David Ginty Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, USADavid GintyProfessor, Department of Neurobiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, USA
Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, USA
Functional organization of the mammalian tactile sensory system: a view from the periphery by David Ginty
Summary: The sense of touch is key to our experience of the world around us, but unraveling the neural pathways underpinning this key sense has been a challenge. Research in my laboratory uses the mouse as a model system to address the development, organization, and functionof neural circuits that underlie the perception of touch and pain, in health and disease.
In this lecture, I will describe the range of mouse genetic tools we have generated that enable interrogation of the major physiologically distinct classes of low-threshold mechanosensory neurons (LTMRs), which are the primary cutaneous sensory neurons that mediate our sense of touch, as well as nociceptors, which detect painful stimuli. I will also describe a complementary set of genetic tools useful for studying spinal cord interneuron and projection neuron subtypes. These somatosensory nervous system tools have enabledvisualization, targeted in vitro and in vivo electrophysiological recordings and imaging, and functional manipulation of LTMRs as well asdorsal horn and brainstem LTMR circuit components that underlie the sense of touch. I will then present recent work aimed at defining a conceptual framework for understanding how ensembles of LTMR activities are integrated and processed in the spinal cord and brainstem, and new insights into the properties and brain targets of ascending spinal pathways that underlie discriminative and affective touch.
Short biography: David Ginty is the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received his PhD degree in physiology from East Carolina University in 1989 and did postdoctoral research on neuronal signaling mechanisms with John Wagner and Michael Greenberg at Harvard Medical School. In 1995 he became a faculty member in the Department of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. In 2013 he returned to the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, where he is currently the associate director of Harvard’s Program in Neuroscience. Ginty is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Research in the Ginty laboratory addresses the development, organization, and function of neural circuits that underlie the perception of touch and pain.