The neural development of pain processing

Professor Maria Fitzgerald, BA, PhD, FMedSci
Professor of Developmental Neurobiology
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 1303 (x31303)
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7383 0929

Lab Members

Maria Fitzgerald Lab 2012

and colleagues

  • Dr Suellen Walker, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, ICH and GOSH (
  • Dr Rebeccah Slater, Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellow, UCL and Oxford (

Maria Fitzgerald graduated in Physiological Sciences at Oxford University and studied for a PhD in Physiology at UCL. She was awarded a postdoctoral MRC training fellowship to work with Professor Patrick Wall in the Cerebral Functions Group at UCL and remained in that group as a postdoctoral fellow until starting her own research group in the Anatomy & Developmental Biology Dept at UCL. She became a Professor of Developmental Neurobiology in 1995 and was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2000. Maria is Scientific Director of the Paediatric Pain Research Centre at UCL, and is a member of a number of research boards including the Medical Research Council Neurosciences and Mental Health Board, the Scientific Board of the Migraine Trust and the French National Research Agency (ANR). She is an Editorial Board member of ‘Pain’ and of ‘Pain Research and Clinical Management. Maria has published over 130 research papers and reviews in the area of pain neurobiology.

Research Interests

  1. The neurobiological processes which underlie the development of pain pathways (i) the maturation of central excitatory and inhibitory synaptic responses in postnatal dorsal horn and brain stem (ii) the development of central processes underlying hyperalgesia and allodynia (iii) mechanisms underlying analgesic action in immature pain pathways (iv) central plasticity underlying nerve damage and neuropathic pain in infancy (v) the structural and functional effects of acute and persistent pain and injury upon the developing spinal cord
  2. The developmental neurophysiology of pain in infants and children (i) Cortical, brainstem and spinal pain processing in preterm infants (ii) Postoperative hyperalgesia and allodynia in human infants (iii) The efficacy of analgesics in human infants (iv) The long term consequences of infant pain and injury on sensory processing.