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Nathaniel Himmel

Grad Student    

Nate obtained his B.S. in Biology from the University of Florida in 2013. Nate developed a passion for physiology, which he pursued during two years of post-baccalaureate research at Emory University in the lab of Mitsi A. Blount, PhD, studying the cellular physiology and biochemistry of epithelial transport. In the Blount lab, Nate led a study which identified a novel epithelial cell phenotype, as well as contributed to work identifying putative molecular targets and therapies for treating lithium-induced diabetes insipidus and polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

In August 2015, Nate started the PhD program in Neuroscience, and now performs research under the direction of Daniel N. Cox, PhD. Nate’s research in the Cox Lab concerns multidendritic (md) sensory neurons in the insect Drosophila melanogaster. In collaboration with the Galko Laboratory at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a research team including Nate discovered that larval Class III md (CIII) neurons mediate noxious cold nociception—the ability to detect and respond to noxious cold. Interestingly, previous work had established CIII neurons as gentle touch mechanosensors. Nate’s research, and that of his colleagues’, seeks to understand how this sensory system can transduce and differentiate between these two very different sensory modalities.

More broadly, Nate is interested the molecular, cellular, and network mechanisms underlying multimodal sensory transduction and processing, the evolution of these systems, and how defects in them can result in disease (e.g., neuropathic pain). He is also interested in how the focus of his research relates to—or can be understood in light of—topics of philosophical interest (including decision making and mental representation, among others).

Nate’s work has been nationally recognized by awards from the American Physiological Society (2014, 2015), and at GSU, where he is currently a Georganne and Kenneth Honeycutt Fellow (2017-present), and a Brains & Behavior Fellow (2017-present).


Himmel NJ, Wang Y, Rodriguez DA, Sun MA, and Blount MA. Chronic lithium treatment induces novel patterns of pendrin localization and expression. April 2018. American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology. (In Press).

Himmel NJ and Cox DN. Sensing the cold: TRP channels in thermal nociception. May 2017. Channels.

Himmel NJ*, Patel AA*, and Cox DN. Invertebrate Nociception. March 2017. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Neuroscience.

Turner HN, Armengol K, Patel AA, Himmel NJ, Sullivan L, Iyer SC, Battacharya S, Iyer EPR, Landry C, Galko MJ, and Cox DN. The TRP channels Pkd2, NompC, and Trpm mediate unique aversive behaviors to noxious cold in Drosophila. December 2016. Current Biology. 10.1016/j.cub.2016.09.038

Sim JH, Himmel NJ, Redd SK, Pulous FE, Rogers RT, Black LN, Hong SM, von Bergen TN, and Blount MA. Absence of PKC-alpha attenuates lithium-induced nephrogenic diabetes insipidus. July 2014. PLOS One.