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Sensory neurophysiology and pain


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 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 acid activates pain-sensing neurones (nociceptors) in inflammation

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.

I lecture on several different courses including: MVSTIB NHB/NAB, MVSTIB MoDA, NSTIB Neurobiology, NSTIB Pharmacology, NSTII Neuroscience and NSTII Pharmacology. I am also a Fellow of Corpus Christi College where I supervise second year medics taking the MoDA course and second year NatScis taking the Pharmacology course.

Lab members

(Arthritis Research UK Postdoctoral Researcher)
(Postdoctoral Researcher)
, (EMBO Long Term Fellow)
(PhD Student, co-supervised with Dr Ruth Murrell-Lagnado)

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

The lab has already accepted a summer student for summer 2017 and so please do not contact Ewan with speculative applications.