Michael J. Welsh, M.D.
The major neuroscience effort of the laboratory focuses on the biology of DEG/ENaC channels. These are a novel class of non-voltage gated cation channels, including ASIC1, -2, and -3 in mammals and the Pickpocket genes in Drosophila. The laboratory is interested in the function of these channels in the peripheral nervous system where they may serve as sensory receptors, including sensors for touch, temperature, salt taste, moisture, and pain. We are examining the function, cell biology, physiology and behavioral role of these channels in vitro and in genetically altered flies and mice. We also study the function of these channels in the central nervous system where they play an important role in synaptic plasticity, learning and memory. They may also make an important contribution to fear, including panic disorders. The lab offers the opportunity to take a variety of approaches to this field, and it provides the opportunity to work with investigators with diverse expertise. This research should lead to a better understanding of neuronal sensory systems and novel targets for therapeutic intervention. The other major focus of the lab is to understand the biology of cystic fibrosis, a common lethal genetic disease. We are investigating the function of the CFTR chloride channel, the pathogenesis of the disease, and the development of gene therapy..
- Ion channels and their abnormalities in disease