Major research aims
Within every phylum of the animal kingdom, voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels are nature’s answer to the need for fast intra-organism communication and coordination. Utilizing the Na+ gradient across the cell membrane, they generate electrical signals that telegraph messages to and from a central hub.
Not surprisingly, Nav channels support many critical physiological processes such as sensory perception, heart and brain function, and muscle movement, and are targeted by drugs as well as animal venoms. These fascinating molecules have been at the core of our research for 20 years.
Excitable cells such as cardio myocytes and neurons have the ability to change in a controlled manner their membrane potential eliciting an action potential. Voltage-dependent and -independent ionchannels are the molecular regulators underlying this cellular excitability. My research is specialized in structure-function analysis and pharmacology of ion channels using electrophysiological and optical techniques. This includes the patch-clamp technique in its different settings that can be combined with imaging techniques to do Ca2+ imaging simultaneously or performing voltage-clamp fluorometry. The specialized electrophysiological techniques are complemented with a fully equipped wet-lab for doing standard biochemical and molecular biology work to clone channels, create channels mutants, detect protein levels, co-IP for studying channel complexes, do transient transfection of cells or create stable cell lines.