Leigh D. Plant
Research Associate Professor
Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Research Faculty, School of Pharmacy
Office: ISEC 427
Ph.D., University of Leeds, UK
Bachelors of Science (Hons Pharmacology), University of Liverpool, UK
Specializations: Pharmacology, ion channel biophysics, electrophysiology, cell signaling
Research Interests: Ion channels are protein machines that generate and transmit electrical signals in the body. My research focuses on pathways that change ion channel activity to cause disease in humans. Combining state of the art techniques, including electrophysiology, spectroscopy, single-molecule imaging and super-resolution microscopy, we study real-time changes in ion channel function and regulation in living neurons and cardiac cells. Using this approach, we found that the SUMOylation pathway can regulate electrical signal via direct interactions with specific potassium and sodium in the brain and heart. We showed that SUMOylation causes a rapid increase in the activity of voltage-gated sodium channels in response to an acute decrease in oxygen, a condition associated with several disease conditions, including stroke. I have received a fundable score on a NIH R01 grant to pursue independent studies on the pharmacology and the mechanics basis for these effects on potassium and sodium channels and will be looking forward to working with graduate students in this effort.