We study the development, function and dysfunction of the somatosensory system.
We are a lab in the Department of Molecular Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital &
the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.
Development, function and dysfunction of somatosensory circuits
Our lab studies the somatosensory circuits that mediate the sense of touch and sensations from the gastrointestinal system. We are interested in how sensory experience, beginning with peripheral sensory neurons, influences the development of circuits in the spinal cord and brain. A central tenet of our work is that variations in sensory sensitivity and experience between individuals, in particular due to genetic differences, contribute to the heterogeneity of individuals’ cognitive and social behaviors.
We have found that genetic mutations or alterations in peripheral sensory neuron function contribute to multiple symptoms observed in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The selective modulation of these neurons can improve ASD-related symptoms. Our research program combines genetics, anatomy, in vivo and in vitro electrophysiology, imaging, and behavior in mice as well as studies of human-derived neurons.