Psychology IROPs

IROP 1 - The Role of Social Stress on the Development of Persistent Pain

Objectives and Methodology

In order to completely understand chronic pain we must also determine why only a fraction of subjects who experience an acute painful injury go on to develop chronic pain. To even begin to understand this, we will use preclinical mouse models of persistent pain. We will alter the psychological state of mice before or following the initiation of chronic pain and then measure the progression and severity of pain. To do this students will use behavioural techniques to assess stress/anxiety, pain thresholds and will be trained in small animal surgery.

Description of Student Participation

The first task of the students will be to develop a reliable model to induce stress/anxiety in mice.  This will either be done with social defeat stress or administration of corticosterone via the water supply.  Once the stress paradigm has been developed, students will assess whether altering the chronicity of the stress alters the progression of persistent pain.  Depending on the motivational level of the student(s) there is also opportunity to examine changes in receptor expression via basic molecular biology techniques. 

List of Skills Required / Instructor Preference & Student Experience

A strong desire to conduct basic science research in animal models is necessary.  An interest in pain or stress is a plus, but there is no explicit requirement for previous animal research.