Neurobiology of pain & inflammation
Pain and itch are unpleasant sensory experiences. Pain plays a key biological role to warn us of impending tissue damage. In contrast, chronic pain and chronic itch are linked to many diseases, are maladaptive and have a negative impact on our physical and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, treatments for these conditions are often ineffective or have severe side effects. Our program engages research groups interested in deciphering the mechanisms of pain, itch and inflammation. We address questions at multiple levels, from the function of receptors for irritants, touch and temperature, to dissection of neuronal circuits for pain and itch, to human psychophysical studies of ocular pain and discomfort. Our ultimate goals are to identify mechanisms involved in pain and itch chronification, including the role of non-neuronal cells, develop new tools for the functional interrogation of pain circuits and discover and characterize new drugs for the treatment of chronic pain and itch.