Joseph Cotten, M.D., Ph.D.


Physician Investigator (Cl)
Anes. Research - Monthly, Mass General Research Institute
Associate Professor of Anaesthesia
Harvard Medical School
Associate Anesthetist
Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
M.D.; Ph.D. University of Iowa College of Medicine 1999
adrenal cortex; adrenal cortex diseases; anesthetic mechanisms and pharmacology; anesthetics inhalation; cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator; doxapram; etomidate; hypnotics and sedatives; large-conductance calcium-activated potassium channels; potassium channel blockers; potassium channels tandem pore domain; regulation of breathing; respiratory physiology; respiratory system agents; triazines My research focus is TASK tandem pore potassium channels. I am interested in the role of TASK channels in volatile anesthetic mechanisms and regulation of breathing and blood pressure by the carotid bodies.

TASK potassium channel function is activated by volatile anesthetics and may contribute to volatile anesthetic-induced loss of consciousness and immobility. I have optimized an Ussing chamber electrophysiology rig for study of TASK function and, combined with site-directed mutagenesis and other molecular biology techniques, am studying the details of their regulation by volatiles.

The carotid bodies are essential for the protective breathing and hemodynamic response to hypoxia. Carotid body function is, unfortunately, inhibited by most anesthetic drugs and likely contributes to their very low therapeutic index. TASK channels are expressed in the carotid body and may have a role in carotid body chemosensing (oxygen and acidic pH sensing).

I am undertaking studies to determine the role of TASK channels in carotid body inhibition by volatile anesthetics and am developing pharmacologic strategies to reverse this inhibition.