Robert Campenot

Robert Campenot

Robert Campenot (Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Professor Emeritus

Department of Cell Biology
6-22 Medical Sciences Building
Phone: (780) 492-7180
Fax: (780) 492-0450 (fax)
bob.campenot@ualberta.ca


Scholarly Activity

I retired from the University of Alberta in 2014 after almost four decades researching the mechanisms of nerve growth. As part of the transition I went on sabbatical during the 2012-2013 academic year, to write a book. The pursuit of writing seemed to me to offer limitless possibilities, not requiring a laboratory and all the attendant responsibilities of an active academic position.

My subject is one I have pondered over my entire career—how cells produce electrical signals—which is the basis of all sensation, movement, and thinking. The mechanism of the nerve impulse, although well known, is not widely understood, even among professional neuroscientists. It is generally regarded as a highly mathematical process, the understanding of which is relegated to professionals who work in specialized areas where this knowledge is essential.

I do not think this has to be the case, and I set out to produce a book that presents an intuitive understanding of the action potential and other electrical phenomena produced by cells that is neither highly mathematical nor dumbed-down. I wanted my book to be accessible to anyone interested in knowing how the nervous system works, not just those with a background in university-level science, so I assume no previous knowledge. The book tells readers how nerve and muscle work, embedded in the history of where this knowledge comes from.   I try to tell the story like it really is in imagery that brings the mechanisms to life and does not require any prerequisite knowledge of mathematics or electrical circuits. My hope is that every page will be an engaging read.

The writing extended far beyond my sabbatical, but I am now pleased to say my book, Animal Electricity: How We Learned That the Body and Brain are Electric Machines, has been published by Harvard University Press (www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674736818). How humans and all animals produce electricity has mystified and intrigued people for hundreds of years. It is most certainly worth knowing.

(Note: Dr. Campenot is retired and is no longer accepting applications from prospective graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or research staff.)


Selected Publications

Campenot, R. B. (2016) Animal Electricity: How We Learned That the Body and Brain Are Electric Machines. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 

Mok S. A., Lund K. and Campenot R. B. (2009) A retrograde apoptotic signal originating in NGF-deprived distal axons of rat sympathetic neurons in compartmented cultures. Cell Research 19: 546-560. 

Campenot R. B., Lund K., and Mok S-A. (2009) Production of compartmented cultures of rat sympathetic neurons. Nature Protocols 4: 1869-1887. 

MacInnis, B.L., Campenot, R.B. (2002). Retrograde support of neuronal survival without retrograde transport of nerve growth factor. Science 295: 1536-1539. 

Senger, D. L., and Campenot, R. B. (1997) Rapid retrograde tyrosine phosphorylation of trkA and other proteins in rat sympathetic neurons in compartmented cultures. Journal of Cell Biology 138: 411-21. 

Ure, D. R., and Campenot, R. B. (1997) Retrograde transport and steady-state distribution of 125I-nerve growth factor in rat sympathetic neurons in compartmented cultures. Journal of Neuroscience 17: 1282-90. 

Campenot, B., Lund, K., and Senger, D. L. (1996) Delivery of newly synthesized tubulin to rapidly growing distal axons of sympathetic neurons in compartmented cultures. Journal of Cell Biology 135: 701-9. 

Campenot, R. B. (1982) Development of sympathetic neurons in compartmentalized cultures. I. Local control of neurite growth by nerve growth factor. Developmental Biology 93: 1-12. 

Campenot, R. B. (1982) Development of sympathetic neurons in compartmentalized cultures. II. Local control of neurite survival by nerve growth factor. Developmental Biology 93: 13-21. 

Campenot, R. B. (1977).Local control of neurite development by nerve growth factor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 74: 4516-9.  

Campenot, R. B. (1975) The effects of high hydrostatic pressure on transmission at the crustacean neuromuscular junction. Comparative and Biochemical Physiology [B] 52: 133-40.