C. elegans motor neurons
Sphingolipid Metabolism Pathway
Worm Lab @ Marian Univ.
Our lab is interested in understanding the physiological, cellular, and molecular adaptations an organism makes in response to environmental challenges, such as stress and aging. Our environmental surroundings are filled with factors such as toxins, pathogens, temperature changes, disease states, and other challenges that can alter animal physiology and behavior. An animal must respond and adapt to these environmental challenges to survive. Our lab uses the model organism C. elegans, a roundworm. In particular, we are interested cellular signaling pathways, such as the sphingolipid metabolism pathway, that coordinate stress response system in animals. Furthermore, we want to determine how signaling pathways change with age and contribute to loss of healthspan, or the time within our lives in which we are "healthy." The interactions of our tissues (neuron, muscle, skin, intestine in worms) in response to environmental factors will be explored. Because C. elegans can be studied genetically, cellularly, and behaviorally with fast and manageable methodology, the experiments using worms will help us understand how other animals learn and respond to the environment.
Paper published in Nature Scientific Reports
Paper published in the Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education (JUNE)
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MY LATEST RESEARCH
C. elegans are an excellent model to study the underlying principles of aging. By studying how neuronal function, stress response, and general physiology change in old animals, we can better understand aging. In the video above, worms are "thrashing" in a liquid medium. We use movements, which are controlled by the nervous system, to examine how neuronal function declines in older animals. Other aging studies examine how animals respond to toxic chemicals, stressors, and pathogens at the cellular, genetic, and behavioral levels.
Gene regulation controls gene expression and protein abundance within cells. This is important for almost all cellular functions, and ultimately drives the responses of cells to its environment. We use genetics, molecular biology, and next generation sequencing techniques to discover new genetic pathways that alter cell and animal behavior.