Structural Biology Program

The Melinda Diver Lab

Research

Melinda Diver
Melinda M. Diver, PhD
Assistant Member

The Diver laboratory focuses on ion channels, and other membrane-embedded proteins, involved in somatosensation and pain signaling. The sensation of pain protects our bodies from harm, but maladaptive changes in this sensory modality can lead to debilitating persistent pain disorders. We aim to enhance our biophysical and molecular understanding of sensory transduction and pain sensation and, specifically, how modulation of ion channels in primary afferent somatosensory neurons contributes to chronic pain. Thus, a major goal of ours is to determine mechanisms whereby tissue injury and inflammation enhance the sensitivity of primary afferent nociceptors to noxious (hyperalgesia) and innocuous (allodynia) stimuli. Another important goal of ours is to visualize these ion channels in more physiological environments – an absolute necessity for bridging the disconnect between in vitro membrane protein studies and human disease.

Our broad and innovative approach exploits a range of scale, spanning from tissues to cells to high-resolution structures. By exploiting structural approaches, we explore how sensory ion channels detect a wide range of physical and chemical stimuli, and how they integrate these stimuli to play critical roles in pathophysiology. We focus on questions concerning mechanisms and consequences of lipid-protein and protein-protein interactions and their effects on structure, biophysics, and physiology. As merely solving a structure provides only a superficial understanding of a protein’s function, we emphasize complementary techniques that provide a more complete understanding of function and how it relates to human biology and therapeutics. Fully comprehending the complexities of sensory ion channels, and their regulatory partners, is critical to developing novel, non-opioid analgesics to improve the quality of life for those suffering from chronic pain.

Publications

People

Melinda Diver

Melinda M. Diver, PhD

Assistant Member

  • The Diver laboratory aims to enhance our biophysical and molecular understanding of sensory transduction and pain sensation and, specifically, how modulation of ion channels in primary afferent somatosensory neurons contributes to chronic pain.
  • BSc, Biochemistry, University of British Columbia (2007)
  • PhD, Biochemistry and Structural Biology, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences (2015)
  • Postdoc, University of California, San Francisco (2021)
[email protected]
Email Address
212-639-2131
Office Phone
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Members

Omar Almakki

Research Technician

Keith Bartlett

Administrative Assistant

Lab Affiliations

Achievements

  • Josie Robertson Investigator (2021-2026)
  • NCCIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) (2019-2024)
  • A. P. Giannini Postdoctoral Fellowship and Career Award (2017-2019)
  • American Heart Association Pre-doctoral Fellowship (2012-2013)
  • Dorris J. Hutchinson Fellowship (2010-2011)

Lab News & Events

September 1, 2021 - Diver lab opens. Come join us!

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Disclosures

Doctors and faculty members often work with pharmaceutical, device, biotechnology, and life sciences companies, and other organizations outside of MSK, to find safe and effective cancer treatments, to improve patient care, and to educate the health care community.

MSK requires doctors and faculty members to report (“disclose”) the relationships and financial interests they have with external entities. As a commitment to transparency with our community, we make that information available to the public.

Melinda M. Diver discloses the following relationships and financial interests:

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