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Kara Marshall, Ph.D.

Kara Marshall, Ph.D.

Contact Information
Phone - 713-798-8428

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine

Investigator, Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital

McNair Scholar, McNair Medical Institute at the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation 

HHMI Freeman Hrabowski Scholar

Pew Scholar

Research Focus: Interoception and the role of mechanosensation in physiology and disease

The Marshall lab studies interoception, which is the nervous system's representation of sensations from within the body. We focus on mechanical force sensation, which is a critical part of many systems - the gastrointestinal system churns, squeezes and stretches in the process of digestion, and the sensation of the bladder filling is critical to know when it's time to go. Detecting these cues is critical for driving basic daily functions in our lives. Moreover, when we become acutely aware of internal sensations, it is often in the context of pain. The molecular and cellular identities of mechanosensors that govern these important physiological processes, in both health and disease, remain poorly understood.

Beyond governing the basic functions of our body, interoception can have effects on our cognition and mood. The connections between internal sensations and cognition are not well understood. We use a variety of techniques to begin to parse the mechanistic underpinnings of these exciting mysteries at the molecular, cellular, and behavioral levels. This includes using genetic models, in vivo imaging, physiology, neuronal tracing, opto-and chemo-genetics, and custom behavioral measurements. Overall, investigations in the Marshall lab define how the brain senses the body. 



Marshall KL, Saade D, Ghitani G, Coombs AM, Szczot M, Keller J, Ogata T, Daou I, Stowers LT, Bonnemann CG, Chesler AT, Patapoutian A. (2020) PIEZO2 in sensory neurons and urothelial cells coordinates urination. Nature. 588(7837):290-295. PMID: 33057202

Zeng W, Marshall KL, Min S, Daou I, Chapleau MW, Abboud FM, Liberles SD, Patapoutian A. (2018) PIEZOs mediate neuronal sensing of blood pressure and the baroreceptor reflex. Science. 362(6413):464-467. PMID: 30361375

Murthy S.E., Loud M.C., Daou I., Marshall K.L., Schwaller F., Kühnemund J., Francisco A.G., Keenan W.T., Dubin A.E., Lewin G.R., Patapoutian A. (2018) The mechanosensitive ion channel Piezo2 mediates sensitivity to mechanical pain in mice. Science Translational Medicine. 10(462). PMID:30305457

Marshall, K.L*., Clary, R.C.*, Baba, Y., Orlowsky, R.L., Gerling, G.J., Lumpkin, E.A. (2016) Touch receptors undergo rapid remodeling in healthy skin. Cell Reports. 17(7):1719-1727. PMID: 27829143  *co-first authorship

Marshall, K.L., Chadha, M., DeSouza, L.A., Sterbing-D’Angelo, S.J., Moss, C.F., Lumpkin, E.A. (2015) Somatosensory substrates of flight control in bats. Cell Reports. 11(6): 851-858. PMID: 25937277 [cover art]

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