Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research


Dr Liam Browne

Neural circuits for pain 

Tel: 020 7679 6695
Email: liam.browne@ucl.ac.uk 
Lab Email Address: brownelab@live.ucl.ac.uk
Website: http://www.brownelab.org
IRIS Profile:  https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=LBROW57

Our goal is to understand how the brain processes pain. Pain is a protective system that alerts us to potential damage. When this alarm system goes wrong, pain can become highly debilitating and a disease in itself. Chronic pain is a global health issue affecting 1 in 5 people and treatments are inadequate, representing a huge unmet clinical need. We aim to provide a mechanistic understanding of the neural  circuit computations that contribute to pain, and how they are altered in disease. This can inform targets for treatments for pain and provide core insights into the operation of the nervous system more broadly. 

We take a multidisciplinary approach at the interface between neuroscience, physiology, and engineering, using custom behavioural approaches, in vivo 2P microscopy, optogenetics, electrophysiology, and machine vision and machine learning. We have two areas of focus: (1) probing how pain is encoded and expressed by the cerebral cortex; (2) developing advanced tools for the study of behaviour, from reflexes to learning. These two areas of focus overlap allowing us to map the relationship between pain, emotion, motivation, learning and decision making in health and disease.

Academic Career

Academic Career

    • 2016 - present Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow - UCL
    • 2015 - 2016 Marie Curie Fellow (return phase) - UCL
    • 2013 - 2015 Marie Curie Fellow - Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital
    • 2009 - 2013 Postdoc with R. Alan North FRS - University of Manchester

      Michoud, F., Seehus, C., Schönle, P., Brun, N., Taub, D., Zhang, Z., . . . Lacour, S. P. (2021). Epineural optogenetic activation of nociceptors initiates and amplifies inflammationNature Biotechnology. doi:10.1038/s41587-020-0673-2

      Schorscher-Petcu, A., Takács, F., & Browne, L. E. (2021). Scanned optogenetic control of mammalian somatosensory input to map input-specific behavioral outputseLife, 62026. doi:10.7554/eLife.62026

      Talbot, S., Doyle, B., Huang, J., Wang, J. -. C., Ahmadi, M., Roberson, D. P., . . . Woolf, C. J. (2020). Vagal sensory neurons drive mucous cell metaplasiaJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2020.01.003

      Atkinson, B., Chudasama, V., & Browne, L. (2019). Controlling Engineered P2X Receptors with LightMethods in Molecular Biology. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-9717-6_22

      Michoud, F., Sottas, L., Browne, L. E., Asboth, L., Latremoliere, A., Sakuma, M., . . . Lacour, S. P. (2018). Optical cuff for optogenetic control of the peripheral nervous systemJ Neural Eng, 15 (1), 015002-?. doi:10.1088/1741-2552/aa9126

      Browne, L. E., Latremoliere, A., Lehnert, B. P., Grantham, A., Ward, C., Alexandre, C., . . . Woolf, C. J. (2017). Time-Resolved Fast Mammalian Behavior Reveals the Complexity of Protective Pain ResponsesCell Rep, 20 (1), 89-98. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2017.06.024

      Browne, L. E., & Woolf, C. J. (2014). Casting light on painNat Biotechnol, 32 (3), 240-241. doi:10.1038/nbt.2844

      Stelmashenko, O., Compan, V., Browne, L. E., & North, R. A. (2014). Ectodomain Movements of an ATP-gated Ion Channel (P2X2 Receptor) Probed by Disulfide LockingJournal of Biological Chemistry, 289 (14), 9909-9917. doi:10.1074/jbc.m113.542811

      Browne, L. E., Nunes, J. P. M., Sim, J. A., Chudasama, V., Bragg, L., Caddick, S., & North, R. A. (2014). Optical control of trimeric P2X receptors and acid-sensing ion channelsProc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 111 (1), 521-526. doi:10.1073/pnas.1318582111

      Browne, L. E., & North, R. A. (2013). P2X Receptor Intermediate Activation States Have Altered Nucleotide SelectivityJournal of Neuroscience, 33 (37), 14801-14808. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.2022-13.2013

      Browne, L. E., Compan, V., Bragg, L., & North, R. A. (2013). P2X7 Receptor Channels Allow Direct Permeation of Nanometer-Sized DyesJournal of Neuroscience, 33 (8), 3557-3566. doi:10.1523/jneurosci.2235-12.2013

      Browne, L. E. (2012). Structure of P2X receptorsWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Membrane Transport and Signaling, 1 (1), 56-69. doi:10.1002/wmts.24

      Browne, L. E., Cao, L., Broomhead, H. E., Bragg, L., Wilkinson, W. J., & North, R. A. (2011). P2X receptor channels show threefold symmetry in ionic charge selectivity and unitary conductanceNature Neuroscience, 14 (1), 17-18. doi:10.1038/nn.2705

      Bradley, H. J., Browne, L. E., Yang, W., & Jiang, L. (2011). Pharmacological properties of the rhesus macaque monkey P2X7 receptorBritish Journal of Pharmacology, 164 (2b), 743-754. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01399.x

      Browne, L. E., Jiang, L. -. H., & North, R. A. (2010). New structure enlivens interest in P2X receptorsTrends in Pharmacological Sciences, 31 (5), 229-237. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2010.02.004

      Browne, L. E., Clare, J. J., & Wray, D. (2009). Functional and pharmacological properties of human and rat NaV1.8 channelsNeuropharmacology, 56 (5), 905-914.

      Browne, L. E., Blaney, F. E., Yusaf, S. P., Clare, J. J., & Wray, D. (2009). Structural Determinants of Drugs Acting on the Nav1.8 ChannelJournal of Biological Chemistry, 284 (16), 10523-10536. doi:10.1074/jbc.m807569200

      Group Members
      • Elisa Clemente (PhD student)
      • Jonathan Seaman (MSc student Neuroscience)
      • Denis Duagi (MSci Student Neuroscience)