Painting representing the DNA for a gene involved in musculoskeletal pain. The letters are the DNA code for the gene, acid sensing ion channel 3 (ASIC3). The structure in the middle is a DNA helix. From this genetic code cells make a protein to eventually get expressed in pain receptors. My laboratory has spent many years trying to understand how ASIC3 mediates chronic musculoskeletal pain. It is an ion channel found on pain receptors in muscles and joints. When activated, by decreases in pH, it send signals to the central nervous system transmitting the pain signals to the brain. We have shown that this gene mediates pain associated with inflammation, chronic muscle pain, and exercise-induced pain. After injury the pain cells increase their production of this gene resulting in more protein in the pain cells of joints and muscles. Blocking ASIC3 can reduce muscle and joint pain. Our goal is to determine if this is a good potential new target to use to treat chronic and inflammatory pain.
I am a neuroscientist who envisions cells through art. I have always been interested in art, and started painting at a young age. I am also very interested in science, and pursued the healthcare industry as a physical therapist and followed that with a PhD in Anatomy. Anatomy is the study of the body including cells. My day job is as a Professor at the University of Iowa in The Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. I run an neuroscience research laboratory focusing on understanding the underlying mechanisms of pain and improving treatment for those with chronic pain. I also teach the next generation of physical therapists to treat people with pain and the next generation of scientists to study the mechanisms and treatment for pain. In my spare time, I paint cells. My medium of choice is acrylic pain, but i have experimented with other mediums as well.