Gregory Scherrer (Award in Pain Recipient) earned his Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Strasbourg, France. He completed postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco, and at Columbia University. He joined the faculty at the Stanford University School of Medicine in 2012. In addition to a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar award, he has received an International Association for the Study of Pain Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse K99R00 Pathway to Independence and R01 Awards, a Department of Defense Neurosensory Research Award, and an International Narcotics Research Conference Young Investigator Award, and most recently was named a New York Stem Cell Foundation – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator.
The members of the Scherrer Laboratory investigate how the nervous system generates the sensory and affective dimensions of pain experience and opioid analgesia to discover novel analgesic therapies. They aim to identify the pathological changes that occur within neural circuits when chronic pain develops, at the neural network, cellular and molecular levels. One of their approaches is to gain understanding of how our endogenous opioid system modulates pain thresholds. Opioid receptors mediate the effects of opioid painkillers, such as morphine. By determining how opioids generate analgesia and detrimental side effects (e.g., tolerance, addiction, respiratory depression), Scherrer and his team hope to develop more efficient and safer analgesics for the treatment of chronic pain. These studies will also identify novel approaches to counteract opioid side effects and battle the current opioid epidemic. To reach these goals, Scherrer’s research combines a variety of experimental approaches, including molecular and cellular biology, neuroanatomy, electrophysiology, opto- and pharmacogenetics, in vivo calcium imaging and behavior.