Visceral Neurophysiology and Engineering Lab


The Visceral Neurophysiology and Engineering Lab, led by Dr. Aaron Mickle, is based in the Department of Physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Our research focuses on neuronal control of bladder dysfunction and pain. Specifically, we investigate the fundamental mechanisms underlying bladder sensory function, including how sensory information is transmitted from non-neuronal cells within the bladder to sensory neurons. Additionally, we explore how the central nervous system encodes this information. Our lab is committed to developing innovative treatments for various bladder disorders, such as overactive bladder, bladder pain syndrome, and bladder dysfunction following spinal cord injury. We approach this challenge from multiple angles, including:

• Research tool development: Creating advanced tools to study bladder function and dysfunction.

• Implantable biomedicine treatments: Exploring novel approaches for managing bladder-related conditions.

• Validating new pharmacological targets: Identifying potential drug targets to improve patient outcomes.

Furthermore, we extend our interest beyond bladder-related issues to include pelvic organ pain and interoception. Our goal is to enhance our understanding of these complex physiological processes and contribute to better patient care.

Overview of the bladder sensory pathway and bladder anatomy. A Mechanical and chemical stimuli are transduced to convey the state of the bladder, ascending via the hypogastric (T10, L1, and L2) and pelvic (L6, S1) nerves to the periaqueductal gray (PAG) and other supraspinal sites such as the pontine micturition center (PMC). B Major anatomy of the urinary bladder. C The layers of the bladder, traveling up from the outermost adventitia/serosa to the lumen. Published - Original artwork by Harrison Hsiang
Lab Holiday Gathering 2023.


Jul 01, 2024 We have arrived and have started establishing the lab and collaberations at MCW!
Medical College of Wisconsin Campus.
Jun 01, 2024 Dr. Mickle was recently interviewed for an article on brain bladder interactions and how urine urgency is perceived. Read Here
Apr 29, 2024 The lab is moving to the Medical College of Wisconsin
Apr 25, 2024 Congratulations to Gabbie Robilotto for winning 2nd best poster presentation for graduate students and Firoj Alom, who won third place in the postdoc category at the annual UF CVM Phi Zeta Research Day. Way to go!
Mar 07, 2024 Congrats to Drs. Firoj Alom and Sabhya Rana on their co-first author publication in eLife! We show evidence that AMPA receptors play a key role in bladder function. Additionally, we show convincingly that AMPA allosteric activators can ameliorate many of the subacute defects in bladder and external urethral sphincter function following SCI, including prolonged voiding intervals and high bladder pressure thresholds for voiding. These valuable results in rodents may help in the development of these agents as therapeutics for humans with SCI-induced bladder dysfunction.

selected publications

  1. Acute ampakines increase voiding function and coordination in a rat model of SCI
    Sabhya Rana , Firoj Alom , Robert C Martinez , David D Fuller , and Aaron D Mickle
    Elife, 2024
  2. Optogenetic urothelial cell stimulation induces bladder contractions and pelvic nerve afferent firing
    Gabriella L Robilotto , Olivia J Yang , Firoj Alom , Richard D Johnson , and Aaron D Mickle
    Am. J. Physiol. Renal Physiol., Aug 2023