Associate Professor, Anesthesiology; Feinberg School of Medicine
Cancer Control & Survivorship
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Our long term line of research involves the identification and characterization of genes required fro the function, formation and degeneration of sensory receptor cells and neurons, and particularly those that mediate nociception and pain. As part of this work, we characterized major pain-transducing ion channels (TRPA1 and the ASICs) as well as genes involves in determining the number of sensory neurons being produced (Insm1). In particular, we found the Insm1 promotes the transition of progenitors in developing neuroepithelia from apical, proliferating and uncommitted (neural stem cells) to basal, terminally-dividing and neuron-producing.
In characterizing genes potentially involved in sensory neurons we often encounter novel projects of interest to other fields. For example, we found that the deafness-causing gene Trpml3 is also expressed in melanocytes and maps to a region of the genome with susceptibility to melanoma, so we are testing whether mutations in Trpml3 contribute to these tumors.