Eshita Sengupta

Investigating novel mechanical receptors in the sensory nervous system

About me

I graduated with a Master’s in Biotechnology from D.Y. Patil University in Mumbai, India. Then, I obtained my master’s degree in molecular neurosciences from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands where my research internships focused around developing tools and techniques in order to understand the cellular mechanisms within neurons at a developing stage to correlate with dysfunction in aging. After graduating, I worked at the University as a research staff, supervising and working alongside bachelor students in the lab. In my current project, I aim to identify novel molecular receptors that code to noxious pain. My current project excites me as it allows me to use my knowledge and experience in molecular biology while also giving me the opportunity to work with innovative technology of genome wide screening and transcriptomics to identify molecules in the sensory nervous system.

My Project

How do mammals detect the harmful nature of blunt force, or sharp objects? How does the body defensively increase sensitivity of injured or inflamed tissues, making otherwise innocuous movements and touch feel painful? And how, as an inevitable consequence of aging, does the latter process go wrong over time, creating burdensome chronic pain? My project will try to answer these outstanding questions. In order to answer these questions, we must look at the sensory nerves that supply our organs with the ability to detect information about the physical and chemical nature of our environment. They do so via protein molecules called receptors. That are tuned to detect specific types of environmental cues. In the past decade, we have learned much about the receptors that detect heat, cold and light touch. Those responsible for painful touch, however, remain elusive. My project will use state-of the art technology combining functional genomics and electrophysiology to identify and study these proteins. Beyond furthering our knowledge of sensory physiology, these proteins will also serve as potential targets for developing new, more effective pain-relief therapies.