Dr. Peter Grace is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Critical Care Research, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. His research aims to understand the neuroinflammatory mechanisms that drive chronic pain, in order to identify new treatment strategies.
Dr. Grace obtained his B. HlthSc (Hons) and PhD degrees from the University of Adelaide Australia. He undertook doctoral training in Medicine, in the labs of Profs Paul Rolan and Mark Hutchinson, focusing on the role of peripheral immune cells in neuropathic pain. He was then an NHMRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder in the lab of Prof Linda Watkins, where he investigated the neuroimmune mechanisms responsible for the transition from acute to chronic pain.
Dr. Grace has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, and his writing has appeared on scholarly sites (Science, The Conversation). His work has also been featured in the scientific and popular press, and in television, podcast and radio programs. Dr. Grace has received funding from the Department of Defense and the American Pain Society.
Dr. Michael Lacagnina received his BS in Psychology from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University, where he worked in the laboratories of Dr. Ron Hammer and Dr. Ella Nikulina investigating neural circuit adaptations involved in drug addiction. He attended graduate school at Duke University and received his PhD in Psychology & Neuroscience under the mentorship of Dr. Staci Bilbo. His doctoral research examined neuroimmune and developmental mechanisms responsible for opioid drug reinforcement.
In the Grace lab, he intends to study neuroinflammatory mechanisms in the spinal cord and its related circuitries in order to characterize and manipulate specific cellular and molecular targets involved in the manifestation of chronic pain. He hopes to delineate the contribution of neural-glial interactions in the pathophysiology of opioid-induced hyperalgesia and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, in hopes of developing novel therapies for managing pain.
Dr. Jiahe Li received her BS and PhD degrees in Veterinary Medicine from China Agricultural University. She took training in Dr. Wenxue Wu’s lab during her doctoral project focusing on the rapid detection and mechanism of Mycoplasma bovis. Then she worked as a postdoc in the lab of Dr. Xiuping Yu at LSU Health Sciences Center, doing research on inhibitors for castration-resistant prostate cancer.
Jiahe Li is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Grace, in the Department of Critical Care Research, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her project focuses on the behavioral, immunological/neuroimmunological, and functional effects of voluntary wheel running, nerve injury, and their interaction after nerve injury. Her goal is to reduce the risk of developing chronic pain by pharmacologically exploiting the neuroprotective mechanisms of exercise.
Tim Fabisiak earned his B. A. in Neuroscience (Honors) and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, while researching the neuroinflammatory effects of cocaine and methamphetamine. He defended an honors thesis on this work in the Maier/Watkins lab while funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He then continued to work in the Maier/Watkins lab as a Professional Research Assistant at CU Boulder, where he aided Dr. Peter Grace in researching the role of morphine and exercise in the initiation and maintenance of chronic pain.
Tim is currently a Research Assistant II in the Department of Critical Care Research, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. His present work involves getting the Grace lab up and running, as well as conducting research to further investigate the underlying mechanisms of chronic pain aimed at identifying new targets and strategies of pain management.