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Friday Research Seminar Series

Hosted by Research

Friday, September 27 at 12:00 PM
Des Moines University, Ryan Hall 181, Des Moines, IA, 50312 Show Map

Friday Research Seminar Series

This week’s Friday Research Seminar Series will be hosted by the Physiology and Pharmacology department. All faculty members and students are invited to attend.

Can a Rat Tell You She Has a Headache? There’s More to Pain than Molecular Signaling



Kenneth E. McCarson, Ph.D.

Co-Director, Biobehavioral Measurement Core (BMC), Director, R.L. Smith IDDRC Rodent Behavior Facility , Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (KIDDRC), Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics


Dr. McCarson has used rodent models of pain and behavioral measures in the study of the neurobiology of pain for well over two decades; as a postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington University these approaches were enhanced by acquiring the molecular tools used to expand my previous studies of the role of neurokinin receptors and tachykinin peptides, linking quantification of behavioral hyperalgesia (pain-related behaviors) with regulation of receptor gene expression in animal models of chronic inflammatory pain. As PI or co-Investigator on numerous university- and NIH-funded grants, I have expanded my studies into additional areas including cutaneous wound healing, GABAB receptor expression and function during pain, the molecular mechanisms underlying gender differences in chronic pain, hippocampal neurogenesis, hippocampal NK-1 receptor and BDNF expression and function, and the relationship between stress and chronic pain.


  1. Explain fundamental physiological mechanisms underlying pain sensation, including the spinal and supraspinal centers and systems that process pain and hyperalgesia.
  2. Describe plasticity of the neuronal systems and signals that contribute to sensitization to persistent pain.
  3. Explain sex differences in pain sensation, focusing on effects that estrogen can have to promote sensitization.
  4. Describe pain modeling in preclinical studies, focusing on rodent migraine modeling.


Des Moines University (DMU) prohibits discrimination in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference. The University also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to University facilities. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend DMU sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this activity, please contact the DMU Continuing Medical Education office at 515-271-1596 or cme@dmu.edu.