profile image for Dr Stella Koutsikou

Dr Stella Koutsikou

Lecturer of Biological Sciences

Medway School of Pharmacy



I graduated with an MSc in Neuroscience (1999) from the University of Edinburgh and I was awarded my PhD in Physiology (2004) from University of Bristol, under the supervision of Professor Sally Lawson.

My initial postdoctoral work at the University of Bristol, with Professor Bridget Lumb and Dr. Frankie MacMillan, focused on midbrain periaqueductal grey (PAG) descending control of pain processing at the level of the spinal cord. In subsequent years, and through collaboration with Professor Richard Apps, we expanded our research into investigating how the PAG interacts with spinal and supraspinal motor circuits to co-ordinate behavioural responses essential to survival. It was at this point that I developed a strong interest for the role of midbrain and brainstem in survival behaviours. My most recent work with Dr Steve Soffe and Professor Alan Roberts enabled me to study midbrain single cell contributions to behaviour utilising the Xenopus laevis tadpole.

I joined the Medway School of Pharmacy in June 2017 as a Lecturer in Biological Sciences. I also hold an Honorary Senior Research Fellow position at the University of Bristol, where I collaborate with colleagues in the Schools of Biological Sciences, Physiology Pharmacology & Neuroscience and Veterinary Sciences.

Specialist areas

Midbrain & Brainstem; Xenopus tadpole neurobiology; Behavioural Neuroscience; Defence/Arousal system; Survival Behaviours

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Research articles

Smith M, Taylor C, Weerasinghe N, Koutsikou S, Lumb B, Murrell J. (2016) Does inflammation induced by ultraviolet B and heat rekindling alter pain-related behaviour in rats? Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia 43(5):579-585.

Koutsikou S, Watson TC, Crook JJ, Leith JL, Lawrenson CL, Apps R, Lumb BM. (2015) The periaqueductal gray orchestrates sensory and motor circuits at multiple levels of the neuraxis. Journal of Neuroscience 35(42):14132-47.

Watson TC, Koutsikou S, Apps R, Jones, MW, eds. (2015) Distributed Networks: New Outlooks on Cerebellar Function. Lausanne: Frontiers Media. doi: 10.3389/978-2-88919-626-5.

Loft MSE, Koutsikou S, Cerminara NL, Apps R. (2015) Cerebellar-Basal Ganglia Communication: Physiological Evidence of a Fast Route for Interaction. In Proceedings of the workshop on Cerebellum, Basal Ganglia and Cortical Connections Unmasked in Health and Disorder held in Brno, Czech Republic, October 17th, 2013. Cerebellum 14:142-150.

Koutsikou S, Crook JJ, Earl EV, Leith JL, Watson TC, Lumb BM, Apps R. (2014) Neural substrates underlying fear-evoked freezing: the periaqueductal grey-cerebellar link. Journal of Physiology 592:2197-2213.

Weerasinghe NS, Lumb BM, Apps R, Koutsikou S, Murrell JC. (2014) Objective Validation of Central Sensitisation in the Rat UVB and Heat Rekindling Model. European Journal of Pain 18: 1199-1206.

Djouhri L, Fang X, Koutsikou S, Lawson SN. (2012) Partial nerve injury induces electrophysiological changes in conducting (uninjured) nociceptive and nonnociceptive DRG neurons: Possible relationships to aspects of peripheral neuropathic pain and paresthesias. Pain 153:1824-1836.

Leith JL, Koutsikou S, Lumb BM, Apps R. (2010) Spinal processing of noxious and innocuous cold information: differential modulation by the periaqueductal gray. Journal of Neuroscience 30(14):4933-4942.

Cerminara NL, Koutsikou S, Lumb BM, Apps R. (2009) The periaqueductal grey modulates sensory input to the cerebellum: a role in coping behaviour? European Journal of Neuroscience 229:2197-2206.

Parry DM, Macmillan FM, Koutsikou S, McMullan S, Lumb BM. (2008) Separation of A- versus C-nociceptive inputs into spinal-brainstem circuits. Neuroscience 152:1076-1085.

Koutsikou S*, Parry DM, Macmillan FM, Lumb BM. (2007) Laminar organization of spinal dorsal horn neurones activated by C- vs. A-heat nociceptors and their descending control from the periaqueductal grey in the rat. European Journal of Neuroscience 26:943-952. * Corresponding author

Djouhri L, Koutsikou S, Fang X, McMullan S, Lawson SN. (2006) Spontaneous pain, both neuropathic and inflammatory, is related to frequency of spontaneous firing in intact C-fiber nociceptors. Journal of Neuroscience 26:1281-1292.


Koutsikou S, Apps R, Lumb BM (2017) Top down control of spinal sensorimotor circuits essential for survival. Journal of Physiology DOI: 10.1113/JP273360. * Corresponding author

Hainer C, Mosienko V, Koutsikou S, Crook JJ, Gloss B, Kasparov S, Lumb BM, Alenina N. (2015) Beyond Gene Inactivation: Evolution of Tools for Analysis of Serotonergic Circuitry. ACS Chemical Neuroscience 6:1116-1129.

Watson TC, Koutsikou S, Cerminara NL, Flavell CR, Crook JJ, Lumb BM, Apps R. (2013) The olivo-cerebellar system and its relationship to survival circuits. Frontiers in Neural Circuits 7:72.

Book editing

Watson TC, Koutsikou S, Apps R, Jones, MW, eds. (2015) Distributed Networks: New Outlooks on Cerebellar Function. Lausanne: Frontiers Media. doi: 10.3389/978-2-88919-626-5.

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Last Updated 13/03/2018