Brian Burrell, Ph.D.
of Basic Biomedical Sciences
Research Interests: Neural Plasticity Related to Pain
Nociception (the perception of pain) is a critical function carried out by the nervous system that protects us from injury and death. Our laboratory is interested in the cellular mechanisms of how nociceptive signaling may be modulated, specifically focusing on endocannabinoid mediated long-term depression of nociceptive synaptic transmission. We are also interested in the neuro-evolution of endocannabinoid signaling, in particular, the role of TRPV channels in acting as endocannabinoid receptors. These studies utilize the medicinal leech as a model system because the leech brain is very well characterized in terms of the identity, functional role and synaptic connections. This makes it possible to carry out detailed analyses of pre– versus postsynaptic cellular mechanisms mediating synaptic plasticity and to link plasticity in individual neurons or synapses to changes at the behavioral level. This comparative approach can uncover fundamental mechanisms of nociception and endocannabinoid modulation that may also have applications for the treatment of chronic pain. This research supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1051734. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
TEDx Talk: "What a Leech Can Tell Us ABout How It Hurts". A recent talk I gave at the Tedx Sioux River symposium about our lab's research and the value of invertebrate model systems for biomedical research.
Reprint and data-sharing requests: Email Brian Burrell (see above) for e-copies of all articles from the lab and for data-sharing access.