Dengke Ma, Ph.D.


Research Interests:

Genetic approaches to understanding physiology and diseases, oxygen-modulated metabolism and behavior; brain-heart-lung interaction and interoception; ischemic disease and tolerance; novel genes and pathways evolutionarily conserved in C. elegans and humans.

As humans, we drink when thirsty, eat when hungry, and increase our breathing and heart rates when short of oxygen. How do we (our bodies) know when and how to respond to changes in internal bodily states (e.g. loss of nutrient or oxygen)? Genes and traits that facilitate such underlying mechanisms confer great advantages for animal survival and are strongly selected for during evolution. Using both C. elegans and tractable mammalian model systems, we seek to understand the molecular, cellular and neural circuit basis of how animals sense and respond to changes in internal metabolic and energetic states to elicit behavior and maintain homeostasis. Dysfunction of these fundamental physiological processes leads to many disorders, including obesity, diabetes, neurological and cardiovascular diseases.

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