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Steven Middleton

Postdoctoral Research Scientist

  • Junior Research Fellow, Wolfson College


I received my BSc (Hons) in Neuroscience from Cardiff University, my research focused on the peripheral nervous system and sensory neuron development with Professor Alun Davies. I completed a research training year at the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine, in Berlin. I worked under the supervision of Professor Gary Lewin investigating novel proteins which modulate touch and pain sensation. My doctoral training was completed at the University of Oxford. My Wellcome Trust DPhil Studentship focused on Ion Channels in Health & Disease (OXION). During my DPhil I received training from the Neural Injury Group (Oxford), the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (Berlin) and the University of New England (Maine, US). 

I am currently a post-doctoral research scientist in the Neural Injury Research Group led by Professor David Bennett. 

Research Summary

My research focuses on the neurobiology of pain and touch sensation. In particular, my work interrogates the functional role of different populations of sensory neurons. Sensory neurons are heterogeneous nerve cells that innervate sensory targets such as the skin, and extend central terminals which enter the dorsal horn of the spinal cord. I study this sensory circuit and aim to understand the mechanisms that govern normal (protective) touch and pain, and how following injury or disease pain can become chronic (neuropathic pain). I use pre-clinical genetic models to target and silence sensory function in healthy and neuropathic conditions. My research aims to identify which population(s) of sensory neurons are critical for driving neuropathic pain, and to identify novel, druggable, targets in these key populations. In addition, I am developing innovative gene therapies that can silence abnormal activity in human IPSC derived sensory neurons, as a means to treat chronic pain.

To investigate these questions my research uses a wide range techniques including: chemogenetic silencing, patch clamp electrophysiology and skin-nerve primary afferent recordings.

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