Our Research Focus

We investigate the biophysics of force-gated ion channels and cellular mechanotransduction. A particular strength of our lab is the development of novel biophysical approaches. Our research is important for understanding physiological processes for the sensing of external forces, such as light touch, and internal forces, such as cellular stiffness. It may help the development of treatments against human diseases, such as chronic pain, inflammatory pain, and itch.

Our Questions

Two main questions drive our work: 1) How do force-gated ion channels work? We want to understand how mechanical energy gates (activates, inactivates and deactivates) ion channels and how compromising specific aspects of gating leads to human diseases. 2) How do force-gated ion channels function in complex cellular environments? We aim to explain how many individual force-gated ion channels function in concert and give rise to complex mechanotransduction in living cells.

Our Favorite Force-Gated Ion Channels

Piezo1 and Piezo2               TREK1, TREK2, and TRAAK               TMEM63A, B, and C

We are Grateful to be Supported by


National Science Foundation

Holland-Trice Foundation

The Ruth K. Broad Biomedical Research Foundation

Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS)

Esther A. & Joseph Klingenstein Fund

The Kavli Foundation

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Duke University