Neuropathic Pain Research

About us

Aim and Concepts

The principal aim of our research is to understand the relationship between the nervous system and the immune system, with particular emphasis on how immune cells and their mediators affect neuropathic pain caused by damage to the nervous system. Neuropathic pain is a form of chronic pain arising as a direct consequence of a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory nervous system, and is characterized by spontaneous pain and increases in pain sensitivity. Neuropathic pain is a debilitating condition, which significantly reduces the quality of life of sufferers, and lacks effective treatments.

We use animal models of neuropathic pain and in vitro work to investigate the neuroimmune crosstalk in the injured nervous system. Animal models include peripheral nerve injury, spinal cord injury, autoimmune disease of the peripheral nervous system (experimental autoimmune neuritis, EAN; a model of Guillain-Barre Syndrome), and autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, EAE; a model of multiple sclerosis). This knowledge can then be used for identifying target molecules or cells for therapeutic purposes in reducing chronic pain.

image - Neuropathic Pain Research                                    image - Neuropathic Pain Research

Experimental techniques include:

  • Animal surgery (e.g., peripheral nerve injury, spinal cord injury)
  • Animal immunisation (e.g., induction of experimental autoimmune neuritis)
  • Animal behaviour studies (measuring withdrawal latency to thermal stimuli using a plantar analgesia meter for paw stimulation, and measuring withdrawal threshold to mechanical stimuli using an electronic von Frey anesthesiometer)
  • Histological work (fluorescent/confocal microscopy and image analysis)
  • Cell culture
  • Western blot
  • Flow cytometry
  • Cytokine assays
  • Electrophysiology using the technique of in vitro threshold tracking to measure axonal excitability

Key Acheivements

April 2018: Sam Duffy was awarded his PhD and Ryan Tonkin submitted his PhD thesis.

image - Neuropathic Pain Research

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UNSW Graduation 2016

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May 2015: Chamini, Justin and Preet presenting posters at the 5th International Congress on Neuropathic Pain, Nice France

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Grants & Funding

Source and subject of grant



Sums (AUD)

NHMRC Project Grant (ID # APP1045343)

“Understanding the role of regulatory T cells in chronic pain following nerve injury"

Moalem-Taylor G, Cameron B, Lin C



Spinal Cord Injury Network Grant - Towards Translation - Capacity Building Initiative

“Modulation of gap junction channels for the treatment of spinal cord injury”

Moalem-Taylor G, Gorrie CA, Green CR, O’Carroll SJ, Nicholson LFB

2013 -2016




  • Ryan Tonkin - PhD student (02/2014 - Present)
  • Preet Singh - PhD student (02/2014 - Present)
  • Brooke Keating - PhD student (2016 - Present)
  • Lital Livni - PhD student (2017 - Present)
  • Mallory Luke - PhD student (2017 - Present)


  • Chamini Perera, PhD (2016)
  • Sam Duffy, PhD (2018)
  • Munnawar Abdullah, Master by Research (2018)