Psychology Colloquium: Dr. Jeffrey Mogil, McGill University

Dr. Jeffrey Mogil
E.P. Taylor Professor of Pain Studies, CRC Chair in the Genetics of Pain (Tier I), Director, Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain, McGill University, Montreal, QC

Title
Pain in Mice and Men: Ironic Adventures in Translation

Abstract
Recent decades have seen an explosion in our understanding of the molecular and cellular underpinnings of pain, but virtually none of this knowledge has resulted in new clinical therapies. The first part of the talk will explore the reasons for this lack of translation, including a mismatch between clinical characteristics and preclinical experimental design choices, species-specific gene expression, and emerging challenges in clinical trials. The second part of the talk will focus on recent studies in our laboratory concerning the modulation of pain by social factors. One would imagine these would be even harder to translate into humans, but in this domain translation between mice and undergraduates has been surprisingly successful. These observations collectively challenge assumptions commonly made about the biopsychosocial model, and have important philosophical implications for animal research.

This event is jointly sponsored by the British Columbia Pain Research Network and UBC’s Department of Psychology.

About

Dr. Jeffrey Mogil is interested in nervous system mechanisms mediating the perception and inhibition of pain. Pain is a complex, subjective experience that displays considerable variability compared to other sensory modalities. In some instances and in some people, intensely noxious stimuli are not reported as causing pain, whereas others can experience excruciating pain from light touching of the skin. Some people are highly sensitive to pain relief from placebo administration, while others are insensitive to even high doses of morphine. Research is focused on uncovering and explaining sources of variability in these phenomena. Dr. Mogil uses a multidisciplinary approach ranging from molecular gene mapping to the development of new behavioural models. Recent experiments have uncovered surprising and intriguing social effects on pain behaviours in mice, and much current work in the laboratory is aimed at understanding these.


Annually the Department of Psychology hosts a Colloquia Series throughout the academic year.