College of Arts and Science
Ph.D., Wright State University
M.S., Wright State University
B.S., University of Akron
Circuit stability, energetics, plasticity, and respiratory physiology
We answer both applied and fundamental questions about how the nervous system helps animals survive in their environments. We focus most of our efforts on animals that experience challenges to the nervous system that tend to be big problems in many human diseases. These include inactivity of neuromuscular systems (think, “if you don’t use it you lose it”) and impaired oxygen and glucose transport (think, brain damage in stroke and cardiac arrest). By learning from animals that already “know” how to get around these problems, we up our chances of finding new and creative solutions to major human health issues.
The Santin Lab has two main research lines. First, the brain must generate the correct patterns of electrical output for proper behavior of the organism. We are trying to understand general principles that explain how the nervous system produces healthy activity across the lifespan, and in turn, how to improve neuronal function when the brain encounters disease stressors that throw off heathy function, such as inactivity and injury. Second, running a brain costs a lot of energy. When energy requirements are not met, healthy function of the nervous system collapses and brain cells die. We seek to understand how neural circuits use energy and how to modify those energetic processes to improve brain health during stroke.
Most of our current work uses the frog brain, as these animals provide unique insight into solutions for each of these problems. We take a “genes to behavior approach” and use a range of tools that allow us to make integrative discoveries. Some of these tools include patch clamp electrophysiology to study electrical properties of neurons, single-cell quantitative PCR and RNAseq to study gene expression in individual neurons, in vivo physiology (measurements of breathing, EMG to record muscle activity, respirometry to assess whole-body energetics), extracellular recording to assess circuit activity, and fluorescence imaging microscopy.