Faculty Mentors

Professor Monica Driscoll, is interested in developmental neurogenetics, molecular genetics of neuronal cell death, mechanosensory transduction in touch and feeling, molecular mechanisms of aging.  One of the looming mysteries in signal transduction is the question of how mechanical signals such as pressure or force delivered to a cell are interpreted to direct biological responses.  A long-standing problem in the mechanotransduction field has been that genes encoding mechanically-gated channels eluded cloning efforts resulting in a large gap in our understanding of their function.  A new family of ion channels (the degenerin channels) are hypothesized to function as the central mediators of touch transduction and proprioception (how the body maintains coordinated movement) in C. elegans.  Her lab combines genetic molecular and electrophysiological approaches to determine and compare the composition/regulation of mechanosensitive complexes in an effort to contribute to the understanding of the function of this newly discovered channel class. 


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