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Leena S. Knight, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Biology Department
Whitman College

EMAIL & Phone: 509.527.4965

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Welcome to the Knight research lab! Our research lab combines cellular neurophysiology (L.Knight) with systems level neurophysiology (T.Knight) and is actively pursuing various lines of investigation:

Inhibitory signaling in animal models of epilepsy.
Inhibition plays a central role in neuronal signaling and is a key regulator of excitability in nervous tissue. We've designed a set of experiments incorporating intracellular, sharp electrode electrophysiology and cellular labeling with immunocytochemistry for cellular markers for interneuron populations (e.g., GAD67) to assess alterations in inhibitory signaling that give rise to hyperexcitability.

The role of gut-derived hormones in neuroplasticity.
New research (mostly at the clinical level) provides strong evidence that gut derived peptide hormones of the endocrine system (e.g., insulin, ghrelin, obestatin) can influence learning/memory. To better establish the influence of these hormones on the nervouse tissue we are using a combination of extracellular, field recordings and intracellular, sharp electrode recordings to investigate the influence of these hormones on individual neurons and neuronal circuits.

Neuropeptides & Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In collaboration with colleagues at the Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) at the Veterans Administration (VA) Puget Sound Hospital in Seattle we've identified a potentially unique role for neuropeptides, e.g., Substance P, in the development of PTSD. We are utilizing a combination of behavioral techniques, in situ hybridization and immunocytochemical techniques in these studies to further our understanding of the mechanisms underlying PTSD.

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