Pathways to pain: how to cure, not cause!

Pathways to pain: how to cure, not cause!

Pathways to pain: how to cure, not cause!

event Saturday, September 28, 2024 schedule 10.00am - 11.00am BST
event Saturday, September 28, 2024 schedule 10.00am - 11.00am BST
  • Image of human in pain
  • Cartoon of surgeons in an amputation
In-person at Sidgwick | £15
Open to: 
Alumni and guests
Sidgwick Site | View details

Almost everyone is familiar with the unpleasant sensation of pain, but why does pain exist and how does it work? Perhaps more importantly, what happens in conditions associated with chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis? Although numerous painkillers are available, they often fail to work, or produce side effects so extreme that an individual would rather live with the pain. It is therefore essential to better understand how pain works to develop more effective treatments. Learn more on the science of pain in this talk with pharmacologist Professor Ewan St. John Smith. 


Professor Ewan St. John Smith (Corpus Christi 2003)

Photograph of Ewan St. John Smith

Ewan obtained a degree in pharmacology (Bath) followed by a PhD (Cambridge) working on how acid causes pain. He then moved to the Max-Delbrück Centre in Berlin as an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow to investigate the pain peculiarities of the naked mole-rat, followed by a 1-year stint at NYU School of Medicine as a Max Kade Foundation Fellow examining CO2-sensing in worms. In 2013 he joined the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge where his research group focuses on understanding the molecular basis of pain using mice, naked mole-rats, and humans as model systems, as well as investigating the cancer resistance and healthy ageing of naked mole-rats. From a pain perspective, his lab largely focuses on visceral pain and joint pain, working closely with clinicians to try and bridge the gap from bench to bedside. Ewan also holds a variety of leadership positions within the University including being Deputy Head of Department and Co-Director of the Cambridge Neuroscience Interdisciplinary Research Centre. In addition, Ewan is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College where he is Director of Studies in Biological Natural Sciences and Pre-Clinical Medicine, a Tutor, Custodian of the Corpus Chronophage Clock and LGBTQ+ Champion. 

Reading list

Ai, M., Hotham, W.E., Pattison, L.A., Ma, Q., Henson, F.M.D and Smith, E.S. (2023). Role of human mesenchymal stem cells and derived extracellular vesicles in reducing sensory neuron hyperexcitability and pain behaviors in murine osteoarthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatology, 75, 352-363.   

Walters, E.T., Crook, R.J., Neely, G.G., Price, T.J. and Smith, E.S. (2023) Persistent nociceptor hyperactivity as a painful evolutionary adaptation. Trends Neurosci, 46, 211-227.  

Lee, M., Nahorski, M., Hockley, J.R.F., Lu, V., Ison, G., Pattison, L.A., Callejo, G., Stouffer, K., Fletcher, E., Drissi, I., Wheeler, D., Ernfors, P., Menon, D., Reimann, F., Smith, E.S. and Woods, C.G. (2020). Human labour pain is influenced by the voltage-gated potassium channel KV6.4 subunit. Cell Reports, 32, 107941

Booking information

In-person lectures at the Sidgwick Site as part of Alumni Festival cost £15 per person.



Sidgwick Site
West Road
United Kingdom


Alumni Festival Team