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Kathryn Medler

Professor, Neurobiology
Professional photo of Dr. Kathryn Medler.
School of Animal Sciences
2200 Litton-Reaves Hall
175 West Campus Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

My lab studies the physiology of signal transduction pathways and the regulation of these pathways in neuronal systems. We focus on peripheral sensory systems, primarily the taste system. Chemical sensory systems, which are comprised of olfaction and taste, play important roles in feeding, territorial recognition and social interactions. The taste sensory system is used to determine whether potential food items will be ingested or rejected while the olfactory system is used in a multitude of behaviors such as kin recognition and mate selection. The taste system is extremely  heterogeneous and is made up of distinct cell types that depend on multiple signaling pathways to detect stimuli. Some stimuli interact with receptors that initiate second messenger cascades, while others interact directly with ion channels to cause a cellular response. As characterization of these cellular  mechanisms continues, we can begin understanding how the brain gathers information about its surroundings. The long-term goal of the lab is to begin understanding how signaling mechanisms are regulated within taste cells and how this regulation impacts the generation of the stimulus signal to the brain. We use molecular and  physiological techniques, including live cell imaging to investigate how signaling mechanisms in taste cells function.

Current Projects:

  • National Science Foundation, IOS/BIO, Neural Systems “Characterizing the role of TRPM4 in taste transduction” March 2021-February 2024. Role: PI

  • National Institutes of Health, NIDCD, “Salivary protein influence on taste and feeding” January 2019-December 2023. Role: Co-I.
  • New York State/United University Professions Joint Labor-Management Committees, Dr. Nuala McGann Drescher Leave Program, Spring 2010
  • Julian Park Publication Fund Award, College of Arts and Sciences, University at Buffalo, 2008
  • Presentation Award for Poster, Rocky Mountain Regional Neuroscience Group, 2004
  • Board of Regents Fellowship, Louisiana State University, 1994-1998
  • Summer Student Fellowship-CRES, 1991, 1990
  • Dean's List, Texas A&M University, 1989
  • Edmonds Scholarship, 1986-1989
  • McFadden Scholarship, 1986-1989
  • UDC-Brewster Scholarship, 1986-1989
  • College Women's Scholarship, 1986
  • Phi Eta Sigma Membership, Texas A&M University, 1987
  • PhD, 1998, Louisiana State University, Department of Biological Sciences. “Characterization of Seven Transmembrane Domain Receptor Gene Expression in the Olfactory Receptor Neurons” Advisor: Dr. Richard Bruch
  • MS, 1992, San Diego State University, Department of Biology, Physiology conc. “Sex Determination in Alligators: Steroids in the Plasma and Urogenital Tissue during Gonadal Development” Advisor: Dr. Valentine Lance
  • BS, 1989, Texas A&M University, Department of Biology


Book Chapters

Dutta Banik, D., and Medler, K.F. (2023) Nutrient sensing by lingual G-protein coupled taste receptors. Invited chapter in “Nutrient Sensing in Eukaryotes” (Methods in Molecular Biology)” Editors: Fiona Russell and Grahame Hardie. In review

Dutta Banik, D., and Medler, K.F. (2021) Taste Receptor Signaling. Invited chapter in “The Pharmacology of Taste (Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology)” doi: 10.1007/164_2021_442. Editors: Kyle Palmer and Guy Servant.

Medler, K.F. (2015) Taste cells and calcium signaling. Invited chapter in “Calcium: Chemistry, Analysis, Function, and Effects” for Food and Nutritional Components in Focus. Editor: Professor Victor R Preedy. Published by Royal Society of Chemistry

Medler, K.F. (2011) Multiple roles for TRPs in the taste system: Not your typical TRPs. Invited chapter in “The Transient receptor potential channels” for the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 704:831-46. Editor: Dr. Md. Shahidul Islam. Published by Springer, Inc.

Medler, K., and Kinnamon, S.C. (2004) Transduction channels in Taste Cells. Invited chapter in “Transduction Channels in Sensory Cells” Eds. Frings and Bradley. Published by Wiley-VCH. pp. 153-177.

Professional Affiliations

  • Associate Editor of Cellular Neurophysiology (specialty section of Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience), 2022-present
  • Review Editor of Cellular Neurophysiology (specialty section of Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience), 2021-2022
  • Special Topics Editor, Nutrients Journal, 2020-present
  • Independent Consultant, American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Research Competitiveness Program (RCP), 2017
  • Editorial Advisory Board for Biochemical Journal, 2014-present
  • American Physiological Society, 2007-2012
  • Society for Neuroscience, 2000-2016
  • Rocky Mountain Regional Neuroscience Group, 2000-2004
  • Rocky Mountain Taste and Smell Center, 1999-2004
  • Sigma Xi, 1998-2008
  • Association for Chemoreception Sciences, 1996-present