The neural development of pain processing

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Professor Maria Fitzgerald FMedSci, FRS
email: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 1303 (x 31303)

Fitzgerald Group Members

Dr Laura Jones;  Dr. Charlie Kwok;  Dr. Madeleine Verriotis; Ms Nynke van den Hoogen;  Ms Yajing Xu

Affiliated Members

Dr. Lorenzo Fabrizi & Ms. Kimberley Whitehead.  Dr. Suellen Walker & Dr. Orla Moriarty.  Dr. Simon Beggs 

UCL Collaborators

Dr. Judith Meek - UCLH Neonatology; Prof. Sofia Olhede - UCL Statistical Sciences; Dr John Ioannou - UCLH Rheumatology

Other Collaborators

Prof. Ru-Rong Ji - Anesthesiology, Duke University.  Dr. Stephanie Koch -  The Salk Institute for Biological Studies.


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The Fitzgerald lab at UCL is internationally recognised for pioneering work in the basic developmental neurobiology of pain and is a world leader in science of pain in infants and children.

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. She became a Professor of Developmental Neurobiology at UCL in 1995.

Maria was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2000 and was awarded the Jeffrey Lawson Award for Advocacy in Children's Pain Relief by the American Pain Society, in 2010.  She was elected to the Royal Society of Anaesthetists Faculty of Pain Medicine in 2013 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016.

Maria has been a member of numerous panels including the Medical Research Council Neurosciences and Mental Health Board, the UK Research Assessment Exercise (REF) and the Council of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Maria is also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate neuroscience at UCL and is final year Tutor for the BSc & MSci in Neuroscience.

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 (vi) the development of supraspinal and cortical pain processing
  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.

Key Publications

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