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May 10, 2021
Eric Chang is a Neuroscientist and Assistant Professor at the Institutes of Bioelectronic Medicine and Molecular medicine at the Feinstein Institutes of medical research at Northwell Health. His areas of interests are Neuro-immunology, electrophysiology, microscopy and bioengineering. In today’s episode, Eric talks to us about his work with the vagus nerve and approaches being used in his lab to understand signalling between the nervous system and immune system.
Top three takeaways:
[0:00] Ladan introduces the episode and the guest, Eric Chang
[1:50] Eric Chang introduces himself and his work. His lab is interested in finding the connection between the nervous system and immune system
[3:45] How is imaging different from electrophysiology and what are the advantages and disadvantages of both?
[6:10] “So I would say patch-clamp electrophysiology, which is patching a single cell with a glass pipette, is still the gold standard, but the tools are rapidly coming to the fore that are starting to replace that a little bit.”
[11:20] Eric talks about some of the challenges with imaging individual neurons connected to the vagus nerve, especially where there is a lot of movement.
[12:50] While the technology is quite small now, it’s not so small that it could quite fit into a necklace. Eric believes that somewhere in the next 5 - 10 years, something of the sort will be available.
[13:40] “Dr Tracey's work from two decades ago showed the discovery of something called the inflammatory reflex which is that If you electrically stimulate the vagus nerve under conditions of inflammation, let's say acute endotoxemia, then you can reduce levels of circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines”
[20:00] Eric discusses some of the tools used to tease apart different signals.
[23:05] Eric talks about some future breakthroughs he expects.
[27:00] “Yeah. So the nerve innervation exists for protection; it's for survival. We need to know when we're getting close to a fire”
[28:00] Eric talks about the importance of understanding pain.
[31:00] “There are the traditional senses that are related to exteroception, like sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. There's a plethora of as I mentioned, interoceptive signals as well that have to do with organ function.”