Dr David Finn of NUI Galway has been awarded the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Award for best paper published in an indexed journal in 2012 in the Pain/Anaesthesia category. Dr Finn, lecturer in Pharmacology, Co-Director of the Centre for Pain Research, and Leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, received the award at a ceremony held the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin.
The first author of the winning paper was Dr Weredeselam Olango who did the work during his PhD under the supervision of Dr Finn and Dr Michelle Roche in Physiology, NUI Galway. The Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Awards are presented each year to Irish or Irish-based researchers who are judged to have published the best research papers in international, peer-reviewed journals.
The winning paper confirmed the key role of a midbrain region called the periaqueductal grey in the suppression of pain behaviour by fear (so-called fear-induced analgesia). Fear-induced analgesia was associated with increases in levels of marijuana-like substances known as endocannabinoids in this part of the brain. Furthermore, fear-induced analgesia was prevented by injecting a drug that blocked the receptor at which these endocannabinoids act into the periaqueductal grey.
An increased understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in fear-induced analgesia is important from a fundamental physiological perspective and may also advance the search for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain.
Dr David Finn, senior author on the paper, said: “We are very pleased that our work has been recognised with this prestigious award. This research which was funded by grants from Science Foundation Ireland and the Irish Research Council, advances our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.”