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Wellcome Trust conference The Challenges of Chronic Pain

11-13 March 2015
Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK

Abstract deadline: 30 January 2015
Registration deadline: 16 February 2015

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Europain consortium receives EU and industry funding and begins five year research into better treatments for chronic pain Europain, a public-private consortium funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), announced today the launch of a five-year research project to understand and improve treatment of chronic pain. The project will receive 6M€ from the IMI as well as 12.5M€ in kind contribution from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) over the coming five years.

One in five adults suffers from chronic pain. This constitutes a major cause of long-term sick leave and forced early retirement, placing a great financial burden on both individuals and healthcare systems. Despite extensive research programmes by biopharmaceutical companies and academia, there remains a need for treatments that are more effective and with fewer side-effects.

Europain has established an international team of leading researchers and clinicians from both academia and industry to undertake multidisciplinary translational research. This team aims to increase the understanding of chronic pain mechanisms, help to develop novel analgesics, and develop better biomarkers for pain. Their ultimate goal is to improve the lives of people suffering from chronic pain.

During the five-year project, Europain will undertake a large number of preclinical and clinical studies. The program will be delivered through collaboration between laboratories in the Europain network, sharing resources to improve the value derived from the budget. Results will be made public during and after the project, ensuring that the knowledge created can be widely applied to the development of better therapies for patients suffering from chronic pain.

King’s College London, the managing entity of Europain and the academic lead institution will contribute to both the pre-clinical and clinical aspects of the project. One role will be to study the expression of potential pain mediators in both animal models of pain and samples from patients suffering from chronic pain. The role of novel pain mediators will then be investigated using an array of techniques ranging from cell culture to quantitative sensory testing in humans.

Professor Steve McMahon, who along with Dr Dave Bennett will be running the project at King’s, comments: ‘There are some big questions facing the pain field at the moment and this consortium, drawing on the skills and expertise of both academia and industry, is in a unique position to address them’.

The consortium network involves scientists representing 12 renowned European Universities: King’s College London (Academic lead), University College London, Imperial College London, the University of Oxford, the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, the Medical Faculty Mannheim/Heidelberg University, the Technische Universität München, the Goethe University of Frankfurt, the BG University Hospital Bergmannsheil/Ruhr University Bochum, the University Hospitals of Aarhus, Rigshospitalet Copenhagen, University of Southern Denmark, the SME Neuroscience Technologies from Barcelona, and the research resources and expertise of Europe’s most active pharmaceutical companies working in the field of analgesics, including AstraZeneca (co-ordinator), Boehringer-Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Esteve, Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, UCB Pharma.

About the Innovative Medicines Initiative

IMI is a unique Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the pharmaceutical industry represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and the European Union represented by the European Commission.
Ph.D. Positions
Structure of the 4 year PhD programme in pain research
The first year
The four year programme provides a broad research training in pain neuroscience, and allows students to make a more informed choice of supervisor and project. This is achieved by having an initial training year in which the students attend some specialized courses, journal clubs and workshops and do three brief (3 month) research projects in different labs in the Pain consortium. These 'rotation' projects will be organised such that students gain experience in at least two of the following broad categories of pain research:- molecular, cellular, developmental and systems (including human). By working in different labs, the students will have the opportunity to acquire a broader range of experimental and theoretical techniques, and to work with supervisors with whom they may wish to do research for the PhD.

Student progress during the first year is assessed by:
(i) a write-up and 10 minute oral presentation on each lab placement
(ii) their placement supervisor's assessment of their work
(iii) their contribution to journal clubs they attend
(iv) the writing of a research plan outlining their proposed PhD project for the subsequent 3 years.

Examples of typical rotation projects undertaken in previous years

The 3 PhD years
After their first year, students will choose to work with one primary supervisor doing research for the PhD (this might be in one of the labs they worked in during the first year, or a different lab). However all PhD projects involve a collaboration between at least two laboratories (of which at least one will be a Consortium member) so the student will continue to gain experience in a number of experimental approaches to a research question. During the PhD students will be encouraged to attend advanced training courses and research meetings in the UK and overseas. Specimen PhD projects

Pastoral care
Throughout the 4 years, the student's progress will be monitored and assessed by members of the Consortium responsible for the training provided. Professor Tony Dickenson provides informal advice and help at any time. Students will be integrated into the community of pain researchers within the Consortium by participation in journal clubs and social events (many of which are arranged by the students and postdocs themselves). Career advice will be given in the last year to prepare the student for their post doctoral career.