Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
Research and teaching
- Spinal Cord / Nerve Injury & Pain
How does our body tell us something is painful? Why do certain people go on to develop chronic pain whereas others, with apparently similar disorders or injuries, do not? And why is pain so difficult to treat? To begin to unravel the great paradox of pain, our research focuses on discovering the fundamental molecules and processes involved in chronic pain and enhancing the utility of opioid drugs in treating pain conditions. A strong focus of our research is the role of an understudied class of cells known as microglia, which are immune cells in the central nervous system, and the complex interplay between microglia and neurons in chronic pain and opioid analgesia. We utilize behavioural, biochemical, molecular, and single cell imaging approaches in whole animal and cell culture systems. This multipronged strategy allows us to dissect the fundamental causes of chronic pain. Understanding the key molecules and processes that underlie chronic pain is a major step towards improving current therapies and identifying novel targets for creating entirely new, more effective therapeutic strategies for treating pain. The discoveries arising from our work has direct and important benefits for the clinical management of pain conditions in both humans and animals.