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Acid sensing in physiological and pathophysiological states



Dr Ewan St. John Smith - Group leader

Fellow at Corpus Christi College

Member of the Naked Mole-Rat Initiative

Tel: +44 1223 334 048/334006
Fax: +44 1223 334100


neurobiology, nociception/pain, acid-sensing, ion channels

Investigator biography:

Ewan St. John Smith studied pharmacology at  the University of Bath before conducting his PhD with Peter McNaughton at the University of Cambridge. During this time he became interested in how sensory neurones are activated by acid, which lead to him conducting a postdoc with Gary Lewin in Berlin at the Max-Delbrück Centre to examine the acid insensitivity of naked mole-rats, research that was funded by a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Pursuing interests in the evolution of chemosensing he then spent a year with Niels Ringstad at NYU School of Medicine, on a Max Kade Foundation Fellowship, investigating how carbon dioxide activates neurones in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans.

Research in the Smith Lab is focused on understanding more about the molecular mechanisms by which stimuli activate neurones and the neuronal circuitry of behaviour. To this end, our research has two overarching aims: 

1) To elucidate the mechanisms by which acid activates pain-sensing neurones (nociceptors) in inflammatory pain and to identify the neuronal subsets involved in generating acid-pain.

2) To leverage the unusual phenotypes of the naked mole-rat (e.g. cancer-resistance, longevity, hypoxia/hypercapnia resistant and poikilothermy) to discover more about normal physiology in other mammals.

We use a range of techniques to investigate these areas: electrophysiology, molecular biology, imaging, immunohistochemistry and behaviour.

Lab members

(BBSRC DTP student)
(Visiting Student)

If you are interested in our research and are keen to do a PhD or postdoc in the lab then please contact Ewan.