The Department of Physiology is proud to announce that one of our PhD students, Stephanie Mouchbahani Constance, has been awarded the prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship in recognition of her high standard of scholarly achievement. Stephanie is a second-year PhD student and is a member of Dr. Reza Sharif's lab. Well done, Stephanie!
Synopsis of her research:
Identification of the algogenic toxin in lionfish venom and its mechanism of action
The wealth of biodiversity in the world’s library of venoms and their toxins represents an enormous untapped resource that contains the scaffolds for the next generation of therapeutic s. Within the realm of venoms that have been studied, marine venoms represent only a small minority in comparison to those of insects and snakes. The red lionfish (Pterois volitans) is a venomous species responsible for one of the most painful stings in the ocean. There exists no anti-venom for its stings because the venom and its mechanism of action remain unknown.
Using electrophysiology and molecular techniques, I will uncover the molecular basis for the pain caused by lionfish venom. Furthermore,I will interrogate the specific molecular changes that predators of the lionfish have evolved which allow them to consume the lionfish unharmed. These insights will allow me to identify pharmaceutical targets for the development of specific and efficient pain treatments.