This website uses cookies to understand how you use the website and to improve your experience. By continuing to use the website, you accept the University of New England’s use of cookies and similar technologies. To learn more about our use of cookies and how to manage your browser cookie settings, please review our Privacy Notice.


Neuroscience and Pain

Chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans per year, resulting in extraordinary personal and societal costs in diminished quality of life, lost productivity and health care consumption. For many of these patients, available treatments are inadequate, creating a dire need for the development of more effective treatments. The transition from acute to chronic pain is driven by changes in the processing of sensory information in both the peripheral and central nervous system, a form of maladaptive plasticity that can be considered a separate disease entity in its own right. Research programs at UNECOM on the neurobiology of pain use molecular, physiological, pharmacological and behavioral approaches to understand the mechanisms that underlie the development of chronic pain and to develop new therapeutic interventions. 


Ling Cao

Ling Cao

M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Immunology

(207) 602-2213

Pickus Center




Tamara King

Associate Professor, Physiology

(207) 602-2981

Stella Maris

Research interests center around mechanistic analysis of pain, with a specific focus on cancer-induced bone pain, osteoarthritis induced joint pain and chronic pain induced by nerve injury (neuropathic pain). An important aspect of my research is using approaches that allow for mechanistic evaluation of affective/motivational aspects of pain and pain relief in the preclinical setting. Such an approach will lead to the discovery of molecules that can effectively ameliorate ongoing pain across various preclinical models of pain, including cancer induced bone... Read More


chronic pain

David J. Mokler, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology

Dr. Mokler joined the faculty at UNE in 1986.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Michigan State University in 1974 and his dual Doctorate in Pharmacology/Toxicology and Neurosciences from Michigan State University in 1984.  

His research focuses on the limbic system of the brain.  He has published widely on the serotonergic system of the brain.  He has worked in the area of prenatal protein malnutrition effects on the brain since 1995.  Recent work has focused on interactions... Read More




substance abuse

drug abuse

brain development



animal behavior

limbic system

Headshot of Derek Molliver

Associate Professor

(207) 602-2221

Stella Maris

Derek Molliver received his B.A. from Williams College in 1988 and went on to complete his PhD in Neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis in 1997, studying the role of neurotrophic factors in the development of peripheral sensory neuron identity with Dr. William Snider. He then took a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Ed McCleskey at the Vollum Institute of Oregon Health and Science University, examining the function of purinergic G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in adult nociceptive sensory neurons. After two... Read More



cell and molecular biology

Neurobiology of acute and pathological pain including neuropathic pain

G protein coupled receptors


mitochondrial dynamics

Christoph Straub

Assistant Professor, Biomedical Sciences

Stella Maris

Dr. Straub received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Giessen in Germany, and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Yale University. Following a research fellowship with Dr. B. Sabatini at Harvard Medical School, he was a visiting faculty at Bowdoin College for 1.5 years, beforejoining the University of New England in 2019, where he is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. His research focuses on on functional microcircuits within the brain. His lab utilizes electrophysiological and optical approaches, combined with cell biology and biochemistry, to address basic questions of cellular functions in local brain circuits. A specific emphasis is on how central microcircuits are altered by chronic pain.Read More


Multi-photon imaging

Cell biology


Basal ganglia


chronic pain

Kerry Tucker

Associate Professor, Anatomy

(207) 602-2512

I come from the North Shore of Massachusetts, and I studied biochemistry at Harvard College, starting my research career purifying clathrin proteins from sheep brain at Harvard Medical School. I continued my studies as a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, MA where I studied the role of DNA methylation in the development of the mouse, working in the lab of Rudolf Jaenisch. I then switched to developmental neuroscience as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory... Read More






Macroscopic anatomy

molecular biology