Pfizer Canada Announces Pain Research Award Recipients

Sixth Annual Awards Competition Dedicated to Independent Pain Research

KIRKLAND, QC, June 12, 2013 /CNW/ - Pfizer Canada is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2012 Pain Research Awards, an annual grant competition for independent research in the areas of basic biomedical, clinical and health services and systems.

"Pfizer Canada is proud to be supporting Canadian medical innovation through the Pain Research grant competition for the sixth consecutive year," says Lorella Garofalo, Director, Medical Affairs, Pfizer Canada. "Every step counts when it comes to improving the lives of patients and continued research in this area is a critical step forward to ensure Canadians have access to cutting-edge treatments that will have a positive impact on their everyday lives."

Pfizer Canada invests in pain research to improve the lives of Canadians - a commitment that the company proudly collaborates with innovative researchers across Canada to achieve.  The awards provide funding grants to outstanding research that has the potential to improve the quality of life for people living with pain. To date, the program has awarded almost $4 million dollars to independent researchers.

Fourteen research proposals for the 2012 Pain Research Awards were reviewed by an independent committee comprised of 11 Canadian medical researchers and chaired by Dr. A. John Clark, Professor of Anaesthesia at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"We commend Pfizer's continued support of independent research into pain and are confident that through the research proposals the awards program has supported over the past six years, we will be steps closer to better understanding pain and pain management," says Dr. Clark.

The 2012 competition award recipients will each receive funding in support of their independent pain research, including a $150,000 research grant. This year's winning research proposals will investigate:

  • The role glutamate, such as MSG in our diets, plays on triggering headaches;
  • Post-operative brain changes and impact on pain and affect;
  • An improved understanding of central nervous system changes as a result of pain.

The Pfizer Pain Research Awards aim to advance, through innovative research, knowledge of the biology and mechanisms of pain, its prevention, management and associated burden and apply findings towards improvement for Canadian sufferers. Pfizer is proud to support the innovators and ideas that make better health possible.

The company thanks all 2012 entrants for their commitment to pain research and congratulates Dr. Brian E. Cairns, Dr. Petra Schweinhardt and Dr. Patrick Stroman for their innovative and winning research proposals.

Recipients of the 2012 Pain Research Awards

Brian E Cairns, University of British Columbia
Subject: Influence of blood glutamate concentrations on headache mechanisms

Many Canadians suffer from severe migraine or tension-type headaches.  In some people, the food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a trigger for these headaches, however, how it triggers headaches is unknown.  Dr. Cairns will research whether glutamate can activate the nerve fibers that innervate the brain covering, or dura, and are responsible for headache pain and, whether natural elevation of glutamate levels is part of the mechanism that initiates headaches.  If glutamate does activate these nerve fibres, then novel treatments to prevent or decrease the risk of headache development could involve modification of dietary glutamate intake and/or development of selective drugs.

Petra Schweinhardt, McGill University
Subject: Longitudinal brain changes after surgery and their relationship with pain and affect

Cross-sectional research has shown that chronic pain patients present with brain changes, mostly decreased gray matter. Despite consistent results across studies, many questions remain unanswered, including the temporal relationship of such changes with regards to pain and symptom development, the histological nature of gray matter changes, and whether patients with neuropathic pain exhibit similar brain changes.

Through her research, Dr. Schweinhardt will address these questions by investigating patients undergoing thoracotomy with a longitudinal study design. The results are likely to advance interventions addressing cerebral underpinnings of post-operative pain sequelae.

Patrick Stroman, Queen's University
Subject: Temporal summation of pain in fibromyalgia investigated by means of fMRI of the entire human CNS

The goal of Dr. Stroman's research is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the entire central nervous system to investigate pain processing when central sensitization is induced, and how this processing is altered in fibromyalgia. The results of this study will help to establish highly sensitive methods for studying neuropathic pain in humans, and will improve our understanding of neurological changes as a result of fibromyalgia, at every level of the CNS.


Pfizer Canada Inc. is the Canadian operation of Pfizer Inc., one of the world's leading biopharmaceutical companies. The company is one of the largest contributors to health research in Canada.  Our diversified health care portfolio includes human and animal biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines, as well as many of the world's best-known consumer products.

Every day, Pfizer Canada employees work to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time.  We apply science and our global resources to improve the health and well being of Canadians at every stage of life.

Our commitment is reflected in everything Pfizer does, from our disease awareness initiatives to our community partnerships, to our belief that it takes more than medication to be truly healthy. To learn more about Pfizer's More than Medication philosophy and programs, visit  To learn more about Pfizer Canada, visit

SOURCE: Pfizer Canada Inc.

For further information:

Christina Antoniou
Pfizer Canada
1-866-9Pfizer (or 866-973-4937)

Jennifer Runza
beSPEAK Communications


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