Prof. Dr. Rohini Kuner - Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prizewinner 2024

Prof. Dr. Rohini Kuner

Prof. Dr. Rohini Kuner

© DFG / David Ausserhofer

Neuropharmacology, Heidelberg University

Rohini Kuner receives the Leibniz Prize in recognition of her pioneering work on the mechanisms underlying chronic pain. Kuner turned her attention to the topic of pain research while doing her doctorate in the USA, and she continues to carry out research into the question of how to identify the causes of chronic pain and tackle them pharmacologically. Her contributions to the mechanisms of pain signalling and pain transmission to the central nervous system form an important foundation here. While the majority of pain research worldwide focuses on individual molecules, Kuner pursues more comprehensive systemic approaches, focussing in particular on neuroplasticity underlying chronic pain, i.e. the changeability of neuronal connections in the nervous system. Using experimental approaches such as neurogenetic and optogenetic techniques along with methods such as in vivo imaging and three-dimensional electron microscopy, she has been able to determine central neural pathways of pain transmission. Most recently, Kuner has focussed on the mechanisms involved in neuropathic pain that occurs after the severing of nerves, also known as “phantom pain”. 

Rohini Kuner studied pharmaceutical biotechnology at the University of Mumbai (India), obtaining her doctorate at the University of Iowa (USA) in 1994. She was then a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg up until 1998, before going on to work for BASF-Lynx (Axaron AG) in Heidelberg for two years. From 2002 she headed a DFG-funded Emmy Noether Group at the Institute of Pharmacy at the Heidelberg University, where she also gained her post-doctoral lecturing qualification in 2005. She became Professor of Pharmacy and Toxicology at the same university in 2006. Kuner has received a number of important research prizes, including an ERC Advanced Grant in 2011.   


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