Dr Ruth Drdla-Schutting Medical University of Vienna – The European Neuroscience Institute - Medical University of Vienna



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About Dr Ruth Drdla-Schutting

My general research interests are in the spinal cord mechanisms underlying chronic pain. My current work explores the action of opioids on synaptic plasticity at synapses in the superficial layers of the spinal cord dorsal horn. The synapses in the superficial laminae of the spinal cord dorsal horn play a prominent role in the transmission of nociceptive information from the periphery to the brain. At these synapses, synaptic  strength can be modified in the development of chronic pain. Several plastic changes can occur at these synapses, resulting in an altered response to both noxious and innocuous stimuli. One mechanism of synaptic plasticity thought to underlie the development of enhanced pain sensitivity is  synaptic long-term potentiation (LTP). 

My research activity has been devoted to study the cellular mechanisms of induction and reversal of synaptic LTP at C-fiber synapses in the spinal cord dorsal horn. In particular, I have been investigating the effect of opioids on these processes using electrophysiological techniques as well as behavioral testing, western blotting and imaging techniques. During my studies I could identify novel effects of opioids such as opioid-withdrawal LTP as well as opioid-induced depotentiation of established forms of LTP at spinal C-fiber synapses. The transition of this knowledge into clinical applications might greatly improve the use of opioids for more targeted treatment of various causes of pain.

For further information, please also see: http://cbr.meduniwien.ac.at/people/persons-details/id/18

Awards, Fellowships and Honours

2013          Sanofi-Aventis Prize

2013          1st Pain Prize, Austrian Pain Society

2011          Sertürner Prize, Sertürner Society Einbeck

2011          1st Pain Prize, Austrian Pain Society

2010          Award of Honour, German Pain Prize, German Society for Pain Therapy

2009          2nd Pain Prize, Austrian Pain Society

2006          1st Pain Prize, German IASP