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Max-Planck-Institut für Experimentelle Medizin
Group leader: Manuela Schmidt and Project leader: David Gomez Varela

Somatosensory Signaling and Systems Biology Group

The perception of and appropriate reaction to external and internal stimuli is critical for survival. In vertebrates, chemical, mechanical (from pleasant touch to painful contact) and thermal stimuli are detected by specialized somatic sensory neurons which transfer these signals via the spinal cord to the brain. An important subset of these neurons, so-called nociceptors, senses noxious stimuli. Consequently, their activation mediates nociception and leads to the sensation of pain.
Pain is the single most common symptom for which patients seek medical assistance. While acute pain has served as a protective mechanism throughout evolution to guard the body against injury, pain can also become chronic and highly debilitating. Unfortunately, chronic pain imposes substantial challenges to medical practice: current therapies can be effective for short-term treatment however many do not provide sufficient relief to chronic conditions or cause strong side-effects. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying both, acute and chronic pain is crucially needed.
Our research focuses on the comparative and quantitative analysis of somatosensory signaling networks in established mouse models of acute and chronic pain. To this purpose our lab employs interactomics, genetic profiling, calcium-imaging, electrophysiology, neuronal tracing and mouse behavioral studies in order to address key questions:

  • What are the specific dynamic changes that occur at the molecular, cellular and network levels in nociceptors during acute and chronic pain?
  • How are these changes mirrored in pain-related regions of the central nervous system?

Please see also our research report 2016 (only available in german):


Dr. Manuela Schmidt
Emmy Noether-Nachwuchsgruppe Somatosensory Signaling and Systems Biology
Max Planck Institute für Experimentelle Medizin
Hermann-Rein-Str. 3
D-37075 Goettingen
Phone: +49 (0)551 3899-572
Fax: +49 (0)551 3899-573

Academia-net profile:
Lab Homepage:

We are grateful to our funding sources:

Emmy Noether Program, DFG

Research Grants, DFG

CRC 889, DFG

Max von Frey Preis 2015 und Förderpreis 2015, Dt. Schmerzgesellschaft

MPI and GGNB Junior Group Leader Support

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