The cornea at the front of your eye has the highest density of nociceptors of any tissue in the body, and even the slightest touch to your eye can be painful. The Aicher Lab is particularly interested in what happens to these nerves, and pain, when corneal nerves are injured after things like eye surgery. We use rodent models to understand behavioral, cellular and molecular consequences of corneal nerve injury.
In a new collaboration with Anat Galor at University of Miami we are searching for protein biomarkers that predict ocular symptom outcomes after vision correction surgery.
The development of addiction causes complex changes in many brain regions, including reward pathways and learning networks. We collaborate with colleagues to understand the cells and receptors that mediate the neural plasticity that supports these learned habits. Our latest work is focused on parvalbumin neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex and their intriguing partners - perineural nets; studies done in collaboration with Barbara Sorg & Travis Brown Labs.
The autonomic nervous system provides vital control over the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and all organ systems. We are interested in neural mechanisms of autonomic regulation and have studied vagal afferents and their pathways into the brain through the nucleus of the solitary tract. Vagal afferent activation can produce analgesia and may be a mechanism for pain modulation by yoga and other breath practices.
Sympathetic dysregulation of the heart is a major contributor to lethal cardiovascular events. In a new collaboration with the Habecker and Andresen Labs, we are exploring the structural and functional changes in sympathetic ganglia after myocardial infarction or heart failure. A better understanding of the neural plasticity that occurs will lead to better treatments for cardiovascular disease, which still takes more American lives than any other disease.
CONFOCAL AND ELECTRON MICROSCOPY
Our lab specializes in localizing proteins of interest in the brain and in peripheral nerves using immunocytochemistry. We combine this with confocal or electron microscopy to reveal cellular and subcellular distributions of molecules of interest. We love collaborating with laboratories around the world to help answer the critical questions that will link structure and function in your favorite brain regions. Let's collaborate!
Physiology without anatomy is lost.