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Department of Pharmacology

Sensory neurophysiology and pain


Key publications: 

Kozlenkov, A., Lapatsina, L., Lewin, G. R. and Smith, E. St. J. (2014). Subunit-specific inhibition of acid sensing ion channels by stomatin-like protein 1. J. Physiol., 592, 557-69.

Brand, J., Smith, E. St. J., Schwefel, D., Lapatsina, L., Poole, K., Omerbasic, D., Kozlenkov, A., Behlke, J., Lewin, G. R. and Daumke, O. (2012). A stomatin dimer modulates the activity of acid-sensing ion channels. EMBO J., 31, 3635 – 3646.

Smith, E. St. J., Omerbasic, D., Lechner, S. G., Anirudhan, G., Lapatsina, L. and Lewin, G. R. (2011). The physiological basis of acid insensitivity in the African naked mole rat. Science, 334, 1557 – 1560.

Investigator biography:

Ewan St. John Smith studied pharmacology at the University of Bath before conducting his PhD in the laboratory of Peter McNaughton FMedSci 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 in the laboratory of Gary Lewin in Berlin at the Max-Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine to examine the acid insensitivity of naked mole-rats, research that was funded by a research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Pursuing interests in the evolution of chemosensing he then spent a year in the laboratory of Niels Ringstad at NYU School of Medicine, with a Max Kade Foundation fellowship, investigating how carbon dioxide activates sensory 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 mechanisms by which pain-sensing neurone (nociceptor) excitability changes from health to disease

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

We use a range of techniques to investigate these areas: electrophysiology (patch-clamp and ex vivo)), molecular biology, imaging, immunohistochemistry and behaviour.

I lecture on several different courses including: MVSTIB NHB/NAB, MVSTIB MoDA, NSTIB Neurobiology, NSTIB Pharmacology, NSTII Neuroscience and NSTII Pharmacology, and I am the Course Organiser for the MVSTIB MoDA course.

I am also a Fellow of Corpus Christi College where I supervise second year medics taking the MoDA course and second year NatScistaking the Pharmacology course. I am also Director of Studies for 3rd and 4th year biologists, as well as being the Custodian of the Corpus Chronophage Clock.

Professor in Nociception
Deputy Head of Department
Dr Ewan  Smith

Contact Details

+44 (0) 1223 3 34048 / Lab: 3 34043
Not available for consultancy


Person keywords: 
neurobiology, nociception/pain, acid-sensing, ion channels