Dr. Helms

Curriculum Vitae

My Nga Helms, Ph.D
Molecular, Cellular, and Systems Physiology

My general research interest is to better understand what controls sodium channel activity in epithelial cells found in both the kidney and in the lungs. I primarily use single-channel patch clamp techniques and advanced molecular biological assays to study the signal transduction cascades that regulate ENaC function.

When sodium ions are re-absorbed by the kidneys, it generates an osmotic gradient, which favors the transport of water back into the circulatory system to increase blood volume. Therefore, understanding how epithelial sodium channels are regulated in the kidneys is centrally important in understanding hypertensive disorders.

Active Na+ reabsorption in lung alveolar epithelial cells creates an environment which favors fluid clearance from the air space. In general, regulation of epithelial sodium channels in the lungs is important at the time of birth in order to remove fluid and for proper exchange of oxygen, as well as under pathological conditions in the mature lung, such as in pulmonary edema.

Pictured with Douglas C. Eaton,
Research Advisor, Distinguished
Professor, and President of the
American Physiological Society (2006)