Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
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SFB 1158_Kuner0119 - Scientist (f/m) / PhD position
Project no:
SFB 1158_Kuner0119

Project leader:

Project supervisor:
Kuner, Rohini
Application deadline:
15. Nov 2019
Start of PhD project:
1. Jan 2020

Project description:

Neural circuits mediating analgesia
Chronic pain is a major health problem word-wide. Our laboratory works on elucidating mechanisms and circuits underlying chronic pain (see, for example, Tan et al. Nature Communications 2019; Tan et al. Nature Neuroscience 2017; Vicuna et al. Nature Medicine 2015; Kuner and Flor, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2016). We are seeking PhD students in projects aimed at elucidating brain pathways and mechanisms involved in chronic pain in mouse models. Methods include viral-based circuit mapping, labelling cellular engrams, optogenetics, chemogenetics, in vivo multiphoton imaging, in vivo electrophysiology, neuromodulation and behavior.

The prefrontal cortex is implicated in chronic pain, as well as other emotional states, such as fear and anxiety. This project will address the hypothesis is that neural circuits underlying pain and those involved in other prefrontal functions, such as fear or stress response, are distinct under naive conditions, but may show strong interactions over chronic pain states. It will make use of highly modern molecular engramming tools, such as binary, tetracycline-inducible, c-Fos promoter-based activity mapping system, to label ensembles neurons selectively activated in specific pain or fear states. Employing optogenetic approaches, we will then manipulate cellular engrams in behavioral assays of chronic pain in mice.
1. Tan LL, Oswald MJ, Heinl C, Retana Romero OA, Kaushalya SK, Monyer H, Kuner R.Gamma oscillations in somatosensory cortex recruit prefrontal and descending serotonergic pathways in aversion and nociception. Nat Commun. 2019 Feb28;10(1):983.

2. Tan LL, Pelzer P, Heinl C, Tang W, Gangadharan V, Flor H, Sprengel R, Kuner T, Kuner R. A pathway from midcingulate cortex to posterior insula gates nociceptive hypersensitivity. Nat Neurosci. 2017 Nov;20(11):1591-1601

3. Kuner R, Flor H. Structural plasticity and reorganisation in chronic pain. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2016 Dec 15;18(1):20-30.

4. Vicuña L, Strochlic DE, Latremoliere A, Bali KK, Simonetti M, Husainie D, Prokosch S, Riva P, Griffin RS, Njoo C, Gehrig S, Mall MA, Arnold B, Devor M, Woolf CJ, Liberles SD, Costigan M, Kuner R. The serine protease inhibitor SerpinA3N attenuates neuropathic pain by inhibiting T cell-derived leukocyte elastase. Nat Med. 2015 May;21(5):518-23.
Methods that will be used:
viral-based circuit mapping, labelling cellular engrams, optogenetics, chemogenetics, neuromodulation and behavior
Cooperation partners:
Thomas Kuner, Heidelberg University
Johannes Gräf, Switzerland
Personal qualifications:
Applicants must have a strong background and training in neuroscience and preferably have experience in at least 2 of the methods described above.
Pain chronicity, transgenic mice, molecular tools, optogenetics, behaviour