A headshot photo of Richard D. Dey.

Richard D. Dey, PhD

Professor & Emeritus Past Chair of Neurobiology and Anatomy (Ret.)

Contact Information

PO Box 9128
WVU Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Laboratory Medicine
64 Medical Center Drive
Morgantown, WV 26506


  • Department of Pathology, Anatomy, and Laboratory Medicine
  • Department of Neuroscience
  • Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute

Graduate Training

  • Ph.D., Anatomy, Michigan State University


  • NIH Individual Postdoctoral Fellow, Departments of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Texas

Research Interests

The research in my lab focuses on neuroanatomical organization and embryological development of airway innervation, examining interconnections between airway neurons and airway structures (smooth muscle, blood vessels, glands, epithelium), and on determining neuronal responses to inhaled irritants. Different types of nerves including sensory, sympathetic, parasympathetic, and nonadrenergic/noncholinergic supply the trachea and bronchi. Released neurotransmitters mediate bronchial and vascular smooth muscle tone, mucous secretion, coughing, and breathing patterns in normal conditions and produce defensive responses after inhalation of irritant substances. Airway nerves may also contribute to lung diseases like asthma, chronic cough, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although there is considerable information regarding the actions of neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine, norepinephrine, vasoactive intestinal peptide, substance P and nitric oxide, the mechanisms through which airway nerves contribute to asthma and other airway diseases is not clear.  Regulatory molecules like neurotrophins may be critical in altering neurotransmitter expression and airway innervation leading to asthma and airway inflammation.  Combinations of immunocytochemical, molecular biological, neurophysiological and pharmacological approaches are used to investigate pulmonary neural responses to inhaled irritants such as ozone, a photochemical environmental pollutant, and toluene diisocyanate, a catalyst associated with occupational asthma used in manufacturing polymers. 










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