Dr. Cahill's research aims to understand the neurobiology of chronic pain and seeks novel ways to alleviate it. She also studies how chronic pain changes the brain, especially in areas known to be important for emotion, fear and motivation. A further emphasis of her research is on opioid addiciton, especially identifying suceptibilities and changes in the brain that are associated with occurrence of chronic pain.
Chronic pain is a disease that encompasses both sensory and emotional elements. Opioids are highly effective analgesics because they target both of these elements, by inhibiting pain pathways and alleviating negative affect (including depression) by engaging reward or hedonic pathways. Neuroinflammation is a common phenomenon associated with chronic pain and prolonged opioid use, which contributes to pain sensitization and negative affect (anxiety and depression). Similarly, the kappa opioid system is responsible for dysphoric states and is upregulated in chronic pain states and with prolonged opioid use. Dr. Cahill's research aims to understand how neuroinflammation and kappa systems contribute to negative affective states with the goal of improving pain treatment outcomes and substance use disorders. Her research uses behavioral neuroscience, imaging, anatomy and biochemistry to understand mechanisms of chronic pain and opioid misuse in chronic pain states.
Does this profile need updating? Contact Us