Dr. Ewan St John Smith University of Cambridge, UK

1 Talk

Dr Ewan St. John Smith studied pharmacology at the University of Bath before conducting his PhD in the laboratory of Prof. 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... read morein the laboratory of Prof. Gary Lewin in Berlin at the Max-Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine to examine the acid insensitivity of naked mole-rats which 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 Prof. 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.

In 2013, Ewan started his lab at the Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, and research in his 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: To elucidate mechanisms by which pain-sensing neurone (nociceptor) excitability changes from health to disease, and 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.

Research in his lab has led to the comprehensive characterisation of colonic sensory neurones, i.e. those neurones that trigger pain in conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, and the demonstration that synovial fluid from patients with osteoarthritis can make knee-innervating sensory neurones hyperexcitable in a way that healthy synovial fluid cannot.

In addition to his research, Ewan lectures on several different undergraduate courses at the University of Cambridge, teaching Medics, Vets, and Natural Scientists. Ewan is also a Fellow of Corpus Christi College where he supervises second year Medics and Natural Scientists, as well as acting as Director of Studies for 3rd and 4th year Natural Scientists (Biology), as well as being the Custodian of the Corpus Chronophage Clock.