Im lab @ Haverford


Ouch! What was that? Oops, you got a paper cut while studying hard for your finals. Paper cuts hurt a lot, but wait… How do I sense this? What genes and What type of cells are involved in this process? 

It’s the next day and it still hurts. The spot is a little red and swollen, too. It is going to last a couple days.  Now it hurts when something presses on the spot, which did not cause such a discomfort before. How come? What is causing this? 

Nociception detects noxious stimuli as simple as a paper cut. While the wound heals, the sensitivity heightens but it is only temporary hypersensitivity, which is called nociceptive sensitization. On the other hand, chronic pain is a huge problem – many individuals suffer from chronic pain, not able to lead a normal life.

The Im lab aims to understand the underlying genetic and molecular mechanisms of nociception – acute and chronic pain – using fruit flies as our model organism. 

Drosophila pain sensory neuron – cell body and dendritic arbor imaged on a confocal microscope (third image) and then artistic modification on photoshop (rest of images).