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Ellen A. Lumpkin, PhD
Mechanisms of Sensory Signaling in a Mammalian Touch Receptor
Associate Professor of Somatosensory Biology, Departments of Dermatology and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, VA 24016
The goal of Dr. Lumpkin’s laboratory is to crack the neural code that informs the brain about objects in our dynamic environment. Cutaneous sensory neurons are the first component of the circuitry that underlies skin sensations. The skin is innervated by a variety of touch-sensitive neurons that produce distinctive patterns of electrical signaling. The principles governing such unique patterns in any type of cutaneous sensory neuron are not defined. Dr. Lumpkin’s research is directed at determining several key factors of this process, including how unique neural signals are governed by the cellular architecture of cutaneous sensory neurons, the number of epidermal cells that are synaptically connected to an afferent, and the skin’s elastic properties. Dr. Lumpkin will describe how she combines neurophysiological and computational approaches along with quantitative analysis of skin innervation to answer these questions. She will also consider how homeostatic mechanisms that allow cutaneous neurons to maintain reliable sensory signaling as the skin remodel during growth.