Welcome to the website for collaborative projects between the Slav Bagriantsev and Elena Gracheva laboratories at Yale University School of Medicine. Our laboratories have joined forces to start a multidisciplinary research program aimed at deep understanding of the molecular basis of sensory physiology and thermoregulation.

We want to know how different stimuli, such as temperature and mechanical force, are sensed and translated into adaptive biological processes in normal and extreme environmental conditions. We employ a wide array of methods and techniques, including deep sequencing, differential transcriptomics, electrophysiology, biochemistry and behavioural paradigms, to clone and characterize novel membrane receptors that perceive enviromental inputs and convert them into electrical signals in the somatosensory neurons. Some of the specific questions we ask are: what molecules detect enviromental or body temperature? Are these the same or different molecules? How do they work? What molecules detect different aspects of mechanosensitivity, such as touch, light brush or vibration? How do they work?

To answer these and other fascinating questions, we employ non-standard animal models. We are very proud to have established a colony of hibernating thirteen-lined ground squirrels. During hibernation, these animals lower their body temperature to 4oC, but do not exhibit distress or discomfort. Upon arousal, they come back to normal, showing a unique adaptability of their somatosensory and thermoregulatory systems. Unlike most other warm-blooded animals, hibernators exist in alternating ‘modes’, providing a unique opportunity to understand the molecular basis of various physiological processes at a level that is unachievable with the standard rodent systems.

We are in search for talented postdocs and graduate students who want to join our groups to do cutting-edge science in the superb academic enviroment of Yale.