Synapses in the Periphery: Uncovering Molecular Connections Between Nerves and Organs

2023 Seed Grant
Huaijin Ken Leon Loh, Ph.D.
Yale University

Our brain regulates physiologic processes such as blood pressure and heart rate by using the autonomic nervous system to deliver commands to the body’s organs. Although we know a lot about the neural pathways travelled from the brain to organs in the body, our understanding of the molecular glues mediating communication at sites of contact between autonomic nerves and non-neural cells in their target organs called ‘neuroeffector junctions’ is still incomplete. Using cutting-edge discovery tools in chemistry and biology, Dr. Loh’s research project aims to uncover what are these biomolecules used by the nervous system, and how defects in them can impact the neurologic control of physiologic processes like the levels of glucose in our blood in anticipation of a meal. Overall, this project will help us to understand general questions of how the brain controls the body and can shed insights on how neurological diseases can lead to metabolic dysfunction like diabetes.

Other Grants

Rebekah C. Evans, Ph.D., Georgetown University
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William J. Giardino, Ph.D. Stanford University
Deciphering the Neuropeptide Circuitry of Emotional Arousal in Narcolepsy
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Howard Gritton, Ph.D., University of Illinois
Attention Mechanisms Contributing to Auditory Spatial Processing.
Our world is composed of a rich mixture of sounds. We often process sounds including speech in the presence of many other competing auditory stimuli (e.g., voices in a crowded…
Nora Kory, Ph.D., Harvard University
Elucidating the Fates and Functions of Lactate in the Brain
The human brain requires significant energy to function. Despite accounting for only 2% of our body weight, the brain consumes a substantial 20% of the body’s energy, relying on a…