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The impact of pain on the aging nervous system

School of Life Sciences

About the Project

The way in which pain is detected and processed changes significantly over the life-course. This project will utilise our world-leading skills in in vivo neurophysiology, neuropharmacology and cell biology to understand how pain mechanisms change as we age and to try and identify targets to treat pain in a more age-appropriate manner. We will use novel in vivo electrophysiology approaches along with MRI based imaging tools to study how the brain and spinal cord process pain. We will also look at how the nervous system interacts with both the systemic and central immune systems using post-mortem approaches (immunohistochemistry, qPCR, transcriptomics) and primary cell culture. Recent work from our laboratory has highlighted some processes that occur in the brain, spinal cord and immune systems that have profound and long-lasting impacts on later life pain processing.

Work in the Hathway laboratory seeks to understand how early life experiences shape later life pain processing. We use an integrative approach, which means we use multiple techniques to answer pressing questions about how the nervous system works. This also equips students with a diverse range of skills to shape their future careers. We are located in excellent laboratories in the Medical School at The University of Nottingham. We collaborate closely with colleagues in the UK and globally, in both clinical and pre-clinical pain research and are member of the Versus Arthritis national Pain Centre.

Students are supported in their projects and professional development, with a strong emphasis on producing world-class data that will be published in leading journals.

The University of Nottingham is one of the world’s most respected research-intensive universities, ranked 8th in the UK for research power (REF 2014). Students studying in the School of Life Sciences will have the opportunity to thrive in a vibrant, multidisciplinary environment, with expert supervision from leaders in their field, state-of-the-art facilities and strong links with industry. Students are closely monitored in terms of their personal and professional progression throughout their study period and are assigned academic mentors in addition to their supervisory team. The School provides structured training as a fundamental part of postgraduate personal development and our training programme enables students to develop skills across the four domains of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF). During their studies, students will also have the opportunity to attend and present at conferences around the world. The School puts strong emphasis on the promotion of postgraduate research with a 2-day annual PhD research symposium attended by all students, plus academic staff and invited speakers.

Funding Notes

Home applicants should contact the supervisor to determine the current funding status for this project. EU applicants should visit the Graduate School webpages View Website for information on specific EU scholarships. International applicants should visit our International Research Scholarships page View Website for information regarding fees and funding at the University.


GREENSPON CM, BATTELL EE, DEVONSHIRE IM, DONALDSON LF, CHAPMAN V, HATHWAY GJ. 2019 Lamina-specific population encoding of cutaneous signals in the spinal dorsal horn using multi-electrode arrays. J. Physiol. 597(2):377-397
GURSUL D, GOKSAN S, HARTLEY C, MELLADO GS, MOULTRIE F, HOSKIN A, ADAMS E, HATHWAY G, WALKER S, MCGLONE F, SLATER R. 2018 Stroking modulates noxious-evoked brain activity in human infants. Curr Biol. 17;28(24):R1380-R1381
GOKSAN S, BAXTER L, MOULTRIE F, DUFF E, HATHWAY G, HARTLEY C, TRACEY I, SLATER R. 2018 The influence of the descending pain modulatory system on infant pain-related brain activity. eLife 11:7 pii: e37125
HAYWOOD AR, HATHWAY GJ, CHAPMAN V. 2018 Differential contributions of peripheral and central mechanisms to pain in a rodent model of osteoarthritis. Sci Rep. 8;8(1):7122
HATHWAY GJ, MURPHY E, LLOYD J, GREENSPON C, HULSE RP. 2017 Cancer Chemotherapy in Early Life Significantly Alters the Maturation of Pain Processing. Neuroscience doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.11.032.
KWOK CH, DEVONSHIRE IM, IMRAISH A, GREENSPON CM, LOCKWOOD S, FIELDEN C, COOPER A, WOODHAMS S, SARMAD S, ORTORI CA, BARRETT DA, KENDALL D, BENNETT AJ, CHAPMAN V, HATHWAY GJ. 2017 Age-dependent plasticity in endocannabinoid modulation of pain processing through postnatal development. Pain 158(11):2222-2232

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