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Experimental Pain Research

We focus on the investigation of mechanisms leading to chronic pain. Chronic sensitization of the neurons involved in pain processing might play a pivotal role.

Our studies target those mechanisms assumed to have the most prominent impact on chronic pain in patients. In order to ensure clinical relevance, our experimental protocols are focused upon direct application to pain patients.

To achieve this, two obstacles need to be overcome:

  • understanding the difference between species and differences between healthy volunteers and chronic pain patients
  • understanding differential reaction patterns of single cells, tissues and processing in the central nervous system

Since our primary interest is the optimal transfer of experimental results to the clinic, we are selecting and adapting techniques that can be applied in small and large animals and equally well in human subjects, both healthy volunteers and pain patients. We are also combining research at the single cell and tissue level to examine processing mechanisms up to the central nervous system. This approach is called “translational” pain research. 

Our core values for a successful translational pain research unit are:

  • continuous review of research concepts to ensure focus on clinical relevance
  • honesty concerning the limitations and shortcomings of our approaches
  • honesty regarding the implications of our basic research for the individual benefit of patients
  • open communication and collaborative efforts with clinicians, basic researchers and industry


The Karl Feuerstein foundation professorship was endowed by the Daimler fund in memory of Karl Feuerstein, Chair of the Daimler Benz general works council from 1989 to 1999. The Feuerstein Chair was appointed inaugurally to Prof. Martin Schmelz on 15 November, 2002.