September 12, 2017 – Quinn Hogan, MD, Professor and Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Anesthesiology, has recently been awarded a $2.3 million NIH grant to investigate sensory neuron function.
The grant, titled "Harnessing T-junction filtering; bidirectional control of sensory neuron impulse traffic,” was awarded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and will be distributed over five years. It will support research that will examine a novel process by which sensory neurons control the transmission of impulse trains through the dorsal root ganglion (DRG).
Dr. Hogan has previously identified the sensory neuron axon T-junction, where the axon coming from the neuronal cell body branches into peripheral and central process, as a critical control point of impulse regulation in health and disease. Additionally, his prior work shows that this control point can be modulated by electrical field stimulation, which accounts for the success of the clinical pain treatment modality of DRG stimulation. An important additional observation from the Hogan lab has been that the efferent activity that travels along sensory neurons can also be controlled at this point. While the primary function of sensory neurons is to convey activity from the peripheral receptors to the central nervous system, this efferent activity plays a critical role in the generation of inflammatory conditions, including pancreatitis, asthma, psoriasis, and arthritis.
The new grant will support work that extends observations from the Hogan lab that DRG stimulation can prevent the development of pathological joint changes in an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Hogan’s collaborators in this project include Bin Pan, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology; and Chris Pawela, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anesthesiology.
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