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Wilkie Andrew Wilson Jr.

Research Professor Emeritus in the Social Science Research Institute
Social Science Research Institute
Duke Box 90539, Durham, NC 27708
VA Med Ctr, 508 Fulton St, Durham, NC 27705


The laboratory of Dr. Wilson is directed toward understanding the neurobiological mechanisms by which the central nervous system changes in response to normal and pathological experience.

A number of questions are being addressed. What changes in neural networks are necessary and sufficient for learning to occur? How does the nervous system respond to injury so that epileptic seizures are induced? How do the currently available anticonvulsants work and can they be made more effective? Are there drugs which can prevent the development of seizures? Why do young animals and humans learn easily and why are they so susceptible to seizures? What processes underlie the death of neurons following trauma, seizures, hypoxia, or hypoglycemia, and what types of drugs can prevent cell death?

The techniques used in these studies range from studies of the electrical activity of the neural networks in isolation to behavioral studies of learning in vivo. Electrophysiological techniques include in vitro recording from brain slices with extracellular and intracellular probes, as well as in vivo recording of network activity. Molecular biological techniques are used to express receptors and ion channels in host cells and then electrophysiological techniques are used to characterize them. Other types of studies such as neuroanatomical procedures and behavioral experiments are carried out in collaboration with an affiliated team of anatomists, psychologists, and neurosurgeons.

The purpose of this work and the overall goal of our laboratory is to develop new drugs and techniques that will ameliorate or cure disorders of the human nervous system.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Research Professor Emeritus in the Social Science Research Institute · 2020 - Present Social Science Research Institute, University Institutes and Centers
Affiliate of the Center for Child and Family Policy · 2015 - Present Center for Child and Family Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy

Education, Training & Certifications

Duke University · 1971 Ph.D.