Carleton Professor Wins Grant to Study Chronic Pain

By Kirsten Fenn

A Carleton professor has been awarded a $50,000 research grant to study chronic pain, which he hopes could lead to potential strategies for treatment.

Michael Hildebrand, assistant professor of in the Department of Neuroscience, received the 2016 Early Career Investigator Pain Research Grant (Basic Sciences) at a reception in Vancouver, B.C. on Thursday, May 26.

The one-year grant is awarded annually by the Canadian Pain Society (CPS) and Pfizer Canada.

It is designed to help university faculty conduct preliminary research that could be used to apply for a tri-council grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

“Pain is a huge problem in Canadian society,’’ Hildebrand said. “One in five Canadians suffer from chronic pain and yet most of the medications that are used aren’t very good. They don’t work for a lot of people, they have bad side effects, they work less with time.”

Hildebrand said he will use the grant to understand what molecular and cellular changes in the spinal cord lead to the development of chronic pain. He will look at models of inflammatory pain like arthritis, as well as pain caused by spinal cord injuries.

The research will also be student-driven, giving both undergraduates and graduates a chance to “drive things forward” with fresh ideas, Hildebrand said, making this “an exciting time for the lab.”

“We need to develop better treatments in the future, so this is kind of one small piece in that puzzle of potentially leading to new strategies to better manage and treat pain.”

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