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Université de Bordeaux

Timetable & learning outcomes

Chronic pain is a major health problem in developed Western societies, affecting up to 30% of the general population (Cohen et al., 2021, Lancet). In contrast to the physiological role of acute pain, which is crucial for survival, chronic pain is considered a disease with treatment and psychological implications. Chronic pain can be categorised into 7 different subgroups according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) task force. Among these categories, chronic neuropathic pain is one of the most frequent and debilitating, representing up to 8% of the general population and 25% of chronic pain patients.

Neuropathic pain, defined by the IASP as "pain arising as a direct consequence of a lesion or disease affecting the somatosensory system”, affects both the central and peripheral nervous systems. It can result from spinal cord injury, post-stroke central lesions, post-surgical or post-traumatic events, etc. Despite being an active and productive clinical research field for the last 20 years, the management of patients remains limited, and few medications are currently effective. For instance, the first-line treatments for neuropathic pain are anticonvulsant drugs (gabapentin and pregabalin) and antidepressants targeting the noradrenergic system (duloxetine). The best efficacy of these molecules is a 50% decrease in pain sensation in 1 patient out of 3, leaving a significant number of patients without improvement in their condition, resulting in therapeutic challenges and a substantial psychological burden, causing significant societal and economic costs.

Pain is a multidimensional sensation resulting from the stimulation of the nociceptive system associated with the environment and modulated by individual experiences. The brain areas involved in the complex pain sensation are gathered in the "pain matrix”," superimposed with brain areas encoding other sensations and emotions. This is one reason why chronic pain often comes with emotional disorders acting as comorbidities and worsening pain sensations.

It is therefore crucial to study all the networks involved in pain sensation in physiological conditions and their plasticity in pathological pain to understand their interactions and develop tomorrow's treatments. This approach requires a high level of cutting-edge technologies, including:

  • molecular biology to specifically target and manipulate brain neuronal populations;

  • high-performance and less invasive electrophysiology tools to record from different brain areas simultaneously;

  • a new pipeline for data storage and analysis;

  • and obviously skilled researchers who will perform, analyse, interpret, and propose new solutions for a better tomorrow in the field of pain.

The objective of this summer school is to bring together highly renowned scientists working on pain pathology, experienced mentors that will train students during workshops, and the Bordeaux School of Neuroscience, which will offer specific training courses.

Over the course of 5 days, this intensive programme will provide students with advanced courses in neural circuits of pain, workshops to study cutting-edge techniques in detail as well as a day dedicated to training courses during which students will be able to choose specific techniques that they may implement in their laboratory after the summer school.

Tentative programme

Local and international experts from academia will lead a series of lectures covering one major topic on pain circuits: from periphery to central circuits with one session (1) focusing on circuit and development and a second session (2) on modulation of pain circuits . These will be followed by roundtables, workshops and training courses. A poster session will also be organised for selected students to present their own work and chat with invited speakers and school organisers.

Students, speakers, and instructors will also be invited to several dinners and social activities, allowing them to bond over meaningful conversations and quality time.

Please note: the schedule is presented in Central European Summer Time (CEST).

June 10th

June 11th

June 12th

July 14th

July 15th

08.30 – 13.00

Lecture 1
From the periphery to the central circuits 1:
Pain circuits and development

Speaker TBC

09.00 – 12.00

Lecture 2
From the periphery to the central circuits 2:
Modulation of pain circuits

Speaker TBC

09.00 - 12.00

Technical talks
Imaging pain circuits

09.00 – 12.00

Technical talks
Modern tools to manipulate pain circuits

09.00 - 12.00

Data analysis and preparation of presentations

13.00 – 14.00


12.00 – 14.00


12.00 – 14.00 


12.00 – 14.00 


12.00 – 14.00 


14.00 – 16.00

Poster session

14.00 – 17.00 

Training course

14.00 – 17.00 

Training course

14.00 – 17.00 

Training course

14.00 – 18.00

Social time/Student presentations
16.00 – 18.00


Consortium dinner

School dinner

Farewell dinner

Module descriptions

1) Spinal Electrophysiology in freely moving rodent.

Surgery, recordings, analysis

2) Evaluating pain and comorbidities in animal models

Behavioural paradigm to assess pain components and emotional status.

3) Nociception and optogenetic control in invertebrates.

Evaluation of nociception, experimental paradigms, optogenetic control in drosophila larva.

4) Calcium imaging of peripheral and central nervous system.

2-photon imaging of DRG or spinal cord and responses to sensory inputs.

5) Anatomical reconstruction of complex neural circuits.

Marquage de projections/trans-synaptique/etc. – light-sheet microscopy.

6) Single unit and optogenetic recordings in anesthetized animals.

Use of a all-in-one optoelectrode to record specific brain regions.

7) Genetic tool to identify specific activation of discrete neuronal population.

A certificate of participation will be awarded to students upon completion of the course.

Programme may be subject to change.