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Kajana Satkunendrarajah

Kajana Satkunendrarajah, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery; Physiology


  • Neurosurgery
    8701 Watertown Plank Rd.
    Milwaukee, WI 53226


Postdoctoral Fellowship, Krembil Research Institute, Toronto, Canada, 2014
PhD, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, 2008
Sc, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1999


Dr. Kajana Satkunendrarajah is an associate professor of neurosurgery and physiology and a member of MCW’s Neuroscience Research Center. She received her PhD from The School of Medicine at Wayne State University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Krembil Research Institute in Toronto, Canada.

Rhythmic motor behaviors such as breathing and locomotion are controlled by highly complex neural systems and allow an organism to sustain life and interact with the surroundings. These behaviors are generated and regulated by a specific network of neurons within the CNS. These networks are often disrupted following injury to the central nervous system, threatening the individual’s survival and quality of life.

Dr. Satkunendrarajah’s research program is focused on elucidating the anatomy, function, and plasticity of neural networks controlling motor behavior in health and disease. Her research on motor control and spinal cord injury combines fundamental neuroscience, respiratory, and locomotor physiology, as well as preclinical neural circuit manipulation using cutting-edge viral techniques, optogenetics, and pharmacogenetics in transgenic mice. The overall aim of her research program is to further understand the neural control of motor behavior and to use this knowledge to develop new therapies that enhance motor recovery after spinal cord and brain injury. Ultimately, translation of these approaches to patients with spinal cord and brain injury is the primary goal.

Honors and Awards

2003 - Thomas C. Rumble Fellowship, Wayne State University School of Medicine
2009 - Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Spinal Cord Injury Research, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation.
2017 - Young Investigator Award, AOSpine North America
2017 - Young Investigator Award, AOSpine North America

Research Interests

Elucidating neural networks in the control of breathing and locomotion in health and disease.