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David Julius, PhD

Title: Professor; Chair, Physiology, UCSF School of Medicine
School: UCSF School of Medicine
Department: Physiology
Email: David.Julius@ucsf.edu
profiles.ucsf.edu/david.julius

Overview

My group is interested in understanding how signals are received and transmitted by the nervous system. In one aspect of our research, we have exploited the power of natural products to elucidate molecular mechanisms of touch and pain sensation. For example, we have asked how capsaicin, the main pungent ingredient in "hot" chili peppers, elicits burning pain, and how menthol, the cooling agent in mint leaves, evokes an icy cool sensation. Using these agents as pharmacological probes, we have identified ion channels on sensory nerve fibers that are activated by heat or cold, providing molecular insight into the process of thermosensation. With the aid of genetic, electrophysiological, and behavioral methods, we are asking how these ion channels contribute to the detection of heat or cold, and how their activity is modulated in response to tumor growth, infection, or other forms of injury that produce inflammation and pain hypersensitivity.

In addition to our work on somatosensation and pain, we also study the structure and function of specific neurotransmitter receptors, such as those activated by serotonin or extracellular nucleotides, and use genetic methods to identify roles for these receptors in physiological and behavioral processes, such as feeding, anxiety, pain, thrombosis, and cell growth and motility.

Research Activities and Funding

ASIC Channels and Pain
NIH/NINDS R01NS081115
Sept. 1, 2012 - May 31, 2017 | Role: Principal Investigator

Exploiting toxins to probe sensory signaling
NIH/NINDS R01NS065071
July 1, 2009 - April 30, 2014 | Role: Principal Investigator

Exploiting toxins to probe sensory signaling
NIH/NINDS R37NS065071
April 1, 2009 - Aug. 31, 2018 | Role: Principal Investigator

Cellular Physiology of Sensory Ion Channels
NIH/NINDS R01NS055299
July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2017 | Role: Principal Investigator

Molecular Basis of Mechanoreception in Sensory Neurons
NIH/NINDS R21NS049226
Sept. 1, 2005 - Aug. 31, 2008 | Role: Principal Investigator

LONGTERM CHANGES IN THE MAMMALIAN BRAIN
NIH/NIMH P50MH048200
Sept. 1, 1991 - Aug. 31, 2002 | Role: Co-Investigator

Trigeminal Pain, Mechanisms and Control
NIH/NIDCR P01DE008973
Sept. 1, 1990 - Aug. 31, 2007 | Role: Co-Investigator

Molecular Mechanisms of Receptor and Channel Function
NIH/NINDS R01NS047723
April 1, 1990 - June 30, 2017 | Role: Principal Investigator

Molecular Mechanism of Receptor and Channel Function
NIH/NINDS R37NS047723
April 1, 1990 - Aug. 31, 2012 | Role: Principal Investigator

MOLECULAR MECHANISMS OF RECEPTOR AND CHANNEL FUNCTION
NIH/NIGMS R01GM044298
April 1, 1990 - March 31, 2004 | Role: Principal Investigator

Bio-Organic Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Resource
NIH P41RR001614
March 1, 1982 - May 31, 2015 | Role: Co-Investigator