Mark HOON, PhD

Keynote lecturer at #RAJKA2024, Doha

Research Topics of Interest 

Neural and neuroptide pathways for itch.

Searching for molecular determinants of itch, a specific neuropeptide neurotransmitter signaling pathway was uncovered which is both necessary and sufficient for pruritus. The sensory neuron neuropeptide, Nppb, defines a class of cells which, through a specific spinal-cord circuit, evokes itch-behavior. Recently, a role of Nppb-neurons in chronic itch was revealed.


Dr. Mark Hoon earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the University of Leeds in the UK where he studied the molecular components of invertebrate vision. After completing a NATO postdoctoral fellowship in Freiburg, Germany, Dr. Hoon joined Nicholas Ryba’s lab at the National Institutes of Health, NIDCR, to investigate the molecular basis of taste. Over a period of 15 years, in collaboration with the Zuker laboratory at Columbia University, they discovered the receptors and cells required for sweet, bitter, and sour taste. In 2007, Dr. Hoon started his own lab working on deciphering signaling pathways involved in mammalian somatosensation. The lab dissected the cellular basis for thermosensation and examined pain signaling pathways. In addition, the Hoon lab uncovered a key neural pathway for itch by studying neuropeptide signaling. Dr. Hoon’s group continues to study peripheral mechanisms of pruritus using molecular genetic techniques including studying mechanism of chronic itch.

Honors and awards

Mark Hoon is the author of more than fifty peer-reviewed articles which include publications in Science, Nature, Cell, Neuron, Nature Neuroscience, and Science Translational Medicine. His work has led to several patents including ones for taste receptors and ones for the potential treatment of pruritus.

Methods of Treating or Preventing Pruritis (Itch); US Patent 10583173Compositions and methods for the inhibition of pruritus; US Patent 11324725B2