pain patients.

During this period, he was trained in the technique of microneurography. Microneurography offers an unrivaled tool to study spontaneous pain in humans by producing objective records of the abnormal nerve impulse activity responsible for paresthesia (myelinated fibers) and spontaneous pain (unmyelinated fibers). It is the only available technique to detect and quantify positive sensory phenomena of peripheral nerve origin in humans by recording individual action potentials from single sensory fibers. Microneurography also allows for the study of efferent sympathetic axons.

Dr. Serra’s pioneering work on the recording of abnormal spontaneous activity in C-nociceptors from patients and animal models of neuropathic pain is widely cited in the medical literature. Currently he is researching the contribution of small nerve fibers to the pathophysiology of conditions not classically regarded as small fiber neuropathy, including fibromyalgia, POTS and local painful syndromes.

Barbara Namer

Barbara Namer is leader of the Research group “Neuroscience: translational pain research”  funded by the Interdisziplinary Center for clinical research at the university hospital of the RWTH Aachen, Germany. Prior to this she was research group leader at the Departement for Physiology and Pathophysiology at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany . She is trained physician and started specialization in clinical neurology with a focus on polyneuropathies, but then turned to research on unmyelinated nerve fibers in human, pain and itch using microneurography, psychophysics, immunohistochemistry for staining small nerve fibers in human skin, microdialyses and laser doppler imaging. She is combining her dual experience in clinical neurology, knowing in detail the problems of the patients and in basic research in neurophysiology, especially in electrophysiology to answer clinically relevant research questions. Barbara specialized in recording from single nerve fibres via microelectrodes inserted into the peripheral nerves of awake human participants (microneurography) of human C-nociceptors/pruriceptors. She worked for many years with the microneurography groups in Uppsala, Sweden (E. Torebjörk) and Oslo, Norway (Ellen Jorum) together with M. Schmelz from Mannheim, Germany. She is interested in elucidating properties of different C-nociceptor types and their role in itch and pain perception in healthy humans and their dysfunction in patients with neuropathic pain and chronic itch.  

Philip Millar

Philip Millar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph. He completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Cardiology at Toronto General Hospital. Dr. Millar joined the University of Guelph in 2014 and his research program focuses on understanding neural control of the circulation in human health and disease. His integrative cardiovascular physiology laboratory uses microneurography to measure muscle sympathetic nerve activity. Current interests involve understanding the transduction of muscle sympathetic action potentials into end-organ responses, how acute cannabis impacts neural control of blood pressure, determining the mechanisms responsible for activating the sympathetic nervous system during exercise, and studying the interaction between sleep and neuro-cardiovascular control. His laboratory is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Jackie Limberg

Jackie Limberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, USA.  Jackie is interested in mechanisms that contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and interventions that can reverse and/or prevent cardiovascular disease risk. She specializes in recording efferent muscle sympathetic nerve activity using the technique of peroneal microneurography, which she learned during her doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin (trained by Barbara Morgan) and postdoctoral work in the lab of Mike Joyner at the Mayo Clinic (trained by Timothy Curry and J. Kevin Shoemaker). Her program is currently studying how blood flow and blood pressure are modulated by the nervous system, the effect of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions, and how these factors may differ by sex.  

Positions available

PhD Studentship Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK* 

Sympathetic microneurography and its application to understanding pain in Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) 

The University of Brighton will oversee the administration of this PhD 

Supervisory team at BSMS 

Prof Hugo Critchley 

Dr Yoko Nagai 

Dr Jessica Eccles 

Prof Andrew Dilley 

Collaborative advisor 

Prof Vaughan Macefield, Monash University, Melbourne 

Location 

BSMS Clinical Neuroscience Department 

Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex 

Funding 

The studentship is supported jointly by BSMS and the Autonomic Charitable Trust 

Stipend equivalent to a UKRI studentship 

Higher PhD fees apply to non-UK students 

Research question: 

What are the mechanisms of interaction between pain processing and autonomic dysregulation that can account for fibromyalgia and experience of pain symptoms in POTS? 

Approaches 

Peripheral nerve recording of sympathetic and sensory nerves fibres 

Recruitment and testing of human participants including nonclinical volunteers and patients with dysautonomia (PoTS) and/or fibromyalgia 

Measures including diagnostic schedules, quantitative questionnaires (including symptoms rating scales), computerised psychological and behavioural tasks, recording of physiological responses across autonomic axes. 

Development and piloting of biobehavioural interventions for symptom management 

Training goals towards expertise in: 

Microneurography – facilitated by planned visit to Professor Macefield’s group in Melbourne (Yr 1). 

Human autonomic psychophysiology 

Experimental (cognitive / affective) psychology studies 

Clinical (patient focused) research 

Acquisition management analyses and interpretation of multiaxis experimental datasets 

Scientific presentations 

To apply 

Applicants must apply through the University of Brighton application portal StudentView (brighton.ac.uk) where they can submit a CV and complete the application form. 

The deadline for applications is January 31, 2024

Interviews will be held in February, 2024

Proposed start date from May 1, 2024 

Informal enquiries are very welcome and should be submitted to Professor Hugo Critchley or Professor Andrew Dilley

Further information



The International Society for Microneurography Inc.   Registered as a Not-For-Profit Incorporated Association in Victoria, Australia, on March 30, 2024. Reg. A0122777S