Victoria Abraira

Assistant Professor, Cell Biology and Neuroscience

B.S., University of Southern California

Ph.D., Harvard University

The Abraira lab proposes a basic blueprint for how spinal cord circuits instantiate top-down emotional context into the modulation of somatosensory input before it even reaches the brain. This work impacts our fundamental understanding of the emotional and attentional aspects of somatosensation and contributes to the emerging picture of the sophistication of contextual processing in the spinal cord and peripheral sensory organs. This work supports the idea of spinal cord and associated peripheral circuits as therapeutic targets for treating conditions affecting somatosensory dysfunctions, like acute and chronic pain. While this specific research project focuses on one neuromodulatory signal, oxytocin, the same blueprint is currently being applied to other modulatory networks implicated in pain modulation, including serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and endocannabinoids.