Kathryn Commons, PhD
|Department||Anesthesia, Perioperative and Pain Medicine|
|Hospital Title||Research Associate|
|Academic Title||Associate Professor|
300 Longwood Avenue
Boston MA 02115
Kathryn (Katie) Commons is a neuroscientist interested in understanding how serotonin neurotransmission functions in the brain. Serotonin is a broad modulator of behavior and is associated with several neuropathologies. These include developmentally related disorders (autism, SIDS, anorexia, addictive behavior) and those that are common in adults, such as anxiety and bipolar disorder. Serotonin is also implicated in chronic pain syndromes and in the response to analgesic agents. Therefore, greater insight into the function of the serotonin system at both the cellular and network level can have a profound impact on the understanding and treatment of many clinically important problems.
Serotonin is probably best known as a transmitter that influences mood. Dr. Commons is particularly interested in understanding how two classes of stimuli influence the serotonin system. These are pain, which has a profoundly negative effect on mood, and addictive drugs, which generally have a positive effect on mood. Addictive drugs are also commonly used as analgesics (opiates) or have analgesic properties. Dr. Commons is interested in the development of the serotonin system postnatally and through adolescence, which represents an age when chronic pain syndromes first appear and individuals are particularly vulnerable to developing addictive behavior.
General questions of interest to the Commons lab include:
- How does serotonin neurotransmission relate to behavioral output?
- How do positive and negative stimuli (stress, pain, inflammation, drugs) shift the state of the serotonin system?
- How does the anatomical organization of the serotonin system influence its function?
- What are the developmental changes in the serotonin system?
- Why are the several feedback mechanisms built into the serotonin system?
About Dr. Commons
Dr. Commons received her PhD at Cornell University Medical College. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Rockefeller University, and a research assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She is currently an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston.
- Soiza-Reilly, M and KG Commons. Quantitative analysis of glutamatergic innervation of the mouse dorsal raphe nucleus using array tomography. Journal of Comparative Neurology. 2011,
- Sperling, R and KG Commons. Reciprocal Patterns of Activation and 5-HT1A-Mediated Inhibition of Serotonin Cells Produced by Nicotine Administration and Withdrawal. European Journal of Neuroscience, 2011.
- Bang, SJ and KG Commons. Age-dependent effects of initial exposure to nicotine on serotonin neurons. Neuroscience, 2011, 179:1-8.
- Soiza-Reilly, M and Commons KG. Glutamatergic Drive of the Dorsal Raphe Nucleus.[Invited Review]. Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, 2011.
For a list of Kathryn Commons' publications on PubMed, click here.