Neuroinflammation in Chronic Pain – A Case for Interdisciplinary Research
June 25, 2020
11 am to 12 pm EDT



Webinar Description:

Neuroinflammation is a major feature of common nervous system disorders, including stroke, neurodegeneration, and chronic pain. And yet, science most often studies their mechanisms in interdisciplinary silos.

Consider the example of painful arthritis: we seem to have ended up with a situation where pain research is mostly focused on osteoarthritis, while immunologists and inflammation biologists have taken on rheumatoid arthritis. Both disciplines have made great strides, but this webinar will argue that it is time to take stock and ask what we can learn from each other.

The talk will present data from models of inflammatory arthritis and neuropathic pain to illustrate how importing knowledge, data and techniques from immunology can help neuroscientists turbocharge their research into neuroinflammation. Moreover, Cellectricon’s establishment of models for neuroinflammation, and how they can be applied in a drug discovery context will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about recent research in the immunology field that is relevant for neuroscientists working in pain and neurodegeneration.
  • Learn how to browse data online to help generate your own hypotheses or evaluate the literature.
  • Learn about the role of synovial fibroblasts in a model of painful inflammatory arthritis.
  • Learn about the role of macrophages in a model of traumatic neuropathic pain.
  • Learn about high capacity native in vitro models and how they can be applied in Drug Discovery for neuroinflammation/chronic pain.


Franziska Denk

Franziska Denk, DPhil
Lecturer, Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King’s College London
United Kingdom

Franziska Denk is a lecturer at King’s College London, where she works on neuroimmune interactions and epigenetic mechanisms in the context of chronic pain. Her lab uses transgenic mouse models and high-throughput molecular analyses, such as RNA-seq and Cut&Tag-seq, on sorted cell populations (, @denk_lab).

Franziska studied Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and completed her DPhil there in 2009. She started her own research group in 2017 with the help of an MRC New Investigator Research Grant. Since then, she has also received funding from the European Union (IMI2), industry and several charities.

Franziska is passionate about data sharing (Denk, Nature, 2017) and interdisciplinary research in an open, positive research culture. She is also looking to promote these values with future generations of scientists, as Co-Director of a recently established Wellcome Trust PhD Training Scheme in Neuro-immune Interactions at King’s College London (

Jeffery Cowden

Paul Karila, PhD
CSO & Director, Chronic Pain research
Cellectricon AB

Paul is a seasoned pre-clinical Drug Discovery expert with special interest in mechanistic models, phenotypic screening, and translational sciences. He joined Cellectricon in 2012 as head of Discovery Services. At Cellectricon, Paul and the team explore novel in vitro concepts for neurodegenerative diseases and chronic pain, which are developed into robust, high precision assays that can be accessed for screening, lead optimization and target discovery.

Paul previously worked at AstraZeneca (AZ) where he held leadership positions at the Departments of Molecular Pharmacology and Neuroscience. At AZ, he led teams responsible for target identification/target validation, ion channel and GPCR profiling, mainly in the chronic pain disease area. Prior to joining AZ, Paul was a Postdoctoral Fellow at School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, USA, studying neurobiology using electrophysiological methods, and a Graduate student in animal physiology at University of Gothenburg, Sweden.