The primary goal of the research
in Dr. Oaks' Laboratory is to understand how the rat host and
parasite communicate. As
we better understand this two way communication, we will also
better understand how the parasite survives and how the underlying
mechanism of intestinal physiology function in response to
Research in the Oaks' Laboratory involves a range
of theoretical and experimental approaches investigating gastrointestinal responses
to enteric parasite infection. The
parasite-host model used exclusively is the tapeworm, Hymenolepis
diminuta, in the rat. Currently
those in the laboratory use a range of experimental techniques and technologies:
allows measurement of smooth muscle contractile activity
and their electrical contractile patterns associated with
the digestive and interdigestive states of the intestine.
bath studies permit the in vitro examination of intestinal
permeability or intestinal responses to tapeworm signal molecules
or intestinal hormones and neurotransmitters.
labeling techniques are used to study intestinal cell growth,
differentiation and apoptosis in response to the tapeworm.
sampling of the intestine coupled to high pressure liquid
chromatography of these samples allow us to analyze the secretion
of both intestinal and parasite substances which serve as
procedures are allowing us to classify individual tapeworm
member of the laboratory has his or her own research project. These
are independent, but interpenetrate other projects, providing
the data necessary to reach our primary goal: understanding
how parasites regulate host physiology.
The laboratory is located in the School of Veterinary
Medicine on the University of Wisconsin's Madison Campus. Much
of Dr. Oaks' research is done in collaboration with Dr. Paul Bass, a faculty
member of the School of Pharmacy. There are currently seven members
of the laboratory plus collaborations with scientists outside of this Campus:
Dr. Gordon Telford, The Medical
College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and Dr. Wilma
Starke, Universidade Estadual Paulista-Ilha Solteira Campus, Brazil.