The intoxicating science of animal venom. What you need to know
In the growing field of venomics, scientists are using deadly venoms from frogs, snakes and centipedes to block pain, fight disease and even map the human mind.
Ashlee Rowe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Graduate Program in Cellular & Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Oklahoma. Rowe uses scorpions and their predators as a model to investigate the molecular and biophysical interactions between venom peptides and their targets, ion channels expressed in sensory and neuromuscular tissues. Her characterization of venom peptides that activate pain pathway ion channels led to the discovery of genetic variation in the pain pathway of wild species of predatory mice. This genetic variation converts pain-inducing peptides into pain-blocking analgesics. The goal of the Rowe lab is to leverage this discovery into a strategy for engineering new pain therapeutics. Rowe received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health, and funds from the National Science Foundation and DoD Army Research Office to development this model system. Rowe earned her PhD in the Zoology Department at North Carolina State University, with a concentration in animal behaviour and genetics.