December 19, 2017
PBIO seminar series: Ellen Lumpkin
Ellen Lumpkin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Somatosensory Biology in Physiology & Cellular Biophysics and Dermatology
host: John Tuthill
seminar abstract A rich variety of mechanosensitive cells trigger distinct skin sensations such as pressure, flutter and pain. A growing body of research indicates that epithelial cells play a key role in sensation by activating or modulating peripheral neurons in healthy skin. Dr. Lumpkin’s research aims to unveil how epithelial Merkel cells work in concert with the nervous system to generate different qualities of touch sensation. To tackle this question, her group uses neurophysiology, quantitative neuroanatomy, intersectional mouse genetics and optogenetics. Recently, they demonstrated that Merkel cells have dual roles in mechanosensation: they transduce sustained pressure, and amplify information transfer during dynamic touch, which encodes shapes and textures. The seminar will ocus on the molecular signaling mechanisms through which Merkel cells excite sensory neurons.