Our tactile world is rich, if not infinite. The flutter of an insect’s wings, a warm breeze, raindrops, and a mother’s gentle caress all impose mechanical forces upon our skin, and yet we encounter no difficulty in telling them apart and react differently to each. How do we recognize and interpret the myriad of tactile stimuli to perceive the richness of the physical world? Our lab utilizes the power of mouse molecular genetics to understand our sense of touch, from pain to pleasure and everything in between.
As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School I set out to understand the cellular and synaptic substrates underlying innocuous touch perception by elucidating the functional organization of sensory neurons in mouse hairy skin and uncovering the neural codes of touch perception in the spinal cord dorsal horn. Now in my own lab, I’m extending these studies with the use of new mouse genetic tools to dissect touch circuits from the skin to the brain, with the long term objective of uncovering an integrative model of touch perception in health and disease.