Ke Dong received her Ph.D. in Entomology from Cornell University in 1993. After a short stay at the University of Kentucky, first as a postdoctoral associate and then a research assistant professor, she relocated to Michigan State University (MSU) in 1995. Currently, she is a full professor in the Department of Entomology and a faculty member in the Genetics and Neuroscience programs at MSU.
Ke Dong’s research interest in ion channels and insecticide toxicology can be traced back to her graduate school years in Dr. Jeff Scott’s laboratory at Cornell University. There she took toxicological, pharmacological and molecular approaches to understand the mechanism of pyrethroid (insecticide) resistance in the German cockroach. Her work demonstrated that pyrethroid resistance in the German cockroach is linked to the sodium channel locus, suggesting that mutations in the sodium channel are responsible for pyrethroid resistance.
What is the nature of these mutations? Do the mutations affect pyrethroid binding to the sodium channel? How many sodium channel genes are in insects? Are insect sodium channels pharmacologically distinct from mammalian sodium channels? These are some of the questions that guided Dong’s research at MSU for almost two decades.
Using an integrated approach of molecular genetics and electrophysiology, her research has contributed to the current understanding of the molecular mechanisms of action and resistance of sodium channel-targeting insecticides, such as pyrethroids, indoxacarb and metaflumizone.
While the kdr-sodium channel research is still one main focus, the Dong laboratory has initiated a new project to explore the function of a sodium channel-like gene in insects, particularly DSC1 (Drosophila sodium channel 1) in D. melanogaster. This is an exciting and challenging new area for our lab.
Ke Dong serves on the editorial boards of Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology and Insect.