My research focuses on understanding the neurophysiological control of gastrointestinal functions in health and disease states. Functions of the gastrointestinal tract are largely controlled by the enteric nervous system in concert with the input from the central nervous system. The enteric nervous system resides within the wall of the gastrointestinal tract. It is the intrinsic innervation of the bowel and the only part of the peripheral nervous system that is capable of mediating reflex behavior in the absence of input from the central nervous system. My goals are to understand the organization of the two interconnecting neural plexuses that comprise the enteric nervous system, and to determine how enteric microcircuits and the activity of individual neurons within these circuits control motility, secretion, and epithelial barrier function of the gut in health and disease states.
Research areas include:
Neurophysiology of the enteric nervous system
Functional gastrointestinal disorders
The enteric nervous system is composed of two neuronal plexuses. The myenteric pelxus is located in between the circular and longitudinal muscle layers and is responsible for the control of gastrointestinal motility. The submucosal plexus is located underneath the mucosa layer and is responsible for the control of gastrointestinal secretion and local blood flow. (Photo courtesy of Dr. JD Wood, Ohio State University)
The myenteric plexus of the guinea pig small intestine. (Red: CRF1 receptor; green: anti-neuronal protein HuC/D)
The submucosal plexus of the guinea pig small intestine. (Red: CRF1 receptor; green: anti-human neuronal protein HuC/D)
Electrophysiology: Intracellular recording; Ussing chamber recording for measuring intestinal epithelial ion secretion.
Neuroanatomy: Intracellular dye injection for single neuron morphological assessment, retrograde labeling, immunohistochemistry, double and triple-labeling fluorescence microscopy and confocal microscopy, digital image processing and analysis.
Molecular biology: RNA isolation, RT-PCR, real-time PCR, protein extraction, gel electrophoresis, Western blotting, immunoprecipitation, siRNA knockdown.
Cell biology: Primary neuronal culture, tissue culture, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).