Damon Runyon Researchers

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Wen Mai Wong, PhD

Multiple cancers, including prostate, breast, and gastrointestinal cancers, are known to be heavily innervated. However, the role of neurons and their signaling within the tumor microenvironment remains unknown. Previous work has shown that transecting the vagus nerve can block the progression of gastric cancer, emphasizing a critical role for the vagal neurons in this disease. However, these transections produce side effects, making it a difficult strategy to translate to the clinic. Dr. Wong [Kenneth G. and Elaine A. Langone Fellow] is proposing a new method to non-invasively silence neurons within the body. Specifically, she will use ultrasound to silence specific neurons in rodent models in order to determine the impact of these neurons on animal behavior and disease physiology, including the tumor microenvironment. Dr. Wong received her PhD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and her BS from St. Mary’s University.

Project title: "Modulation of neuronal circuitry using sonogenetics"
Institution: The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Named Award: Kenneth G. and Elaine A. Langone Fellow
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Sreekanth H. Chalasani, PhD
Cancer Type: All Cancers
Research Area: Neuroscience