Australian Research Council Future Fellow, The University of Queensland

Pain is a major medical and socio-economic issue affecting one in five Australians. Our research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms behind pain. The current focus of the lab is to use toxins from plants and venomous animals to understand the molecular pharmacology of pain. These toxins are highly selective for ion channels and receptors found in the sensory neurons that detect pain and can potentially be developed into novel analgesics. Our research also investigates the mechanisms contributing to chemotherapy-induced pain, cancer-associated pain, inflammatory and neuropathic pain, and the painful marine toxin disease known as ciguatera. To investigate the neuropharmacology of pain we use a range of techniques including: in vivo pain pathway characterisation, high-content imaging of cultured sensory neurons, high-throughput screening using calcium and membrane potential assays, and traditional pharmacological assays. While all pain has similar symptoms, it is becoming clear that the underlying mechanisms behind pain can vary. Our research has already challenged traditional understanding of pain pathways and sensory neuronal physiology. We work in collaboration with other leading Australian and international researchers to identify novel therapeutic pain pathways and targets. By uncovering these new pain pathways, as well as identifying novel targets on peripheral sensory neurons, we aim to develop more effective pain therapies that treat the underlying cause of the pain, not just the symptoms.

Experience

  • –present
    Australian Research Council Future Fellow, The University of Queensland