Elucidating the mechanisms of touch, pain and itch
My lab aims to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the sensations of itch, touch and pain. Humans rely on these senses for a broad range of essential behaviors. For example, acute pain acts as a warning signal that alerts us to noxious mechanical, chemical and thermal stimuli, which are potentially tissue damaging. Likewise, itch sensations trigger reflexes that may protect us from disease-carrying insects. Despite these essential protective functions, itch and pain can outlast their usefulness and become chronic. My lab uses cellular physiology, molecular biology, molecular genetics and behavioral studies to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying itch and pain transduction under normal and pathophysiological conditions.