It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.
1. The role of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in axon growth and regeneration
Cholinergic neurotransmission plays an important role in brain and spinal cord development and can contribute to synaptic plasticity as well as regeneration. We are examining the involvement of the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine (nACh) receptor in early axon growth in the brain and spinal cord using various cellular tools including real-time calcium and cytoskeletal imaging.
2. Identification and charachterization of nicotinic receptor interactomes in neural and immune cells
Systematic drug use is associated with significant changes in the immune system. In the case of nicotine, action on nAChRs in immune cells presents a path by which smoking can lead to immune-associated disorders including various cancers and inflammatory disease such arthritis and asthma. In collaboration with Dr. Imad Damaj, we have uncovered a mechanism of nAChR function in CD4+ T cells and hypothesize that this process mediates long-term changes in immunity in smokers.