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Research Lab – Department of Clinical Sciences 

Comparative Pain Research

Contact us:    919.513.6854   | or    919.513.6680

The comparative pain research team’s mission is to improve the ability to manage pain in non-human species by:

  • Measurement of acute and chronic pain
  • Study of the neurobiological signature of pain in chronic disease
  • Evaluation of novel therapeutics for pain relief
  • Collaborative work to build on translational models of chronic pain

Striped with white a cat. Striped small cat.

The laboratory is part of integrated pain management programs at NC State Veterinary Medicine.

Ongoing Research

Dr. B. Duncan X. Lascelles and research technician, Ms. Andrea Thomson

A note from Dr. Lascelles: “Sincere thanks to all I’ve worked with to understand and control pain in cats!! Let’s keep going!”  Read full article.

  • Chronic musculoskeletal pain in cats

Thank you to our friends at VetPetz for helping us develop this educational video.

Our laboratory continues to work on understanding the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in cats, the radiographical features, and the etiology of the disease. We are developing valid subjective assessment tools for the assessment of chronic musculoskeletal pain in cats. We also have studies developing objective, non-invasive means of measuring mobility impairment in cats with chronic musculoskeletal pain. We use these tools to evaluate drug and non-drug treatments for musculoskeletal pain in cats. Other collaborative genomic and proteomic work involves elucidating the neurobiology of chronic pain in cats.

  • Canine osteoarthritis: a model of human osteoarthritis pain
    Canine osteoarthritis is very similar to human osteoarthritis in many respects. We study naturally occurring canine osteoarthritis as a model of the human condition, and also so that our work is directly and immediately relevant to canine clinical pain. We are evaluating aspects of the neurobiology of pain in naturally occurring canine osteoarthritis, as a way of understanding how to better target treatments. Our laboratory uses a variety of validated subjective and objective outcome measures to assess putative analgesic drugs that may be developed for use. We also use these outcome measures to assess and refine current treatments for canine osteoarthritis pain.
  • Gastrointestinal tract defense, the role of cyclooxygenase and the effects of combination analgesic regimens on this
    We are interested in learning more about the effects of analgesics on gut mucosal health in dogs. These laboratory studies help answer some fundamental and important clinical questions that will help develop safer regimens for analgesic use in dogs. These studies will also help elucidate some of the mechanisms underlying the gastrointestinal adverse effects of drugs and drug combinations in humans. Collaboration with the Gastrointestinal Physiology Lab at NCSU
  • Early response of cartilage to trauma
    The end result of trauma to joints is osteoarthritis, and this is associated with pain. Understanding the early changes in cartilage in response to trauma may help us prevent or limit cartilage degradation, which leads to progressive joint disease. Collaborative work with the Poultry Genomic Laboratory and Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at NCSU uses an ex vivo model of cartilage trauma to understand the early genetic changes involved.
  • Evaluation of activity in dogs with osteoarthritis

Clinical Metrology Instruments

One goal of the Comparative Pain Research Laboratory is to produce valid clinical metrology instruments for the assessment of pain, physical function and quality of life.  These tools are targeted at measuring one or more of the impacts of pain:

  • Pain (adverse sensory and emotional experience)
  • Mobility (the quality of moving freely)
  • Activity (the ability to perform specific activities)
  • Affective Effects (mood, feelings)


Peer-reviewed Research Publications

View Our Publications

The important work that has been performed in this laboratory has been made possible by generous donations and research grants awarded. These donations and grants allow us to continue our work improve veterinarians’ ability to alleviate pain in animals, and to use this knowledge in human translational research to assist in the alleviation of pain in humans.

You can support the work of the Comparative Pain Research Laboratory with a tax-deductible donation (please indicate the name of the lab in your gift).

Support Pain Research 

Current Sponsors

We are very grateful to our current supporters and sponsors for helping us improve the alleviation of pain in dogs and cats:

  • American College of Veterinary Surgeons Foundation for the evaluation of a novel method to repair feline pelvic fractures
  • Boehringher Ingelheim (competitive grant) to study pain relief in refractory canine osteoarthritis.
  • Boehringer Ingelheim to study safer dosing regimens for NSAIDs in dogs.
  • Centrexion
  • Elanco
  • Jane T. Gaede
  • Mary Jo Pringle
  • Mike and Leigh Ann Gallucci 
  • Morris Animal Foundation (competitive grant) to study the clinical measurement of post-operative pain.
  • Morris Animal Foundation to develop a valid chronic pain assessment systems in cats.
  • NexVet
  • Pharmalink International Limited
  • Tina Angelichio
  • Winn Feline Foundation
  • Virbac

Principal Investigators

Comparative Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Derek Adrian, DVM

Clinical Sciences

Laura Marie Minnema

Clinical Sciences

Morika Williams

Clinical Sciences

Staff and Associates

Andrea E Thomson

Clinical Sciences

Research Assistants

Beatriz Belda

Clinical Sciences