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COM Student David Nicholas takes first prize in poster competition at pain association meeting

David Nicholas with Kinuyo Ohara of Nihon University’s School of Dentistry
David Nicholas with Kinuyo Ohara of Nihon University’s School of Dentistry

November 11, 2019

University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) student David Nicholas (’22) recently presented his research at the Annual Eastern Pain Association (EPA) Fall Meeting, at New York University (NYU) Langone, New York, New York.

Nicholas won the first-place prize in the poster competition for his research, titled “Spinal Cord Microglial Phenotypic Changes Following Sciatic Nerve Crush in CD137L KO Mice.”

Nicholas’ project investigated the potential steps through which CD137L, a co-stimulatory protein involved in immune responses, contributes to the development of pain afflicted onto the nervous system.

Results so far support the theory that the nervous system cell microglia, involved in pain in CD137L protein-depleted mice, show an increased anti-inflammatory response and lesser pain response compared to microglia from CD137L positive mice following peripheral nerve injury.

This study indicates that researchers may want to develop and test medicines that target inflammation status to help address chronic pain.

Nicholas’ poster represents his research work under the mentorship of Ling Cao, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, during the spring and summer of 2019. Kinuyo Ohara, D.D.S., Ph.D., visiting scholar from Nihon University’s School of Dentistry, Tokyo, Japan, also made significant contributions to the research project.

“My research experiences at both UNE and NYU have demonstrated to me the dedication, energy and commitment required for developing new treatment modalities,” stated Nicholas.

Cao’s on-going research on neuropathic pain is supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Generous support for Nicholas’ project was provided through the UNE COM Peter Morgane Student Research Fellowship, which is funded by the UNE COM Dean’s Office and the Office of Research and Scholarship.

Winning poster abstracts from the meeting are expected to be published in the Journal of Pain Research.

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