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Queen’s researcher receives award from Conquer Paralysis Now

Nader Ghasemlou is seeking innovative ways to treat chronic pain in spinal cord injury patients.

Queen’s University researcher Nader Ghasemlou has received the Conquer Paralysis Now (CPN) New Investigator Award to study the inflammatory response in patients suffering from spinal cord injuries (SCI).

Nader Ghasemlou
Dr. Nader Ghasemlou, an associate professor in the Queen's University Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, has received the the Conquer Paralysis Now (CPN) New Investigator Award for research into pain treatment for patients with a spinal cord injury. 

“A common misconception about spinal cord injuries is that because patients can’t feel or move their limbs, they can’t feel pain,” says Dr. Ghasemlou (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences). “In fact, up to 80 per cent of people with spinal cord injuries experience chronic pain.”

Dr. Ghasemlou and his research team hope to identify inflammatory biomarkers in various tissues including spinal fluid and blood from patients. They hope this will lead to the development of new therapeutic targets to treat and potentially eliminate the pain experienced by patients with SCI.

Reducing or eliminating pain would not only result in improvements to patient quality of life, but would also reduce the need for pain medicines, like opiates, which have a range of unappealing side effects and present a high risk for abuse.

Dr. Ghasemlou says his study will use a “bedside-to-bench” approach to study pain resulting from a spinal cord injury from a genomics, proteomics and behavioural approach. This approach uses clinical observations as the “starting point” for new research, which in turn leads back to patient-side implementation and further clinical observation.

The New Investigator Award aims to attract and support new researchers in the field of spinal cord injury.  The award is given to newly hired researchers that begin their career in SCI research after their graduate studies or established researchers who recently switched to the SCI field.

The New Investigator Award is one of six categories in Stage 1 of the CPN Challenge, which CPN issued for the first time this year. The CPN Challenge is designed to provide early stage funding for innovative new approaches to SCI research. The program sought out proposals that were unconventional, high risk yet high reward and offered the potential for functional recovery in chronic animal and human subjects.