Department of Biological Sciences

Gif ImageAndy N. Spencer


Director of Bamfield Marine Station

Address: Bamfield Marine Station, Bamfield, B.C. V0R 1B0.

E mail:

Ph: 250 728 3301

Fax: 250 728 3452

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Academic degrees

Areas of Involvement

Currently on contract until June 1998 as Director of Bamfield Marine Station on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The University of Alberta is a member of the consortium of five western universities which operate the Station. It is the major marine research and teaching facility on the Canadian West-Coast. In addition I have responsibility for an NSERC-funded research program (described below) operating at both the Marine Station and on campus in Edmonton. In 1995/96 I am the incumbent President of the Canadian Society of Zoologists. In addition to my research areas in neurobiology I have strong academic interests in invertebrate structure/function and evolution as well as general marine biology.

Current Research Interests

Our group is interested in the evolution of the nervous system in early metazoans with particular emphasis on hydrozoan jellyfish. We use a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the early evolution of the basic molecular and physiological building blocks of nervous systems. At present we are determining the structure and functional significance of "primitive" voltage-gated ion channels (K+, Na+, Ca++) using both electrophysiological and molecular biological techniques including: primary neuronal culture, current and voltage-clamp, oocyte expression assays, cloning by PCR, in situ hybridization. Other projects include ion channel modulation by transmitters and development of excitable cell lineages in cnidarians.

Selected Recent Publications

Jegla,T.,Grigoriev,N.,Gallin,W.J.,Salkoff,L.,and A N.Spencer. 1995. Multiple Shaker Potassium Channels in a Primitive Metazoan. Journal of Neuroscience 15:7989-7999.

Grigoriev,N.G.,Spafford,J.D.,Przysiezniak,J.,and A.N.Spencer. 1995. A cardiac-like sodium current in motor neurons of a jellyfish. Journal of Neurophysiology (in press).

Spafford,J.D.,Grigoriev,N.G.,and A.N.Spencer. 1995. Pharmacological properties of voltage-gated sodium currents in motor neurones from a hydrozoan jellyfish Polyorchis penicillatus. Journal of Experimental Biology (in press).

Przysiezniak,J.,and A.N.Spencer. 1994. Voltage-activated potassium currents in isolated motor neurones from the jellyfish Polyorchis penicillatus. Journal of Neurophysiology 72:1010-1019.

Przysiezniak,J.,and A.N.Spencer. 1992. Voltage-activated calcium currents in identified neurons from a hydrozoan jellyfish, Polyorchis penicillatus. Journal of Neuroscience 12:2065-2078.

Chung,J.M. and A.N.Spencer. 1991. Dopamine acts through a D2-like receptor on a jellyfish motor neuron. Journal of Comparative Physiology 169:599-606.

Spencer,A.N.,Przysiezniak,J.,Acosta-Urquidi,J.,and T.A.Basarsky. 1989. Presynaptic spike broadening reduces junctional potential amplitude. Nature 340:636-638.


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