Researchers at the NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research were recently granted two major research funding awards. Dr David Finn was awarded a grant worth almost €1 million under the Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator programme and Dr Brian McGuire received funding of over €700,000 under the Health Research Board Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement programme, which aims to develop leading Irish health researchers.
Dr David Finn, Co-Director of Centre for Pain Research and Lecturer in Pharmacology was awarded the grant for his research programme entitled The role of the endocannabinoid system in anxiety-induced modulation of pain: sites and mechanisms of action. The programme seeks to advance our understanding of the neurobiology of anxiety-pain interactions and will employ two postdoctoral researchers and PhD students. Dr Finn will collaborate with Dr Michelle Roche, Lecturer in Physiology at NUI Galway, and with colleagues at University College London and the University of Nottingham on a series of experiments to investigate how the body’s own marijuana-like substances regulate pain during times of stress and anxiety.
Dr Finn said: “Anxiety and pain often occur together and there is evidence that anxiety can trigger the onset of pain and magnify existing pain, so anxiety may be an important target for new therapies in people with pain problems. Increased understanding of the effects of stress on pain is important and could pave the way for identification of new medications and other treatments for pain and anxiety disorders.”
Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, Dr Brian McGuire’s research programme will focus on chronic pain (pain that lasts more than 3 months). The award will fund three post-doctoral researchers from psychology, health promotion and health economics for a period of three years.
The research programme will look at a number of important aspects of chronic pain. The first study will examine the problem of chronic pain in young children aged 5 to12 years and will aim to find out how many children have chronic pain, how it affects them and their families, and how much it costs in economic terms. In the second study, researchers will evaluate a pain management programme using cognitive behavioural therapy which will be delivered over the internet. The third study will examine how GPs make clinical judgments about treating people with chronic low back pain and will provide information to the GPs with the aim of helping them to make better decisions. The project involves collaborators from the disciplines of general practice, medicine, health promotion, psychology and economics.
Commenting on his project, Dr McGuire said: “These projects have the potential to provide valuable information for health professionals, managers and policy makers. Most importantly, this research will help people who live with chronic pain on a daily basis.”
More information about NUI Galway’s Centre for Pain Research can be found at http://www.nuigalway.ie/centre_pain_research/