Che Lab

Our lab is interested in identifying the molecular determinants of opioid-mediated pain sensation. The problem with current opioids is that they kill pain – and people. The primary target of opioids is a class of membrane proteins called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), particularly opioid receptors. Opioids such as morphine or fentanyl activate the opioid receptors, followed by different signaling pathways that mediate beneficial (e.g., analgesia) or adverse (e.g., addiction) effects. Research in the Che lab is aimed at comprehensively dissecting the molecular mechanisms underlying opioid receptor signaling and identifying novel signal transducers involved in the ligand-specific signaling.

Current research projects:

1. Structure and function of pain-related GPCRs including opioid and non-opioid receptors.

2. Identifying novel signal transducers that are responsible for ligand-specific signaling or behavioral responses.


The work will integrate structural (e.g., X-ray, Cryo-EM) and pharmacological approaches, and leverage these data to generate subtype-specific novel chemicals as in vivo precision pharmacology probes to understand opioid receptor signaling spatiotemporally. These will be useful probes to interrogate signaling pathways and provide a platform for the discovery of new chemical and biological matter for the development of safer, non-addictive pain medications.


Learn more about the Che Lab

Contact Information:

Tao Che, PhD
Assistant Professor
Center for Clinical Pharmacology
Department of Anesthesiology
Washington University School of Medicine

Mailing address:
2 Pharmacy Place
Saint Louis, MO 63110

Shipping address:
4573 Children’s Place
Saint Louis, MO 63110