Cheryl Stucky

Marvin Wagner Endowed Chair, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy, Medical College of Wisconsin

Cheryl Stucky, Ph.D., received her B.A in Biology in 1987 from Bethel College and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 1995 from University of Minnesota. She was a Postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at the University of Würzburg in Würzburg, Germany from 1995-1997 and at Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany from 1997–1999. Dr. Stucky is currently a member of Faculty of 1000, Society for Neuroscience, International Associate for the Study of Pain, and the American Pain Society.

The Stucky Lab has worked at the forefront of neurobiology, studying the molecules responsible for touch and pain. The Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) ion channels are a class of molecular sensors for temperature, chemicals and touch stimuli. These ion channels sit in the membrane of sensory neurons and are essential for the initial transduction of sensory stimuli into generator potentials and, subsequently, action potential signals that are sent to the spinal cord. Some of the more well-known TRP channels that are found in mammals, including humans, are from the TRPV, TRPM and TRPA1 families. The TRPV1 (Vanilloid) receptor is the receptor for capsaicin, the hot ingredient in chili peppers, and is also a key receptor for the hypersensitivity to heat stimuli that occurs after tissue inflammation such as a sunburn or skin infection.

Stucky is also Director of the Pain Division of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Before pursuing higher education, she grew up on a wheat farm in central Kansas. Stucky conducted postdoctoral research first at the University of Würzburg in Würzburg, Germany, and next at the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany. Her lab studies the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms of sensation, particularly touch and pain. She is interested in how our skin cells communicate with sensory neurons to convey touch and cold.

Stucky’s lab has a particular interest in mechanisms that underlie pain in sickle cell disease as this is a population of patients that suffers from severe pain at home and often without adequate access to health care.