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Environmental control of somatosensory neuron development and function

Jay Parrish
University of Washington, Department of Biology
Seminar date:
Monday, October 28, 2019 - 12:00 to 13:00
HCK 132

My laboratory’s long-term goal is to understand how environmental signals shape somatosensory neuron (SSN) structure and function. SSNs shape our experience of the world, allowing for perception and discrimination of pain, touch, pressure, and movement, and are a focal point of a growing human health crisis. Nearly twenty million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathies, and one in three individuals in the U.S. will suffer from chronic pain. Understanding key control points for SSN development and function therefore is of paramount importance for therapeutic intervention in this health crisis. To this end, my lab has pioneered use of the Drosophila larval peripheral nervous system as a platform for identifying environmental signals influencing SSN development. Over the last several years we have focused on three interrelated questions: How do epidermal signals influence the form and function of SSNs? How do environmental signals influence growth control of SSNs? What are the molecular determinants of mechanosensitivity? In this seminar I’ll present our recent progress addressing these questions, in particular focusing on epidermal control of somatosensory neuron development, and discuss our plans for extending these studies.

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