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Full NameProfessor David Finn

Department:Pharmacology and Therapeutics; Galway Neuroscience Centre and Centre for Pain Research

Organisation:National University of Ireland Galway

Email Address:Email hidden; Javascript is required.

Research Fields
  • physiology and non-communicable disease
  • neuroscience and mental health
  • bioengineering/medical devices
  • Other
Other Research Fields:

pain, stress, anxiety, depression, cognition, neurobiology, anesthesiology, inflammation, cannabinoids, opioids

Postgrad Medical Specialties
  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Psychiatry
  • Anaesthetics
  • Emergency Medicine
  • General Practice
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Occupational Medicine
  • Sports and Exercise Medicine
Medical Subspecialties
  • Adolescent medicine
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Endocrinology
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuropsychiatry
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Psychiatry
  • Rheumatology
My Work

Pain is the most common reason people see their doctor, with 20-30% of the population suffering from chronic pain. The overall objective of research in Professor Finn's laboratory is to increase understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the development and treatment of pain (acute and chronic), affective disorders (anxiety and depression), impaired cognition and their interaction/co-morbidity. The work is focused on a number of different endogenous signalling systems as potential therapeutic targets for these key unmet clinical needs (endocannabinoid, endovanilloid, opioid, monoaminergic).

An integrative, whole systems neuroscience approach is employed, combining preclinical and clinical behavioural studies with in vivo and ex vivo investigation of neurotransmitters, lipids (e.g. endocannabinoids), proteins or genes (e.g. cytokines, receptors, enzymes, signal transduction molecules, immediate early genes and transcription factors) throughout the nervous system. The laboratory places an emphasis on a translational, bench-to-bedside approach, with studies in both rodents and humans. This research, which is funded from a number of competitive sources, aims to make a significant contribution to the knowledge-base on chronic pain, stress-related psychiatric disorders and their interaction, and support the development of novel therapeutic agents for their treatment.

For publications list see:

Potential Projects

Project 1 Title: Novel mechanisms and biomarkers in postoperative pain

Project 1 Supervisors: Prof. David P. Finn (Primary Supervisor), Dr. Michael Scully (Anaesthesia), Prof. Brian McGuire (Psychology), Prof. John Morrison (Obstetrics and Gynaecology), Dr. Michelle Roche (Physiology)

Project 1 description: Acute postoperative pain remains a significant healthcare issue. Caesarian section (C-section) and inguinal hernia repair represent two of the most common surgical procedures but can be associated with clinically significant postoperative pain despite administration of opioid and non-opioid analgesics. The overarching aim of the project is to investigate the role of the endogenous cannabinoid (endocannabinoid), opioid and cytokine systems in postoperative pain following C-section and inguinal hernia repair and their potential utility as biomarkers. Psychological factors including anxiety and depression will also be studied as potential contributors to the development of postoperative pain and their linkages with the endogenous cannabinoid, opioid and cytokine systems will be explored.

Project 2 Title: Modulation of pain by negative affect: sites and mechanisms of action

Project 2 Supervisors: Prof. David P. Finn (Primary Supervisor), Dr. Michelle Roche (Physiology), Dr. Michael Scully (Anaesthesia), Prof. Brian McGuire (Psychology), Dr. Therese O'Connor (Pain Medicine Consultant), Dr. David O'Gorman (Pain Medicine Consultant)

Project 2 description: Pain is the most common reason people seek medical help and it has an immense negative impact on health, society and our economy. Negative affective state (stress/anxiety/depression) exacerbates pain and complicates its treatment but the underlying biological mechanisms are unclear. We will investigate the role of the brain's marijuana-like chemicals, so-called endocannabinoids, in modulation of pain by negative affective state. The specific brain regions and chemical messengers involved will be elucidated. A translational approach employing rodent and/or human studies will be used. The results will increase understanding of how the body controls pain and aid identification of new drug targets for the treatment of chronic pain, and its co-morbidity with anxiety/depression.

Successful candidates for either project will join a vibrant group of researchers in NUI Galway's Neuroscience Centre ( and Centre for Pain Research (