Date of Award



© 2018 Courtney Brann

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Sciences



First Advisor

Geoffrey Ganter

Second Advisor

Ian Meng

Third Advisor

Lei Lei


Over 100 million people suffer from the effects of chronic pain in the United States alone. This burden also impacts the U.S. economy; 600 billion dollars annually is spent on medical care, medications, and lost productivity in the workplace. Current opioid treatments cause adverse effects including nausea, constipation, tolerance, and addiction liability. The neuroplastic process of pain sensitization is thought to perpetuate chronic pain, but too little is known about its mechanisms. Components of the pathways that connect injury and pain sensitization are likely to be valuable targets for novel medications for the relief or prevention of chronic pain. Utilizing the Drosophila melanogaster cell targeting and RNA interference toolkit, our lab investigates the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) pathway and its role in ultraviolet light (UV) injury-induced nociceptive sensitization. BMPs are well known as secreted developmental morphogens that control imaginal disc patterning by binding membrane bound receptors of target cells, but other functions are known. We have previously utilized a candidate gene approach to identify BMP signaling components used in nociceptive neurons to modulate injury-induced allodynia in Drosophila (Follansbee et al, 2017). The present study investigates the necessity of additional regulators of the BMP pathway in the formation of UV injury-induced sensitization. The components of the BMP pathway are highly conserved and, because pain sensitization underlies chronic pain, these genes show potential to represent novel therapeutic targets in humans challenged by chronic pain.


Master's thesis

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences Award 1P20GM103643 to Ian Meng, and National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Award 1R15NS095195-01 to Geoffrey Ganter.

This work was the basis for the following article:
Brann, C. L., Moulton, J. K., & Ganter, G. (2019). [Express] Glypicans Dally and Dally-like control injury-induced allodynia in Drosophila. Molecular Pain.

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