Post-graduate years at the Monell Chemical Senses Center
Upon graduation, I joined the laboratory of Dr. Diego Restrepo at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a non-profit research institute dedicated to understanding the chemical senses (smell, taste, chemesthesis). Our laboratory focused on understanding the physiology and molecular biology of human olfactory neurons.
My research focused on understanding the mechanisms employed by human olfactory neurons to elicit calcium fluxes in response to odorant stimulation. Our collaborators at Thomas Jefferson University obtained biopsies from healthy adult volunteers, and we isolated healthy neurons from this tissue. I used calcium imaging techniques on these cells to study the physiology of these cells.
Image above shows a sample olfactory neuron. The left panels show pseudocolored images of the neurons loaded with the calcium-sensitive dye. The top-right image shows the computer-calculated calcium concentrations, with different colors showing different concentrations of calcium. The lower-right image is a photomicrograph of a neuron.
Sample publications can be found here:
- Rawson et al. Selectivity and Response Characteristics of Human Olfactory Neurons
- Gomez et al. Modulation of odor-induced increases in [Ca2+]i by inhibitors of protein kinases A and C in rat and human olfactory receptor neurons
- Rawson et al. The Use of Olfactory Receptor Neurons (ORNs) from Biopsies to Study Changes in Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases
- Hahn et al. Aberrant Intracellular Calcium Signaling in Olfactory Neurons From Patients With Bipolar Disorder
I also started working with esthesioneuroblastoma cells to use these as a model system for cellular function.
This led to my culturing the human olfactory epithelium for in vitro studies of olfactory neurogenesis and cell function.
Some sample publications include: