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School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

Academic Staff

Dr Robert William Banks, BSc PhD DSc

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41254
Fax: +44-(0)191 334 1201
Room number: 169

(email at


Within the broad area of neuroscience my work centres on the mammalian muscle spindle, a mechanoreceptor that occurs in voluntary muscles and responds to length and changing length of the muscles, providing information to the central nervous system for use in controlling muscle activity. Knowledge of its structure and function is important at various levels ranging from the molecular biology of ion channels to the nature of control systems, and in various fields from basic physiology to clinical applications such as nerve repair and rehabilitation. I am currently collaborating with Dr. M. Hulliger of Calgary on the consequences of a pyridoxine-induced large-fibre sensory neuropathy on the sensory innervation of muscle and motor control; and with Dr. Guy Bewick of Aberdeen on the role of synaptic-like vesicles in the sensory endings of mechanoreceptors.

Research Interests

  • Neurobiology
  • Structure and function of sensory receptors in muscle

Selected Publications

Articles: magazine

  • Bewick, Guy & Banks, Bob (2010). “Sensible to feeling as to sight” some recent progress on mechanosensory transduction in mammals. Physiology News 80: 33-37.

Book chapters: online

  • Banks, R. (2014). Skeletal Muscle. In Reference Module in Biomedical Sciences. Caplan, M. Elsevier.

Edited works: conference proceedings

  • Watson, S., Zanato, C., Dall'Angello, S, Banks, R. W., Greig, I., Zanda, M. & Bewick, G. S. (2013). Development of fluorescent and biotinylated agonists for a novel glutamate receptor in mechanosensory terminals. International Union of Physiological Sciences, Birmingham, UK.
  • Banks, R. W. , Cahusac, P. M. Watson, S. & Bewick, G. S. (2012). An ex vivo preparation of mouse pinna for recording afferent responses from guard hair follicles of hairy skin.
  • Durbaba, R. Rudd, D. Hulliger, M. & Banks, R. W. (2012). Assessment of myelin thickness and axon circularity in a dorsal root of the mouse.
  • Watson, S. Zanato, C. Dall'Angello, S. Banks, R. W. , Greig, I. Zanda, M. & Bewick, G. S. (2012). Pharmacological profile of non-canonical mGluR regulating mechanosensory nerve terminal firing.
  • Simon, A. Banks, R. W. & Bewick, G. S. (2010). A role for glutamate in regulating mechanosensory sensitivity: Further evidence from rat muscle spindle primary afferent terminals.
  • Watson, S. Aryiku, C. Banks, R. W. & Bewick, G. S. (2010). Comparison of gadolinium and FM1-43 as blockers of stretch-evoked firing of rat muscle spindle afferents. Durham, UK.
  • Shenton, F. C. , Banks, R. W. & Bewick, G. S. (2010). In lanceolate endings of rat hair follicles the small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel SK3 is found mainly in glial cells. Durham, UK.
  • Paton, J. F. Banks, R. W. & Bewick, G. S. (2010). Modulation of afferent excitability and reflex responses by phospholipase D-coupled metabotropic glutamate receptors in the peripheral terminals of rat arterial baroreceptors.
  • Bewick, G. & Banks, R. (2010). The role of synaptic-like vesicles in control of mechanosensation in peripheral nerve terminals. Durham, UK.
  • de Nooij, J. C. Simon, A. Doobar, S. Steel, K. P. Banks, R. W. , Bewick, G. S. & Jessell, T. M. (2010). Whirlin function in proprioceptive mechanotransduction. Durham, UK.
  • Singh, P. Simon, A. Banks, R. W. & Bewick, G. S. (2009). Glutamatergic modulation of vesicle turnover in primary mechanosensory endings.
  • Shenton, F. C., Bewick, G. S. & Banks, R. W. (2009). Immunocytochemical evidence for the presence of ENaC subunits in the sensory endings of rat muscle spindles. Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, IL.
  • Shenton, F. C. , Wollner, H. , Bewick, G. S. & Banks, R. W. (2009). Immunogold labelling for glutamate in lanceolate endings of rat hairs.
  • Simon, A., Banks, R. W. & Bewick, G. S. (2009). KCa channels regulate stretch-evoked afferent firing from muscle spindles.
  • Banks, R. W., Simon, A., Rowe, I. C. & Bewick, G. S (2009). P/Q type Ca2+ channels and KCa channels regulate afferent discharge frequency in spindle mechanosensory terminals. Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, IL.
  • Simon, A., Banks, R. W. & Bewick, G. S. (2009). P/Q type calcium and K(Ca) channel blockers increase afferent discharge from mechanosensory terminals. British Neuroscience Association.
  • Simon, A., Banks, R. W. & Bewick, G. S. (2009). Stretch-activated rat muscle spindle afferent discharge is inhibited by ENaC and TRP channel modulators. Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, IL.
  • M Hulliger & R W Banks (2004). The relation between motor deficit and proprioceptive loss after large-fibre deafferentation by pyridoxine. 34th Annual Meeting, San Diego, Society for Neuroscience.

Edited works: contributions

  • Banks R.W. (2005). The muscle spindle. In Peripheral Neuropathy. PJ Dyck & PK Thomas Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders. 131-150.
  • Banks R.W. & Barker, D (2004). The muscle spindle. In Myology. A Engel & C Franzini-Armstrong New York: McGraw-Hill. 3rd. edition: 489-509.

Journal papers: academic

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