Pain receptors in the skin are activated by coarse brush strokes and pinching. Photo credit Charlotte PerhammarThe major goal is to understand how sensory representation can be altered e.g. by injury, which will have major implications for the understanding and treatment of somatosensory dysfunctions like chronic pain.
Perception of the environment is a crucial function of the nervous system. External stimuli in concert with internal state guide behaviors, moods and choices. Recent years have brought a tremendous progress in understanding what are molecular basis of stimulation detection on the skin by sensory neurons. For example my previous research has demonstrated that certain types of pain hypersensitivity require detection of mechanical stimulation by a mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo2 both in animal models and Piezo2-deficiency syndrome patients.
Our aim is to build on those discoveries to understand molecular and cellular organization of sensory systems detecting various stimuli e.g. internal – coming from gastrointestinal tract and how subsequent sensory perceptions are created in the central nervous system. For interrogation of sensory system we will use various approaches in a rodent model. We will combine functional in vivo calcium imaging and electrophysiological assays with molecular genetics, viral-mediated gene expression, instrument design, and new computational methods for data acquisition and processing.