Research Interests:

ROLE OF NEUROGENIC INFLAMMATION IN PANCREATIC CANCER

Why does pancreatic inflammation lead to cancer, and can this malignant transformation be prevented?
Pancreatic inflammation is known to be a major risk factor for pancreatic cancer. However, the underlying mechanism is unknown. We have discovered that sensory neurons that innervate the pancreas play a key role in both the inflammation and the development of cancer. Current studies are aimed at identifying the underlying mechanisms. This insight could be used for the development of treatments that prevent pancreatic cancer in high risk-individuals.

Ablation of sensory neurons in a genetic model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma slows initiation and progression of cancer. Saloman, J.L., K.M. Albers, D. Li, D.J. Hartman, H.C. Crawford, E.A. Muha, A.D. Rhim, and B.M. Davis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2016; 113(11): 3078-3083.
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USING OPTOGENETIC AND VIRAL TOOLS TO CONTROL BLADDER FUNCTION AND PAIN

Can painful bladder syndromes be treated by inhibiting bladder afferents?
Interstitial cystitis and overactive bladder are chronic urological disorders characterized by increased micturition frequency and urgency. Overactive bladder also causes significant pelvic pain. These symptoms are caused by the abnormal activity of bladder afferents. We have discovered that manipulation of bladder afferents using optogenetic strategies can regulate the visceromotor reflex (a surrogate for bladder pain) as well as control the micturition reflex. Now we are extending this work to develop effective treatments.