Division of Intramural Research
Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits
Alexander (Alex) Chesler, Ph.D. heads the Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits. This lab is interested in the neurons and circuits of the somatosensory system and the changes that they undergo during injury and inflammation. Currently, research in the lab is focused on discovering new molecules involved in the transduction of somatosensory stimuli and studying the regions of the brain that encode innocuous versus painful stimuli. Our work centers on a class of sensory neurons (called C fibers) that encode thermal, noxious, and mechanical stimuli. To investigate these questions, we are using a variety of methods in the lab to study transgenic mice that include physiology, two-photon imaging, optogenetics, and behavior.
Dr. Chesler received his degrees from Bard College (B.A., 1995) and Columbia University (Ph.D., 2005). His graduate study, in the laboratory of Dr. Stuart Firestein, was focused on the function and development of olfactory sensory neurons. He did his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. David Julius at the University of California, San Francisco, where he combined physiological, anatomical, and behavioral approaches to study the pharmacology of somatosensory neurons. He joined the NIH intramural pain program (NCCIH) in 2013, where his laboratory now employs multidisciplinary approaches to study how sensory stimuli (such temperature, touch, and environmental irritants) are detected and encoded by the somatosensory system.
Maria Anaya, Postbac IRTA
Maria Anaya is a postbac IRTA in the Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits. She can be reached at email@example.com or (301)594-3296.
Arnab Barik, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Arnab Barik, Ph.D., is a postdoc fellow in the Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 451.2026.
Marek Brodzki, Special Volunteer
Marek Brodzki is a special volunteer in the Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits. He can be reached at email@example.com or (301) 435-5517.
Nima Ghitani, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Nima Ghitani, Ph.D., is a postdoc fellow in the Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 443-7388.
Ruby Lam, Graduate Student
Ruby Lam is a graduate student in the Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits. She can be reached at email@example.com or (301) 594-3296.
Maximilian Nagel, Ph.D., Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow
Max Nagel, Ph.D., is a visiting postdoc fellow in the Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 435.5517.
Alec Nickolls, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow
Alec Nickolls, Ph.D., is a postdoc fellow in the Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits. He can be reached at email@example.com or (301) 594.5191.
Marcin Szczot, Ph.D., Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow
Marcin Szczot, Ph.D., is a visiting postdoc fellow in the Section on Sensory Cells and Circuits. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 496.8129.
Colin Burnes, Postbac IRTA
Taylor Gordon, Postbac IRTA (2017-2018)
Eileen Nguyen, Postbac IRTA (2014-2016)
Martin Rasmussen, Graduate Student
Mathew Seltzer, Postbac IRTA
Philina Yee, Postbac IRTA
- Barik A, Thompson JH, Seltzer M, Ghitani N, Chesler AT. A brainstem-spinal circuit controlling nocifensive behavior. Neuron. November 15, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].
- Szczot, M., Liljencrantz, J., Ghitani, N., Barik, A., Lam, R., Thompson, J. H., … Chesler, AT. PIEZO2 mediates injury-induced tactile pain in mice and humans(link is external). Science Translational Medicine. 2018; 10(462), eaat9892.
- Ghitani N, Barik A, Szczot M, Thompson JH, Li C, Le Pichon CE, Krashes MJ, Chesler AT. Specialized mechanosensory nociceptors mediating rapid responses to hair pull. Neuron. 2017;95(4):944-954.
- Chesler AT, Szczot M, Bharucha-Goebel D, et al. The role of PIEZO2 in human mechanosensation. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2016;375(14):1355-1364.
- Szczot M, Pogorzala LA, Solinski HJ, Young L, Yee P, Le Pichon CE, Hoon M, Chesler AT, et al. Cell-type-specific splicing of Piezo2 regulates mechanotransduction. Cell Reports 21 (10). Elsevier:2760–71.
Reviews and Other Publications
- Wlaschin J, Gluski JM, Nguyen E, Silberberg H, Thompson JH, Chesler AT, et al. Dual leucine zipper kinase is required for mechanical allodynia and microgliosis after nerve injury. eLife. 2018;7:e33910.
- Chesler AT, Szczot M. Piezo ion channels: portraits of a pressure sensor(link is external). eLife. 2018;7:e34396.
- Lam RM, Chesler AT. Shear elegance: a novel screen uncovers a mechanosensitive GPCR. The Journal of General Physiology. 2018;150(7):907-910.
- Wlaschin JJ, Gluski JM, Nguyen E, Silberberg H, Thompson JH, Chesler AT, et al. Dual leucine zipper kinase is required for mechanical allodynia and microgliosis after nerve injury. eLife. 2018;7:e33910.
- Pitcher M, Le Pichon CE, Chesler A. Functional properties of C-low threshold mechanoreceptors (C-LTMRs) in nonhuman mammals. In: Olausson H, Wessberg J, Morrison I, et al, eds. Affective Touch and the Neurophysiology of CT Afferents. Springer, New York, NY; 2016:31-48.
- Podcast: The Pain Beat – Pain Targets: Molecules? Cells? Circuits? Systems? (Pain Research Forum)
- Podcast: Understanding Touch and Pain Sensation: A Podcast with Alexander Chesler (RELIEF)
- Article: Research in Action: A Feel For Collaboration (NIH Intramural Research Program)
- Research Spotlight: Study Provides New Information on Mechanisms Involved in Touch Sensation and Self-Perception of Body in Space (9/22/16)
- Article: How a 'Sixth Sense' Helps Simone Biles Fly, and the Rest of Us Walk (NPR)
- Article: Unraveling a Genetic Clue to Our “Sixth Sense” (CBS News)
- Article: Researchers Discover Gene Behind ‘Sixth Sense’ in Humans (Science)
- Alec Nickolls, a postdoctoral researcher, discusses his research on an extremely rare condition that causes the loss of a "sixth sense," called proprioception, that allows us to keep track of where our body parts are in space.