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Research interests

Emerging evidence suggests that many cell types at barrier surfaces including the skin, lung, and gastrointestinal (GI) tract selectively express ion channels that serve as molecular sensors of chemical and physical stimuli. Activation of these ion channels under conditions of tissue damage and inflammation can initiate complex signaling pathways in both primary sensory neurons and numerous tissue resident cells and subsequently produce pain and itch sensations in the skin, coughing from the lung, and cramps in the GI tract. These sensory reflexes facilitate our detection of noxious environment and trigger rapid removal of harmful stimuli. I am interested in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying somatic and visceral hypersensitivity in the skin and gut. We use electrophysiological, pharmacological, optogenetic, and chemogenetic approaches in combination to molecular biology and behavioral methods to gain fundamental insights into the roles of membrane receptors and ion channels, especially transient receptor potential (TRP) channels and mechanosensitive Piezo channels expressed by epithelial cells, immune cells, and primary sensory neurons.

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