Assistant Professor

Contact information

J. David Spafford.Office: Biology 1 (B1) 173
Phone: 519-888-4567 x38185
Webpage: David Spafford's website

Appointed to Biology


Postdoc, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Calgary (2002)
Postdoc, Vrie Universiteit Amsterdam (1998)
PhD, University of Alberta (1998)
BSc, University of Saskatchewan (1992)


Dr. Spafford's laboratory focuses on analyses of voltage-gated calcium channels. Calcium channels participate in essential brain functions, such as synaptic transmission, neuronal plasticity, patterned nerve activity underlying rhythmic behaviours, outgrowth of neurons and synapse formation.  Calcium channels are excellent drug targets for treatment of pain, arrhythmias, angina, and potential benefits in treatment of epilepsy and cancer.

Techniques used in the Spafford lab include: single channel and whole-cell recording of channels and neurons; pre- and post- synaptic recording using sharp microelectrodes; transfection and analyses of in vitro expressed channels in human cell lines; isolation, and culture of in vitro identified synapses and networks; recording of intact neural networks underlying behavior; fluorescent tracking of proteins in developing synapses; ratiometric imaging using calcium-sensitive dyes; analyses of site-directed mutagenized and chimeric channels; study of protein-protein interactions using biochemistry.

Major projects in Dr. Spafford's lab focus on the: a) cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying calcium channel expression and localization in developing synapses; b) modulation of calcium channel function by G proteins, phosphorylation and synaptic proteins; c) isolation and characterization of anti-calcium channel toxins for caveolin 1 (Cav1), Cav2 and Cav3 calcium channels.

University of Waterloo

Profiles by type

Brain Day 2023 Videos On-line

The videos from Brain Day 2023 are now available on line at our youtube channel. Hope you enjoy.

CTN Masters Student Graduate Sugandha Sharma Appears on Generally Intelligent Podcast

Sugandha Sharma, masters student graduate of the University of Waterloo's CTN, discusses her research and time in the laboratory of CTN Founding Director Chris Eliasmith as well as her current PhD research at MIT on the Generally Intelligent Podcast. Give it a listen.

Sue Ann Campbell Presents at International Conference on Mathematical Neurosci 2022

Sue Ann Campbell (Applied Math/CTN core member) recently presented "Modulation of Synchronization by a Slowly Varying Current"  in July 2022 at the International Conference on Mathematical Neuroscience; Watch it on YouTubesue ann campbell presentation image of spikes

CTN Research Day 2023 Oct 17 16:30 - 19:00 QNC 0101

The Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience will be hosting its second Research Day. This will be a chance to start the new academic year by getting re-acquainted with each other and the diversity of research conducted by CTN core and affiliate faculty. The format will be to have a number of CTN faculty share short overviews of their lab's and projects (16:30-17:30) and then, following a short coffee break (17:30-18:00), hear from a dozen current graduate students and post-docs giving short three minute talks on an aspect of their current research (18:00-19:00).

Bots and Beasts. New book by CTN Founding Member Paul Thagard

Paul Thagard, philosopher, cognitive scientist, Killam prize winner, and founding CTN member has a new book out: Bots and Beasts. bots and beasts book cover