Molecular, cellular and network maps of the pain connectome

We are looking for people interested in the following NeuroNex Proposal:

Molecular, cellular and network maps of the pain connectome

Project Summary : Our central question asks how the presence of pain alters the molecular, cellular and network maps of the brain and whether this is altered over the timecourse of development from the neonate to old age. Our proposal will capitalize on advances in small animal MRI; in vivo, multiunit electrophysiology; and cell type specific imaging and RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq). A computational team will integrate datasets to understand how network changes, observed at multiple levels and at different scales of time and spatial resolution, are mediated by alterations in the molecular architecture of specific ensembles of neurons in discrete brain regions. Collectively, the project will give unprecedented insight into how persistent pain alters the brain macro and micro-scale connectomes. Our results will have an immediate impact on understanding how such a common pathology, experienced by nearly all vertebrates, impinges on normal behaviour.

Who we are:

Professor Theodore Price (UT Dallas): research focus is on how persistent pain influences the peripheral (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS). A recent focus of his lab’s work is on advanced RNA-seq methods, in particular cell-type specific RNA-seq using the translating ribosome affinity purification (TRAP) method. This allows for the assessment of cell-specific, active transcriptomes (the
RNAs sequenced are ribosome bound) in discrete cell populations in the PNS or CNS. Another focus of his lab is generation of web-based resources that are widely accessible to investigators without direct expertise in RNA-seq.

Pradipta Ray, Ph D is a computer scientist at UT Dallas with 15 years of experience in developing machine learning algorithms for computational biology, especially integrative analysis of genomic and transcriptomic datasets with data like electrophysiology. He has made key contributions to understanding cis-regulatory evolution, epigenetic regulation, and molecular plasticity in PNS.

Prof Chapman (Nottingham UK) leads a long-established research group focused on the mechanisms of pain and central sensitization using animal models and in vivo approaches. She is the Deputy Director of the Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre which has received core funding since 2010, and has
previously held MRC and BBSRC grant funding as well as European FPS funding. Experimental approaches include pain behavior, spinal and supraspinal electrophysiology, ex vivo analysis of tissues, and in collaboration small animal fMRI and lipidomic mass spectrometry methods for the study of pain mechanisms in a range of models.

Tracy D Farr, PhD. has more than 16 years of experience with small animal imaging. Before taking up position at the University of Nottingham, she was the Scientific Director of the Core Facility 7T Experimental MRIs at the Charité University Medicine Hospital in Berlin. Her research has used MRI to characterize several pathophysiological aspects of stroke. In recent years, she coordinated a multinational European Commission Consortium focused on vascular dementia. This seminal work has led to a keen interest in structural and functional connectivity methods. She is an active member of the International Society for Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, including being on the Editorial Board for Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism.

Gareth Hathway (Nottingham, UK) investigations endogenous pain control systems using
electrophysiological, anatomical and quantitative genomic approaches. He is particularly focused on the changing impact of pain across the life-course. He first described a functional role for descending pain control systems in the early development of the spinal cord and higher pain processing centers in rodents and has mapped the importance of endogenous opioid and endocannabinoid systems this. His work has also shown how surgical injury in early life perturbs the maturation of these processes.

Dominik von Elverfeldt, PhD and his group are part of the department of Radiology Medical Physics at the University Hospital Freiburg, a leading research department well known for MRI and headed by Professor Hennig. The animal molecular imaging research (AMIR) within, led by Dr. von Elverfeldt, has over 10 years of expertise in rodent MRI focusing on oncology, cardiology and in particular neurology formerly lead by Dr. Harsan. In this time AMIR was amongst the first groups worldwide to translate techniques as DTI and fiber tracking and resting state
fMRI towards preclinical application. They have been continuously developed and applied in various studies. Further development of image post processing was supported by Dr. Marco Reisert - group leader of the data processing group within the department. His group developed the widely used global nervous fiber tracking algorithm for DTI/HARDI data and is currently developing the medical image platform NORA [].

Victoria – I’m a moderator and moved this post to its own thread so that you can have a full discussion in your dedicated thread about your project (and not mix it with others). Best of luck on your proposal.