Robert Fettiplace

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Robert Fettiplace
KavliPrize-7111 (44513568411).jpg
Nottingham, England
Alma materCambridge University
AwardsKavli Prize in Neuroscience (2018)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison

Robert Fettiplace FRS is a British neuroscientist, and Steenbock Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[1][2]


Fettiplace studied the mechanism of hearing in vertebrates. In 1976, he and Andrew Crawford developed a method of recording the electrical responses of hair cells in the isolated cochlea of reptiles. These experiments, which were the first to give extensive quantitative records from auditory receptors, showed that each hair cell is sharply tuned to a characteristic frequency and that much of the frequency selectivity in the turtle’s ear can be attributed to electrical resonance in the hair cell membrane.[citation needed] Later work proved that the resonant frequency was set by the density and kinetics of potassium channels, the frequency increasing with a greater number of faster channels. At least three classes of potassium channels are needed to cover the range of hearing: voltage- and calcium-activated (BK) channels, voltage-gated (Kv) channels, and inwardly rectifying channels. These channels work together with voltage-gated calcium channels to generate electrical resonance, a conclusion that was supported by mathematical reconstruction and simulations.[3] This mechanism is present in all vertebrate classes except mammals. Another important development was the use of new methods of imaging hair cell stereociliary bundles and delivering force stimuli, providing the first demonstration of sub-micron active oscillations of the bundles. His subsequent work has focused on determining the properties, location and identity of the mechanically sensitive ion channels that transduce sound stimuli into electrical signals.[4]

Awards and honours[edit]

Fettiplace was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1990.[4] He was also elected a Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012.[5] In 2018, Dr. Fettiplace shared the Kavli Prize in Neuroscience with A. James Hudspeth and Christine Petit.


  1. ^ "Fettiplace, Robert". Department of Neuroscience. 298. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  2. ^ "Fettiplace, Robert". Neuroscience Training Program. 634. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  3. ^ Wu, Y.-C; Art, J.J; Goodman, M.B; Fettiplace, R (1995). "A kinetic description of the calcium-activated potassium channel and its application to electrical tuning of hair cells". Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. 63 (2): 131–58. doi:10.1016/0079-6107(95)00002-5. PMID 7624477.
  4. ^ a b "Robert Fettiplace". London: Royal Society. One or more of the preceding sentences may incorporate text from the website where "all text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." "Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on February 20, 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-09.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. ^ (