Equipment & Techniques
The main interest of the Smith lab is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which sensory neurons detect noxious stimuli, so-called nociceptors. We are particularly interested in how nociceptors are activated in both physiological and pathophysiological states and how this changes during different disease states, something that we address using a combination of in vitro and in vivo techniques. We also try to understand how genetic variations identified in humans with differing pain sensation produce the effects that they do. A further area of interest in the Smith lab is the unusual physiology of the naked mole-rat, an animal that is cold-blooded, lives for 30+ years, is resistant to cancer and is also eusocial! Weconduct comparative physiology and genetics with the naked mole-rat to identify molecules and circuits that underlie aspects of their 'odd' physiology, results from such work will lead to a greater understanding of how 'normal' physiology works in other mammals including humans.
A subset of colonic sensory neurons express Mrgprd
Dorsal root ganglion section from a Mrgprd-GFP mouse with colonic sensory neurons stained with fast blue and anti-CGRP staining in red