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Research interests

Migraine headache is one of the most common neurovascular disorders and is highly debilitating, poorly understood and difficult to treat. Research in Cao lab focuses on understanding the mechanisms of episodic and chronic migraine from both cellular and systems neuroscience perspectives. We employ a multidisciplinary approach including electrophysiology, time-lapse imaging, anatomical tracing, single neuron profiling as well as mouse genetics and behavioral assays. Current research projects include:

1) To understand how migraine-associated ion channel mutations affect channel biophysics, neuronal excitability, synaptic transmission and the encoding of headache.

2) To study the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the transition from episodic to chronic migraine.

3) To investigate how the innate and adaptive immune systems modulate the neuronal circuits underlying migraine headache.

Through these mechanistic studies, we hope to identify novel molecular and cellular targets for the development of new abortive and prophylactic therapeutics for migraine and other primary headache disorders.

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