Understanding pain pathways

The mysterious language of pain and the fight to switch it off

Within our bodies, we have an intricate network of nerve cells that help us to perceive the world. They’re called sensory neurons. Sensory neurons convert external stimuli from the environment into messages within the body. One of their roles is to transmit pain messages to the brain. It is a useful process that protects us from damage (in the case of touching a hot surface), but with certain diseases, it can cause debilitating chronic pain that science is currently at a loss to treat.

Dr Irina Vetter is demystifying the different pathways that contribute to pain in various disease states so that we can help the one in five Australians that live with chronic pain.

“Chronic pain costs the Australian economy around $40 billion per year. It causes enormous disruption to people's physical and mental wellbeing and their personal life.

"There is also a lot of stigma around pain because of the lack of understanding about its cause, and because you cannot see pain," said Dr Vetter.

"And current drugs either don't work or have terrible side effects, like addiction."

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Dr Irina Vetter

Dr Irina Vetter

Group Leader, Chemistry and Structural Biology Division

Deputy Director, Centre for Pain Research

  +61 7 3346 2660  
  i.vetter@imb.uq.edu.au
  IMB Researcher Profile
  Centre for Pain Research


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  Group Leader

  • Dr Irina Vetter

    Deputy Director, IMB Centre for Pain Research
    ARC Future Fellow
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience

  Researchers

  Students

  • Ms Mathilde Israel

    Higher degree by research (PhD) student
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience
  • Mr Alexander Mueller

    Higher degree by research (PhD) student
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience
  • Ms Hana Starobova

    Higher degree by research (PhD) student
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience
  • Mr Bryan Tay

    Higher degree by research (PhD) student
    Institute for Molecular Bioscience