The Cavalli lab is striving tounravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms that orchestrate peripheral nerve repair and use that information to improve healing in central nervous system damage and in severe peripheral nerve injuries.

To uncover how to repair nerves, we study a unique cell type that spans both the peripheral and central nervous systems: sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia. Sensory neurons have a single axon that bifurcates within the ganglion; one axon proceeds centrally into the spinal cord and the other proceeds along peripheral nerves. Despite being two parts of the same cell, the peripheral and central axonal branches do not respond identically after injury. The peripheral parts regrow and recover much faster and more completely than the central ones do. Our hope is that by identifying the factors responsible for this discrepancy we will reveal potential new therapies.

While we continue our studies on the intrinsic neuronal mechanism driving these divergent responses to injury, we also focus on the glial cells that wrap the cell soma, known as satellite glial cells. We strive to understand how satellite glial cells contribute to sensory function and dysfunction in health and disease, in both mice and human.

If you are interested in our science and would be like to learn about joining our team, please contact Dr. Valeria Cavalli:



To understand why regeneration occurs in the peripheral but not the central nervous system, our lab studies a unique cell type that spans both systems: sensory neurons of the dorsal root ganglia. 


Check out our latest paper in PNAS on the role of self-renewing macrophages in nerve regeneration.

Our lab

Cavalli Lab 2022
Cavalli Lab at the City Museum

The Cavalli Lab is led by Dr. Valeria Cavalli, the Robert E. and Louise F. Dunn Professor of Biomedical Research and Professor of Neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine.

We are a group of passionate scientists dedicated to understanding the basic mechanisms of neural injury and repair. Although we are serious about science, we are creative and love to pursue our interests outside the lab. Get to know us!

If you are interested in joining the lab, see our opportunities or contact Dr. Cavalli:

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