image link for right hand menu

About Us

Welcome to Sheffield Pain Network

Pain is a complex multidimensional experience, affecting patients across all clinical disciplines; however, the pathogenesis of pain is still poorly understood and this limits treatment options.

To improve the understanding and treatment of pain, an extensive multidisciplinary approach involving all stakeholders is required; including basic scientists, clinicians, patients and industrial partners with wide-ranging fields of expertise.

The Sheffield Pain Network is a multidisciplinary research community of individuals and groups who have established international reputations in pain research. Our members consist of Sheffield based researchers spanning a very broad range of disciplines from basic through to clinical research, as well as members from various patient and carer support groups. The main cohort of our members are from The University of Sheffield with additional members from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, medical practices and local charities.

The aim of the Sheffield Pain Network is to build on our existing strengths in the field of pain to develop an internationally excellent, multidisciplinary research centre in Sheffield that will enhance the understanding of chronic pain and improve its treatment.

composite small

“Bringing together basic scientists, clinicians, patients and industrial partners to improve the understanding and treatment of chronic pain.”

Mission Statement

Members

Network Members

The Sheffield Pain Network brings together members from The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, medical practices and local charities.

Researcher Title / Role
Professor Sam Ahmedzai Professor of Palliative Medicine
Head of Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield
Dr David Andrew Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield
Mr Simon Atkins  Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Oral Surgeon
School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield
Dr Emma Bird Senior Post Doctoral Researcher
School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield
Professor Fiona Boissonade Professor of Neuroscience, Sheffield Pain Network Lead,
School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield
Dr Mark Collins Lecturer in Biological Mass Spectrometry
Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield
Professor Bazbek Daveltov Chair in Biomedical Science
Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield
Professor David Grundy Professor of Biomedical Science
Department of Biomedical Science, The University of Sheffield
Mr Sameer Gupta Consultant in Pain Management
Northern General Hospital
Dr Janet Harris Senior Lecturer in Public Health (Management & Leadership/Public Health)
School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield
Professor Alison Loescher Professor of Oral Surgery
School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield
Dr Mohammed Nassar Lecturer
Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield
Fiona Sampson NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow
School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield
Dr Dinesh Selvarajah Senior Lecturer in Diabetes and Honorary Consultant Diabetologist
University of Sheffield and Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Dr Elizabeth Seward Senior Lecturer
Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield
Professor Solomon Tesfaye Honorary Professor of Diabetic Medicine and Consultant Physician/Endocrinologist
University of Sheffield and Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Professor Iain Wilkinson Professor of Magnetic Resonance Physics, NIHR-Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre: Advanced Medical Imaging Lead
Consultant Clinical Scientist (MR Physics), Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

May 2016 Meeting

Sheffield Pain Network Annual Meeting - 5th May 2016

An exciting one-day meeting and networking event welcomed academics, clinicians and industry, to find out what is happening in the field of pain research, treatment and management in and around Sheffield.

Meeting Aims

SPNimage4
  • Learn about what is happening in the field of pain research, treatment and management in and around Sheffield.
  • Meet and hear from research partners from other research institutes, NHS trusts and industry.
  • Network with colleagues from academia, NHS trusts and industry.
  • Find about future plans for the Sheffield Pain Network


Invited Speakers

Professor Victoria Chapman

Deputy Director, Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre, University of Nottingham

Title: Integration of preclinical and clinical studies to maximise mechanistic understanding of OA pain

Professor Chapman is the Deputy Director of the Arthritis Research UK Centre of Excellence in Arthritis Pain (established in 2010), with responsibility for the preclinical studies and their alignment to major clinical questions within the field. She has published over 90 original articles (h-index 36), successfully supervised over 25 PhD students and held grants from the MRC, industry and Wellcome Trust. Current research is focused on the peripheral and central mechanisms of osteoarthritis pain, using established pre-clinical models. Experimental approaches include pain behaviour, electrophysiology and ex vivo analysis of tissues. Professor Chapman's research group has benefited from the strong collaborative nature of researchers at the University of Nottingham, which enabled her to apply fMRI methodology and the development and application of lipidomic mass spectrometry methods to the study of pain mechanisms in a broad range of clinically relevant models.

Professor Chapman is an active member of the School of Life Sciences, and a member of the School Executive Committee. In these roles she contributes to promotions review panels, and fellowship and new appointment panels. She was very proud to be a member of the School team that successfully bid for an Athena SWAN Silver award.

Recently appointed as the Global Research Theme Leader for Health and Wellbeing at University of Nottingham, Professor Chapman, alongside the PVC for Research and the University Research Support team, contributes to the development of the University research strategy, liaise and meets with Funders and contributes to the development of University led bids for funding specific to the Health and Wellbeing agenda.


Professor Matthew Flinders

Founding Director, The Crick Centre, University of Sheffield

Title: The Crick Centre and the Politics of Pain

Professor Flinders studied Modern European Studies at Loughborough University before moving to the University of Sheffield to complete his doctorate in public policy and governance. He was appointed to a permanent Lectureship in 2000 (Senior Lecturer 2003, Reader 2005, Professor 2009). He was Sub-Dean for Graduate Affairs during 2004-2005 and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences 2005-2006. He was a Governor on the Board of Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust between 2008-2011 and Deputy Head of the Department of Politics between 2008-2012.

Professor Flinders is also on the Executive Committee of the Political Studies Association. In addition to his academic work Professor Flinders is a writer and broadcaster and has made numerous contributions to national newspapers, including The Times and The Guardian, and in 2011 he wrote and presented a three-part series for BBC Radio 4 entitled ‘In Defence of Politics’. Professor Flinders is founding director of The Crick Centre, based in the University of Sheffield’s Department of Politics, the top-rated department in the UK for researching Politics. The aim of the Crick Centre is to study and promote the public understanding of politics (broadly defined) in a manner that cultivates debate and encourages engaged citizenship around the world. - See more at http://www.crickcentre.org


Emanuele Sher, M.D. PhD

Senior Research Advisor, Neuroscience Discovery, Lilly Research Centre

Title: The future of novel pain therapeutics – the Lilly perspective

Dr. Sher received his MD degree from the University of Milan, his PhD in Neuroscience from Oxford Brookes University and post-doctoral training in Germany and the USA. As a Researcher of the Italian National Research Council, he set up a laboratory highly recognised in the field of calcium channels physio-pathology. He then became contract Professor of Physiology at the University of Turin.

Dr. Sher joined Eli Lilly in 1997 as Team Leader of the electrophysiology group. The group enabled various techniques (patch-clamp, Ca2+ imaging, FLIPR, oocyte expression, brain slices) and supported over the years various neuroscience drug discovery efforts. This has been achieved by combining internal drug discovery efforts with several UK and international collaborations, with both industry and academia. Dr. Sher is presently leading the internal Ion Channel discovery platform, and is a member of the leadership group for Pain Research.


Lisa Broad, PhD

Research Advisor, Neuroscience Discovery, Lilly Research Centre

Dr Broad is a physiologist/pharmacologist with more than 3 years post-doctoral experience in UK and US laboratories and 15 years industrial experience. Her training is in the area of signal transduction, with particular expertise in the areas of calcium signaling and ion channel physiology.

Since joining Lilly, Dr Broad has led a number of ion channel and GPCR projects, and developed novel cellular assays for screening ion channel and GPCR ligands for the Neuroscience therapeutic area. She is currently group leader for the UK based Neurophsyiology team and is a member of the leadership group for Pain Research.

December 2014 Launch Meeting

Sheffield Pain Network Launch Meeting - 4th December 2014

Sheffield is currently in a very promising position with regard to pain research and treatment, with many of the building blocks for an internationally excellent, multidisciplinary research community already in place. However to realise our potential in pain research and become a leader in this area, a cohesive network needs to be developed. The purpose of the launch meeting was to establish where interests and expertise lie, and identify themes for collaborative projects and routes forward for establishing this network.

Meeting Topics

SPNimage3

  • Pain from bladder and bowel
  • Community support for chronic pain
  • Human tissues as translational tools
  • MR neuroimaging in diabetic neuropathy
  • Sodium channel trafficking in pain
  • Botulinum proteins for pain alleviation
  • Cancer-induced bone pain
  • Orofacial pain
  • Pain management in Emergency Departments

Invited Speakers

David Andrew

Senior Lecturer /Honorary Consultant in Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, School of Clinical Dentistry, The University of Sheffield University

Title: Cancer-induced bone pain

David Andrew is a Senior Clinical Lecturer at Sheffield University Dental School as well as a Consultant Radiologist at Chesterfield Royal Hospital and Sheffield Dental Hospital.

His research focuses on in vivo mechanisms of chronic pain, using classical neurophysiological approaches as well as functional neuroanatomy. He is particularly interested in sensory encoding by primary afferent fibres and 2nd order spinal projection neurons. His current project is on the mechanisms of cancer-induced bone pain, funded by the MRC under the “Mechanisms of Disease” initiative with AstraZeneca.

Simon Atkins

Senior Clinical Lecturer/Honorary Consultant Oral Surgeon, School of Clinical Dentistry, The University of Sheffield University

Title: Trigeminal nerve injury - repair and inflammation - experimental outcomes

Dr Atkins is a Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Oral Surgeon. His clinical specialist areas include, management of lingual and inferior alveolar nerve injuries, facial deformity, implantology, tissue augmentation, and paediatric oral surgery.

Sheffield is a leading Internationally renowned specialist centre for trigeminal nerve repair and exploration, and Dr Atkins provides the main clinical expertise in the surgical management of these injuries, regularly receiving national referrals. His primary research interest relates to the mechanisms surrounding regeneration following peripheral nerve repair, and the development of agents to improve recovery. He is a member of the Integrated Bioscience research group in the School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield and has a specialist interest in neuroscience.

Fiona Boissonade

Professor of Neuroscience, School of Clinical Dentistry, The University of Sheffield University

Title: Human tissues as a translational tool in pain research

Fiona Boissonade is Professor of Neuroscience at the School of Clinical Dentistry and is leading the development of the Sheffield Pain Network. Following her BDS degree she gained her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Bristol, studying CNS mechanisms of trigeminal pain. She was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Canadian Medical Research Council to undertake research at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Canada. She returned to the UK in 1993 to take up a post as Lecturer in Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield School of Clinical Dentistry. She was awarded a Personal Chair in 2003.

She has a major research interest in the mechanisms of altered neuronal excitability that contribute to the development of chronic pain. Much of this research has been done at the academic–industrial interface. Collaborations with GSK, Pfizer and Eli Lilly have funded a wide range of translational studies, using pre-clinical models and human tissues to identify and validate a range of regulators of neuronal excitability as potential targets for the development of novel analgesics and anti-inflammatory mediators.

Other research projects are directed towards improvement of nerve regeneration. These include collaboration with the Department of Engineering Materials to develop bioengineered conduits to enhance nerve regeneration and reduce neuropathic pain. In other projects she collaborates with the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) investigating the role of chemokines in CNS disease, and has a number of pilot projects underway investigating neural interactions in the generation of cancer pain and tumour progression.

Bazbek Davletov

Chair in Biomedical Science, Biomedical Sciences, The University of Sheffield University

Title: Towards long-term pain alleviation using botulinum proteins

Bazbek Davletov is a molecular neurobiologist with a background in mechanisms of synaptic neurotransmission. His current efforts focus on targeted delivery of long-acting botulinum enzymes into specific neurons to achieve long-lasting synaptic block in a given pain pathway. His previous work elucidated protein and lipid pathways involved in synaptic neurotransmission (Dallas, 1991-94; Cambridge 1997-2012) and mechanisms of action of synaptic neurotoxins (Moscow, 1988-91; London, 1995-1997). His current efforts involve devising convenient protocols for attachment of botulinum enzymes to ligands which preferentially recognise pain pathways.

Bazbek Davletov's laboratory uses the following methods: culture of neuroblastoma cells, culture of dissociated dorsal root ganglion neurons, culture of ex-plant DRGs from mice, live fluorescent labelling of cells and immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, SDS-PAGE and Western immunoblotting, bacterial protein production, protein and peptide biochemistry, measurements of thermal and mechanosensitivity in rat pain models using Hargreaves and von Frey techniques.

David Grundy

Head of Biomedical Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, The University of Sheffield University

Title: Pain from the Bladder and Bowel

Professor David Grundy joined the Faculty of Science at the University of Sheffield in England in 1980 and is currently Head of the Department of Biomedical Science at the University. During 30 years in Sheffield he has played key roles in teaching dental, science and medical students as well as supervising more than 20 PhD students. His research is funded from grant councils, industry and charities and focuses on the study of "Neurogastroenterology", a term which encompasses the regulation of gastrointestinal function by neural mechanisms. His interest in this field was triggered as a PhD student with Joe Davison in Dundee aftercompleting a science degree in Physiology at Queen Elizabeth College, University of London. However, over the past 30 years the emphasis of his research has shifted from gut motor control towards the afferent mechanisms that are the basis of reflexes and gut sensations. In particular he employs neurobiological techniques to study the transduction of sensory signals generated from within the wall of the gastrointestinal tract and bladder. While the approach is largely basic science, a strong clinical element is maintained through collaborations aimed at understanding the basis of sensations such as nausea and discomfort that arise in both functional and organic GI disorders. He recently coordinated a EU Framework7 collaborative programme investigating the role of intestinal proteases in inflammatory bowel disease (IPODD) and is a member of a Marie Curie ITN dealing with training urology scientists (TRUST). The applied aspect also extends to collaborations with industry, looking at afferent transduction mechanisms as potential therapeutic targets. He spent a sabbatical in 2006working at GSK in Harlow and from 2000 - 2005 was a guest professor at the University of Tubingen. He is chairman of the management board of an international journal "Neurogastroenterology and Motility" and a member of the Executive Board and Senior Ethics Editor of the Journal of Physiology as well as serving on several other editorial boards.

Sameer Gupta

Consultant in Pain Management, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield.

Title: Pain clinic - what can we offer?

Dr Gupta is a Consultant Anaesthetist in the NHS with a specialist interest in Pain Management. Dr Gupta trained in anaesthesia in Delhi, India, Ireland and the United Kingdom, completing his FRCA in 2005 and becoming a Consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. He developed an interest in pain as a subspeciality interest and did a year's fellowship in Pain at the world renowned Pain centre at Walton Centre, Liverpool. He has 17 years experience in Anaesthesia.

Dr Gupta specialises in General Anaesthesia and most methods of local and regional nerve blocks including spinals and epidurals. He practices multimodal pain management and is well versed in physical and psychological techniques to help. Dr Gupta has also completed a Diploma in Acupuncture from the British Medical Acupuncture Society.

Janet Harris

Senior Lecturer in Public Health (Management & Leadership/Public Health), School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield

Title: Community-based services for self-management of chronic pain: The Sheffield story.

Janet Harris is a former commissioner of public health services, who specializes in evaluation of health service and health systems, with a particular interest in community based approaches to supporting health and well being. She is a co-conveyor of the Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group, which is developing guidance for including qualitative research in systematic reviews of effectiveness. She is also a member of Health Systems Global and the International Participatory Health Research Collaboration, which focus on pragmatic approaches to evaluating how and why health service work in different settings and contexts. Her pain research has focused on alternative approaches to supporting patients with low back pain, community support for chronic pain, evaluation of web based support for self management, and cognitive behavioural therapy for back pain.

Alison Loescher

Professor of Oral Surgery, School of Clinical Dentistry, The University of Sheffield University

Title: Orofacial Pain

Professor Alison Loescher (also known as Tilly) graduated in dentistry 1984. In 1987 she was awarded a three year Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship a year of which was spent in Edmonton, Canada. In 1989, Tilly completed a PhD entitled ‘Regeneration of periodontal mechanoreceptors after nerve injury’. Tilly then went on to study medicine in Sheffield, and was subsequently appointed to Oral Surgery as a lecturer at the University of Sheffield in 1995. In 2000 Tilly was appointed Honorary Consultant/Senior lecturer in Oral Surgery. Although Tilly trained as an Oral Surgeon, her main clinical interest is facial pain and in 2002 she established a facial pain service. This service has expanded and now attracts referrals from a wide geographic area. In 2008 Tilly was made a Professor and is currently Clinical Director of the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital.

Mohammed Nassar

Lecturer, Biomedical Sciences, The University of Sheffield University

Title: Contribution of sodium channel trafficking to hyperexcitability of sensory neurons

My research is focused on primary sensory neurons which are part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Sensory neurons convey sensory information from the both internal (e.g. viscera, muscles and bones) and external (skin) environments to the central nervous system (CNS). Sensory neurons convey both innoxious and noxious stimuli. The latter is perceived in the CNA as pain. My research interest lies in investigating the molecular changes in sensory neurons that are associated with pathological pain. This is important in order to identify potential targets for new, effective yet specific targets for analgesic drugs. My lab uses variety of methods based on molecular biology and cellular biology to investigate potential targets.  The Nav1.7 sodium channel has been shown by us and others to be crucial in pain signalling.Loss and gain of function mutations in humans lead to complete insensitivity to pain and painful disorders, respectively. Despite this, little is known about its trafficking in sensory neurons or the proteins that regulate it. These proteins, once identified, can serve as targets for novel analgesic drugs. I have identified several proteins that interact with Nav1.7 channel and my lab is investigating not only their role in Nav1.7 trafficking but also in the excitability of sensory neurons. My lab has also generated a new in vitro model of sensory neurons (named the MED cell lines). We immortalised sensory neuron progenitors and are able to differentiate them in vitro to a sensory neurons-like phenotype. These cell lines may provide a platform for both academic and pharmaceutical research to carry out screens aimed at target identification and validation.

Fiona Sampson

NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield

Title: Delivering analgesia on the shop floor: barriers to pain management in Emergency Departments

My research interests are in evaluating health care systems, patient perspectives of healthcare and the use of mixed methods in health services research. I am currently undertaking an NIHR doctoral research fellowship using qualitative research methods to look at how the management of pain in Emergency Departments can be improved. This will involve systematically reviewing and synthesizing evidence of effectiveness of interventions to improve pain management in EDs, and undertaking empirical research to understand the barriers and facilitators to pain management.

Dinesh Selvarajah

Honorary Consultant Diabetologist, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, The University of Sheffield.

Title: MR neuroimaging markers in painful diabetic neuropathy.

Research I have conducted thus far has been clinical studies applying modern MR neuroimaging techniques in Type 1 diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. Through my collaboration with the Academic Unit of Radiology at the Univeristy of Sheffield and FMRIB Unit at Oxford University, I have gained invaluable knowledge in MR imaging theory, protocol development and data analysis. My skills in the field of clinical neuropathy and neuroimaging establishes me as a researcher with a unique range of expertise within the field of diabetes research.

Solomon Tesfaye

Consultant Physician/Endocrinologist, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield.

Title: Peripheral biomarkers of painful diabetic neuropathy.

Solomon Tesfaye is a Consultant Physician/Endocrinologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Honorary Professor of Diabetic Medicine at the University of Sheffield, UK. He qualified as a doctor at the University of Bristol in 1984 and trained in diabetes and diabetic neuropathy under Professor JD Ward. His research projects include the epidemiology, risk factors, pathogenesis, central nervous system involvement and treatment of diabetic neuropathy and neuropathic pain. He has published a book, over 150 original articles, reviews and book chapters in the field of diabetic neuropathy including a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine. He has received research funding from Diabetes UK, the US National Institute of Health (NIH), Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes and the UK National Institute for Health Research.

Professor Tesfaye was awarded the Prestigious Camillo Golgi Prize of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in 2014 for major scientific contributions in Diabetic Neuropathy. Professor Tesfaye has had international leadership roles including chairmanship of the International Expert Group on Diabetic Neuropathy that published 7 consensus recommendation papers in 2010/11, and of NEURODIAB (2006-9) which is the largest diabetic neuropathy scientific group in the world. He is also the current Vice Chairman of the Science and Research Committee of Diabetes UK; a Board Member of the Global Quantitative Sensation Testing Society; a member of the Advisory Council of the Neuropathy Trust and Secretary of International Insulin Foundation. He is currently the Associate Editor of Experimental Diabetes Research, Frontiers in Endocrinology, European Endocrinology and Diabetes Management and was previous Associate Editor of Diabetologia. Professor Tesfaye has served as a member of the JDRF, NIDDK, UK MRC and UK NIHR scientific review panels and as a member of a Diabetes & Neuropathic pain Review Group for the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

PhD Opportunities

**4 PhD PROJECTS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE - COMPETITION FUNDED**

PROJECT 1: MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership PhD studentship - Application Deadline 22nd January 2018

The role of resolvins – a novel class of omega 3-derived lipid mediators – in chronic pain

Supervisors: Prof Fiona M Boissonade, Prof Nikita Gamper, Dr Dan Lambert

Project Description: An emerging line of investigation has suggested that a novel class of omega 3-derived, endogenous lipid mediators – resolvins – have a crucial role in the resolution of inflammation. Acute inflammatory responses are protective and usually culminate in the restoration of tissue homeostasis. However, if left uncontrolled, they fail to exert a protective function and become pathophysiological. In addition to its role in classic inflammatory diseases (eg arthritis), uncontrolled inflammation has been implicated in a growing range of age-related and other common chronic debilitating conditions including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, obesity and chronic pain. Evidence now indicates that resolution of inflammation is an active process, which involves specialised molecules such as resolvins. Recent work indicates that resolvins also have considerable potential to alleviate chronic pain. This condition shows increased prevalence with age, affecting patients across all clinical disciplines, however its pathogenesis is poorly understood. Pain represents a major area of unmet clinical need; 28 million people live with chronic pain in the UK and a recent Global Burden of Disease study highlights that burdens associated with chronic pain are increasing, and that chronic back pain is the greatest cause of years lived with disability.

Resolvins are derived from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and mediate their actions through specific G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163782712000215). Resolvin receptors have been identified in cells and tissues that are known to be significant in nociceptive processing and its modulation, including dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and spinal dorsal horn neurones, microglia and astrocytes. Recent work has demonstrated upregulation of resolvin receptors in preclinical pain models and that administration of resolvins can reduce nociceptive behavioural responses in these models. We have shown that resolvin receptors are expressed at sites of nerve injury (linked with neuropathic pain) in man, and that microglial activation (linked to pain) correlates with resolvin receptor upregulation in a preclinical model. Other groups have investigated potential routes by which resolvins regulate activity in pain-sensing neurones. For example, it has been shown that D-resolvins can inhibit pain-related transient receptor potential channels in DRG neurones via a GPCR-mediated mechanism (http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/50/18433.long). However, the molecular basis of these inhibitory effects is not understood.

This collaborative project will use a multidisciplinary and translational approach employing the unique resources and expertise across the supervisory team to further understand how the effects of resolvins are mediated in peripheral neurones. The specific aims are to:

1) Characterise and quantify resolvin receptor expression in human tissues from patients with neuropathic pain (neuroma tissue) and inflammatory pain (dental pulp), correlating receptor expression with clinical pain history and altered sensitivity to peripheral stimuli.

2) Investigate the signalling cascades through which resolvins modify activity in pain-sensing neurones.

3) Determine the ability of resolvins to antagonise the excitatory effects of inflammatory mediators in pain-sensing neurones, and reduce pain-related behavioural responses in preclinical models.

These will be achieved using immunohistochemical, molecular biological (including RNA-seq and computational interrogation of publicly available datasets), electrophysiological (patch and voltage clamp), bioimaging (including live confocal and TIRF microscopy) and in vivo methods.

Funding Notes: This studentship is part of the MRC Discovery Medicine North (DiMeN) partnership and is funded for 3.5 years. Including the following financial support:
Tax-free maintenance grant at the national UK Research Council rate
Full payment of tuition fees at the standard UK/EU rate
Research training support grant (RTSG)
Travel allowance for attendance at UK and international meetings
Opportunity to apply for Flexible Funds for further training and development

Academic requirements: Students must hold (or be about to obtain) a First or an Upper Second Class UK undergraduate degree or an equivalent degree from a recognised EU institution, in the biosciences or a related area. Qualifications (or a combination of qualifications and experience) which demonstrate equivalent ability and attainment will also be considered. For example, a less than sufficient first degree may be enhanced to meet the requirements by the acquisition of a distinction at Masters level).

Residence requirements: To be eligible for a full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. Students from the EU are eligible for a fees-only award and will be considered for the full studentship depending on excellence of their application. International students can only be considered in exceptional circumstances when they possess MRC 'scarce strategic skills' not available in UK/EU candidates.

Apply now: https://www.findaphd.com/search/ProjectDetails.aspx?PJID=93104


PROJECT 2: University of Sheffield Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health PhD Studentship - Application Deadline 24th January 2018

Development of novel bioengineered conduits for peripheral nerve repair

Supervisors: Prof Fiona M Boissonade, Prof John Haycock

Background: There are 300,000 peripheral nerve injuries per year in Europe (1/1,000 population) giving rise to substantial disability and, in some patients, the development of chronic pain. Repair with an autologous nerve graft is not ideal as it results in loss of function and sometimes pain from the donor site, and may be followed by a disappointing outcome. The bioengineering challenge is to create an effective conduit that will reliably promote functional outcomes that are better than those achieved by autologous nerve grafts. We have recently published a study that demonstrates the ability to manufacture a nerve guidance conduit by photolithography with micrometre resolution (microstereolithography), that is biocompatible and can support regeneration across a short gap injury over 21 days – equivalent to that achieved with an autologous nerve graft.

Hypothesis: We hypothesise that an optimally designed biodegradable microfibre nerve conduit populated with support cells will promote peripheral nerve regeneration as well as, or better than, an autologous nerve graft and would avoid graft donor site morbidity.

Aims: The overall aim of this project is to design, manufacture and evaluate a new class of biodegradable nerve conduits with the ability to promote peripheral nerve regeneration.

Objectives: The specific objectives are to establish:
1. The optimal design of the microfibre conduit.
2. Whether optimally designed conduits can perform better than autologous nerve grafts.
3. Whether our optimally designed conduits populated with anti-fibrotic agents or support cells perform better than empty conduits.

Experimental plan: We plan to use microstereolithography to construct customised porous biodegradable conduits with either a series of parallel internal microfibres or accurately aligned multi-lumen nerve guides. Comparisons will be made between nerve grafts, empty conduits and those with a range of different designs; including the addition of anti-fibrotic agents and/or cells known to facilitate nerve growth. These cells will be cultured using our established high efficiency techniques. Initially we will use genetically modified (thy-1-YFP-H) mice, which have fluorescent axons, to trace individual axons through the conduits, and determine the proportion of axons that regenerate and the length of the regenerating axons after nerve repair. We will then evaluate the most promising conduits in further detail, using a combination of methods of assessment including electrophysiological recordings of compound action potentials and functional assessment of outcome using walking track analysis.

Doctoral Academy Scholarships:  The Faculty Scholarships for Medicine, Dentistry & Health cover fees and stipend at Home/EU level. Overseas students may apply but will need to fund the fee differential between Home and Overseas rate from another source.

Chinese Scholarship Award:  For eligibility requirements please see the following link https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/scholarships/csc.  The Chinese Scholarship Award cover fees and stipend including any additional overseas level fees.

Apply now: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/scholarships/projects


PROJECT 3: University of Sheffield Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health PhD Studentship - Application Deadline 24th January 2018

The role of lymphotactin in chronic pain

Supervisors: Prof Fiona M Boissonade, Dr Emma Bird

Background:  Chronic pain, including that from the orofacial region, represents a major public health issue, impacting primarily on health and quality of life, but also on economic and employment issues. Despite improved knowledge of mechanisms underlying pain, there are still considerable gaps in our understanding of chronic pain – including neuropathic pain – occurring as a consequence of pathology or injury affecting the nervous system. Treatment for this type of pain is limited and often ineffective.  Chemokines are a large family of small, secreted proteins which exert their biological effects by binding to cell surface G-protein-coupled receptors, and have a well-established role regulating the migration of leukocytes and coordinating inflammatory responses. In addition to their role in immune modulation, an increasing number of studies have demonstrated an important role for chemokine signalling in the nervous system, regulating neuronal development, neuroinflammation and synaptic transmission. Some chemokines have also been shown to be critical in the development and maintenance of chronic pain, via their roles in altered excitability and nociceptive processing.  Lymphotactin (XCL1), a member of the least examined C class of chemokines, is produced by subsets of T cells and natural killer cells in response to infection and inflammation, and is chemotactic for T lymphocytes through binding to its receptor XCR1. Recent work in our lab has demonstrated a novel role for this little-studied chemokine XCL1 in the nervous system. We have identified XCR1 in the peripheral and central nervous systems, and demonstrated its upregulation in a model of nerve injury-induced pain. Furthermore we were able to show that XCL1 increased neuronal excitability and activated intracellular signalling molecules in regions known to be critically important in pain processing, providing the first evidence that the XCL1-XCR1 axis may play an important role in pain pathways and provide a target for novel analgesics.

Aims and Objectives:  The overall aim of this project is to further our understanding of the role of XCL1-XCR1 in neuropathic pain.  The specific objectives are to:
1. Investigate how antagonism of XCR1 modifies behaviour in a pre-clinical model of neuropathic pain.
2. Characterise and quantify XCR1 expression in injured human nerves and correlate these findings with clinical pain histories, visual analogue scale (VAS) scores, and quantitative sensory testing data related to symptoms of pain and other sensory disturbances.
3. Determine the expression of XCR1 in a range of inflammatory pain conditions.

The student will gain expertise in pain neurobiology, pre-clinical models, behavioural testing methods, immunohistochemistry, microscopy and image analysis.

Doctoral Academy Scholarships: The Faculty Scholarships for Medicine, Dentistry & Health cover fees and stipend at Home/EU level. Overseas students may apply but will need to fund the fee differential between Home and Overseas rate from another source.

Chinese Scholarship Award:  For eligibility requirements please see the following link https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/scholarships/csc
The Chinese Scholarship Award cover fees and stipend including any additional overseas level fees.

Apply now: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/scholarships/projects


PROJECT 4: University of Sheffield Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health PhD Studentship - Application Deadline 24th January 2018

The role of resolvins in the regulation of nociceptive processing

Supervisors: Prof Fiona M Boissonade, Dr Dan Lambert

Project Description: An emerging line of investigation has suggested that a novel class of omega 3-derived, endogenous lipid mediators – resolvins – have a crucial role in the resolution of inflammation. Acute inflammatory responses are protective and usually culminate in the restoration of tissue homeostasis. However, if left uncontrolled, they fail to exert a protective function and become pathophysiological. In addition to its role in classic inflammatory diseases (eg arthritis), uncontrolled inflammation has been implicated in a growing range of age-related and other common chronic debilitating conditions including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, obesity and chronic pain. Evidence now indicates that resolution of inflammation is an active process, which involves specialised molecules such as resolvins.

Recent work indicates that resolvins also have considerable potential to alleviate chronic pain. This condition affects patients across all clinical disciplines, however its pathogenesis is poorly understood. Pain represents a major area of unmet clinical need; 28 million people live with chronic pain in the UK and a recent Global Burden of Disease study highlights that burdens associated with this condition are increasing.

Resolvins are derived from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and mediate their actions through specific G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). Resolvin receptors have been identified in cells and tissues that are known to be significant in nociceptive processing and its modulation, including dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and spinal dorsal horn neurones, microglia and astrocytes.

Recent work has demonstrated upregulation of resolvin receptors in preclinical pain models. We have shown that resolvin receptors are expressed at sites of nerve injury (linked with neuropathic pain) in man, and that microglial activation (linked to pain) correlates with resolvin receptor upregulation in a preclinical model. Other groups have investigated potential routes by which resolvins regulate activity in pain-sensing neurones. For example, it has been shown that D-resolvins can inhibit pain-related transient receptor potential channels in DRG neurones via a GPCR-mediated mechanism. However, the molecular basis of these inhibitory effects is not understood.

This project will use in vitro techniques, preclinical models and human tissues to further understand how the effects of resolvins are mediated in peripheral neurones.

The specific aims are to:
1) Characterise and quantify resolvin receptor expression in human tissues from patients with neuropathic pain (neuroma tissue) and inflammatory pain (dental pulp), correlating receptor expression with clinical pain history and altered sensitivity to peripheral stimuli.
2) Investigate the mechanisms through which resolvins modify activity in pain-sensing neurones.
3) Determine their ability to reduce pain-related behavioural changes in preclinical models of neuropathic pain.

These will be achieved using immunohistochemistry, molecular biology (including RNA-seq and computational interrogation of publicly available datasets), in vitro imaging and behavioural studies.

Doctoral Academy Scholarships:  The Faculty Scholarships for Medicine, Dentistry & Health cover fees and stipend at Home/EU level. Overseas students may apply but will need to fund the fee differential between Home and Overseas rate from another source.

Chinese Scholarship Award:  For eligibility requirements please see the following link https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/scholarships/csc
The Chinese Scholarship Award cover fees and stipend including any additional overseas level fees.

Apply now: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/scholarships/projects

Contact Us

Contact Us

Please get in touch if you have a research idea or would like to collaborate with us.

SPNspinalcord

Professor Fiona Boissonade, Network Director

f.boissonade@sheffield.ac.uk

Dr Emma Bird

e.v.bird@sheffield.ac.uk