My career goal is to broaden the understanding of central pain processing to develop targeted, novel therapeutics for specific headache syndromes. My experiences with patients who experience migraines prompted me to think more deeply about concepts of pain and central sensitization. Migraineurs have exquisite sensitivity to external stimuli, and headaches seem to be triggered by pain pathways that may have undergone maladaptive changes. Additionally, long-term acute medication use promotes the severity and frequency of migraines, which can become refractory to treatment. Because migraines can worsen over time, this indicates plastic changes in circuitry may be potential targets for new therapies.
I am currently employing state of the art optogenetic methods combined with ex vivo brain slice whole cell physiology and pharmacology to interrogate specific circuits implicated in migraine pathophysiology. Evaluating changes in these circuits in response to headache or analgesic use will provide much needed insight into clinical conditions such as chronic migraine and medication overuse headache, fulfilling an underserved translational need in the area of headache.