Sun 14th - 19th July Pullman Cairns Int'l North QLD Australia


  • Grunenthal Australia

  • Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences

  • Alkermes

  • QRx Pharma


  • ASPET - Neuropharmacology Division

  • British Journal of Pharmacology

  • British Pharmacological Society

  • Ian Potter Foundation

  • International Society for Neurochemistry


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Symposium Speakers


International Speakers

Brady Atwood

Dr Brady Atwood

Dr. Atwood received his Ph.D. in neurobiology and behaviour from the University of Washington in 2010.  His graduate research was performed in the laboratory of Ken Mackie where he studied cannabinoid receptor signalling as well as the functional selectivity of cannabinoid receptor ligands. 

He is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the laboratory of David Lovinger where he studies the effects of opioids on synaptic plasticity in the dorsal striatum.

His primary research interest is on how drugs of abuse modulate neurotransmission in the basal ganglia. 

William Birdsong

Dr William Birdsong

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Vollum Institute at Oregon Health & Science University. Since 2008 I have been working with Dr. John Williams studying mechanisms of acute mu-opioid receptor desensitization using optical and electrophysiological approaches.

After receiving my BS degree as a biochemistry major at the University of Oregon, I obtained my doctoral degree from Oregon Health & Science University.

My doctoral research was completed in the lab of Dr. Ed McCleskey studying the role of acid-sensing ion channels in the sensation of ischemic pain.

Stephanie Borgland

Dr Stephanie Borgland

Stephanie Borgland is an assistant professor in the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary.  She received her PhD in Neuropharmacology in 2002 from the University of Sydney, Australia, where she studied the effects of opioids on receptor desensitization and tolerance with Professors Mark Connor and MacDonald Christie.

She then did a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Antonello Bonci at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Centre at the University of California, San Francisco studying how cocaine alters synaptic strength of glutamatergic synapses on mesolimbic dopamine neurons in rodents. She returned to Canada in 2008 to start her own research program at the University of British Columbia. In 2010, she received a Canadian Institute of Health Research New Investigator Award. 

Her focus of interest centers on the mesolimbic dopamine system and how circulating hormones and neuropeptides modulate synaptic transmission of dopamine neurons in the mesolimbic reward system.

Her research aims to understand the neurobiological mechanisms responsible for the homeostatic regulation of brain reward circuits and how drugs of abuse can hijack normal appetitive behavior.

Sandra Comer

Dr Sandra Comer

Dr Sandra Comer is a Professor of Clinical Neurobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University and a Research Scientist VI at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Following PhD studies at the University of Michigan and post-doctoral research at the University of Minnesota, Dr Comer joined Columbia University in 1993, where her research focus has been on the development and testing of novel approaches to the treatment of opioid dependence. 

She is the Director of the Opioid Laboratories in the Division on Substance Abuse and runs a very active research program devoted to examining various aspects of the abuse liability of opioid medications.

Wakako Fujita

Dr Wakako Fujita

Wakako Fujita is a senior scientist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai working in the laboratory of Dr. Lakshmi Devi where she works on the molecular mechanisms of opioid action. She received her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science in 2004 from Nagasaki University, Japan. She joined Wakayama Medical University, Japan, as an instructor in 2004, and in 2006, she joined Kobe-Gakuin University, Japan, as an assistant professor.

Focus of her current research is to understand the molecular mechanism/s of opioid tolerance as it relates to opioid receptor heteromers.

Louis Gendron

Associate Professor Louis Gendron

Dr. Louis Gendron is the recipient of the inaugural “2013 INRC Young Investigator Award”.

After being trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Alain Beaudet (McGill University) and Charles Chavkin (University of Washington), Dr. Gendron was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the Université de Sherbrooke in 2006 and raised to the rank of Associate Professor in 2011.

Using pain models, microscopy and cellular biology, in vivo pharmacology and behavioral testing, Dr. Gendron’s principal interest is to study the regulation of the delta opioid receptor and to examine its effects in the control of pain. He also investigates the role of opioid receptor interactions in opioid tolerance.

Robert Gereau

Professor Robert Gereau

Dr. Gereau earned a BS in Biology from Missouri State University, a PhD in Neuroscience from Emory University, and completed postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute. Gereau is a Professor of Anesthesiology at Washington University, where he serves as Director of the Washington University Pain Center.

His laboratory utilizes behavioral studies, electrophysiology, optogenetics, and molecular/ genetic approaches to understand nervous system plasticity that underlies pain sensitization. The lab also conducts clinical studies aimed at translating findings from the lab into new or improved therapies for patients with pain.

Studies include comparative studies of human physiology to preclinical models and healthy human volunteer studies aimed at establishing proof of concept for novel analgesic therapies based on our preclinical work. 

Eamonn Kelly

Dr Eamonn Kelly

After graduating in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of Sheffield, Dr Kelly undertook a PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College Hospital in London studying the neurochemistry of Parkinson’s Disease. After postdoctoral positions in Leicester and Birmingham studying the molecular pharmacology of dopamine and adenosine receptors, he took up a lectureship at the University of Bristol.

Dr Kelly is currently Reader in Molecular Pharmacology at Bristol, and is interested in the signaling, desensitization and trafficking of GPCRs, and in particular the role of kinases and arrestins in these processes. In recent years Dr Kelly has become particularly interested in the molecular regulation of MOPr, and how this might relate to opioid tolerance.

Dr Kelly is also very interested in ligand bias at this receptor and how it can be measured.

Dominique Massotte

Dr Dominique Massotte

Dominique Massotte trained in membrane protein biochemistry and biophysics at EMBL (Heidelberg, Germany) and at the University of Liège (Belgium) from which she received her PhD. After a postdoctoral stay at the Max-Planck Institute where she developed the baculovirus expression system (Cologne, Germany), she was appointed a CNRS research position. She worked successively at ESBS (Illkirch, France) and the University of Glasgow (UK) before integrating the Institute for Genetics and Cellular and Molecular Biology (Illkirch, France).

She first worked on expression and characterization of recombinant opioid receptors in various heterologous systems with a particular attention to determinants underlying receptor-G protein coupling and functional impact of mu-delta opioid receptor heteromer formation.

Her current research focuses on the dynamics of endogenous opioid receptors in their native neuronal environment to decipher the molecular mechanisms by which these receptors operate within neural circuits and adapt to chronic opiates in vivo. Current questions under investigation include possible in vivo heteromer formation between mu and delta co-localized in the same neuron and its impact on receptor dynamics and cell physiology.


Jose Moron-Concepcion

Dr Jose Moron-Concepcion

Dr Jose Moron-Concepcion obtained his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Barcelona in Spain. Then, he moved to the US to work as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in the laboratory of Dr Toni Shippenberg.

He did a second postdoc at Mount Sinai working in the laboratory of Dr Lakshmi Devi where he worked on the molecular mechanisms underlying opiate dependence.  

He started his independent career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas in Galveston where he conducted work to elucidate the mechanisms underlying opiate-induced neuroplasticity. Three years later, he was recruited by Columbia University in New York where he is currently leading a research program on opiate dependence and opiate-induced hyperalgesia.  

In addition, he is also interested in studying the intersection between chronic pain and opiate addiction.


John  Muschamp

Dr John Muschamp

John Muschamp is presently Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School's McLean Hospital.  He received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2007 from Florida State University where he studied regulation of the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system by hypocretin/orexin peptides and the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. 

Until 2011 he was a postdoctoral fellow in Bill Carlezon's laboratory at McLean where he studied the role of hypocretin and dynorphin co-transmission in preclinical models of reward and addiction.  He continues this line of investigation while expanding into the study of hypocretin and dynorphin peptides in rodent models of impulsive behaviour. 

This work has been generously supported by grants from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, and National Institute of Mental Health.           

Minoru Narita

Professor Minoru Narita

My current research is to focus on higher-brain dysfunction under chronic pain, the epigenetic modification of psychiatric disorders as well as pain, investigating the role of microRNA in refractory diseases, and the optogenetic approach for reword network.

I am currently working on stem-cell research and cancer research, which are associated with opioidergic function. I’m sure that opioids have a wide variety of pathophysiological functions, including the cell differentiation and transformation. Our department has a vibrant setting that is comprised of more than 70 people. 

Ulla Petaja-Repo

Dr Ulla Petaja-Repo

Ulla Petäjä-Repo is a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Biomedicine at the University of Oulu, Finland. After receiving her Ph.D. at the University of Oulu, she moved to Canada in 1995 to work as an AstraZeneca postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Michel Bouvier at the University of Montreal.

Since 2002 her laboratory has focused on investigating biosynthesis, processing and degradation of G protein-coupled receptors, using the delta opioid receptor as the main experimental model.

Her primary research interest is on understanding early folding and post-translational modification steps in receptor biogenesis and on quality control mechanisms that govern receptor expression levels. She is also interested in functional implications of the human delta opioid receptor Phe27Cys polymorphism at the cellular level.

Graciela Pineyro

Associate Professor Graciela Pineyro

Graciela Pineyro is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of Montreal. Her laboratory specializes in mechanism of action of opioids and antidepressants, and has used biophysical (BRET) and functional assays (signaling, endocytic-postendocytic trafficking) to study biased responses of opioid and 5-HT receptor ligands.

Her present research focuses on pharmacological properties of signaling complexes and the possibility of developing functionally selective ligands by pharmacologically targeting complexes of different composition.

Stefan Schulz

Professor Stefan Schulz

Dr Schulz is a Full Professor and Head of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Jena University Hospital, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

Between 2006 - 2007 Dr Schulz was an Associate Professor at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg, Germany.

Between 1995 - 2006 Dr Schulz was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Otto-von-Guericke-University, Magdeburg, Germany.

Christoph  Stein

Professor Christoph Stein

Christoph Stein was trained in Anesthesiology, Pain Management and Neuropharmacology at University Munich, SUNY, UCLA and Max-Planck-Institute of Psychiatry.

From 1992-97 he was faculty at Johns Hopkins Hospital with a research group at National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore. In 1997 he assumed the chair of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at Freie Universitaet Berlin/Charite, including a Pain Clinic and a research laboratory with basic researchers and clinicians in Pharmacology, Immunology, Pain and Neurosciences.

Since 1987 he investigates mechanisms of opioid analgesia, as well as bioethics of pain medicine and opioid use.

Bradley Taylor

Professor Bradley Taylor

Brad Taylor was trained in Pharmacology at UCSD and then in Neuroscience at UCSF with Allan Basbaum. He has held faculty positions at UCSF, U. Missouri, Tulane University, and now University of Kentucky. 

His laboratory investigates the mechanisms through which inflammation or nerve injury produces long-term changes in the spinal cord and brain, leading to a transition from acute pain to chronic pain. Recently, they reported in PNAS that endogenous neuropeptide Y tonically inhibits chronic pain – their lab is now extending these findings to the mu opioid receptor system in endogenous analgesia and dependence. 

Tuan Trang

Dr Tuan Trang

Dr. Trang received a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology from Queen’s University, Canada, where he studied the spinal mechanisms of opioid opioid tolerance and physical dependence.   

He then pursued postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Salter at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.  There he expanded his area of expertise into the cellular and molecular study of chronic pain.  

Dr. Trang is an assistant professor at the University of Calgary in the Faculties of Veterinary Medicine and Medicine, and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. His research program investigates the critical molecules and processes involved in pain and how these processes can go awry to produce chronic pain. 

A core focus of his research is on use of opioid drugs in treating chronic pain conditions.

Wendy Walwyn

Dr Wendy Walwyn

Dr Walwyn studies novel mechanisms of opiate receptor regulation by the arrestin family of proteins. For example, she has found that β-arrestin2 regulates morphine signalling through JNK kinase, an atypical role of this kinase normally associated with transcription and cell death.

This suggests that JNK may regulate pain relief, an avenue that we are further investigating.  She has also found that β-arrestin 1regulates the function of two opioid receptors and a glutamatergic receptor. In a complex signalling cascade that involves remodelling of the 3-dimensional actin cytoskeleton to transport receptors to and from the cell membrane, this arrestin isoform can regulate the analgesia induced by some opiates and the persistence of drug-seeking behaviours to the psychostimulant cocaine.

Together these findings show that the arrestins are critical mediators of pathways mediating pain relief and addiction. 

George Wilcox

Professor George Wilcox

My area of specialty is the spinal neuropharmacology of chronic pain and analgesic treatment with emphasis on inter-analgesic synergy.

During the last several years, two graduate students and a scientist in the lab have revealed the cellular mechanism and locus of the very powerful analgesic synergy between delta opioid and alpha2 adrenergic receptors in the spinal cord: receptors co-localize in primary nociceptive terminals in spinal cord and interact synergistically only in the presence of the intracellular signalling protein protein kinase C epsilon.

Xu Zhang

Professor Xu Zhang

Dr. Xu Zhang is head of Laboratory of Sensory System. He received Ph. D. at Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute. His study is focused on the molecular and cellular biology of neural disorders, such as chronic pain and mental retardation.

He has identified the gene expression profiles of the dorsal root ganglion in chronic pain models and several regulators of afferent neurotransmission such as sodium pump activator. His Lab has revealed the regulatory mechanisms of opioid receptor trafficking and interaction in nociceptors and its role in opioid tolerance. He also studies the role of microtubule stabilization in the brain development.

He has published 105 research and review articles, and serves as an editorial member in several international journals




Elana Bagley

Dr Elana Bagley

Dr Bagley completed a PhD, under the supervision of Professor MacDonald Christie, at The University of Sydney in 2001. She was a C.J Martin Fellow from 2001 to 2006. During this time she was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Gary Westbrook at the Vollum Institute (Oregon, USA) and at the Pain Management Research Institute (University of Sydney).

Dr Bagley has recently been appointed as a senior lecturer in the Discipline of Pharmacology. Her laboratory focuses on how modifications of synapse function or synapse malfunction produce changes in brain physiology, behaviour and ultimately result in diseases such as anxiety and drug dependence. In particular she is interested in how opioids might participate in anxiety and drug dependence.

Selena Bartlett

Professor Selena Bartlett

Professor Bartlett’s research aims to understand the neurobiological basis of addiction with an emphasis on alcohol use disorders. The goals of her research are to translate basic research on neuronal mechanisms underlying the development of addiction into successful pharmacotherapeutics for patients.

She has made significant contributions in animal model development, was the first to show that varenicline, a partial agonist at nicotinic receptors, reduces alcohol consumption in rodents that was subsequently translated into human clinical trials. Professor Selena Bartlett is a Group Leader at the Translational Research Institute at the Queensland University of Technology and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

Professor Bartlett worked at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California San Francisco for 11 years, a world leading research centre in the study of addiction prior to moving her research laboratory to Australia in 2012. 

Maree Smith

Professor Maree Smith

Professor Maree Smith has undertaken life sciences translational research at UQ for two decades and has specialist expertise in the field of new pain therapeutics development. Two of her inventions are being commercialized by the UQ spin-out companies, QRx Pharma and Spinifex Pharmaceuticals. 

She has supervised more than 20 PhD students and 30 Honours students to completion at UQ. In 2011, she was elected a New Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and in 2012 she was awarded the Life Sciences Queensland Industry Excellence Award.

Adrianne Wilson-Poe

Dr Adrianne Wilson-Poe

Adrianne Wilson-Poe Ph.D. joined the Kolling Institute, University of Sydney, as a postdoctoral research associate in 2011. Her research has been directed towards the analgesic affects of opioids and cannabinoids in descending analgesic pathways.

Her studies have provided substantial pre-clinical evidence supporting the use of combined opioid/cannabinoid therapies for pain relief.

Adrianne’s current research is focused on the synaptic adaptations that occur during morphine tolerance, and how these adaptations affect cannabinoid signaling and analgesia.

She received her Ph.D. from Washington State University in 2011, and is a native of the Pacific Northwest of the United States.