Laura Stone

Title: 
Associate Professor
Laura Stone
Salutation: 
Dr
Contact Information
Phone: 
514-398-7203
514-398-4400 Ext 00039
Email address: 
laura.s.stone [at] mcgill.ca
Biography: 

The overall objective of Dr. Stone’s research program is to improve diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain by expanding our understanding of its neurochemistry and neuropathology.
Dr. Stone received her PhD at the University of Minnesota in 1999. As a post-doctoral trainee at the Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU), she was the first recipient of the John J. Bonica Post-Doctoral Training Fellowship from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). Following a brief interlude in biotechnology, she returned to academia in 2002. Since that time she has received two NIH R21 grants and a CIHR operating grant as Principal Investigator. Dr. Stone is an inventor on 7 patents, has co-authored over 20 manuscripts and has been recognized for Early Career Scholarship by the American Pain Society (John C. Liebeskind Early Career Scholar Award 2006). Dr. Stone joined the Faculty of Dentistry at McGill University in Jan 2007.

Current Projects

Analgesic Pharmacology

Many analgesic drugs such as those acting at opioid- or alpha-2-adrenergic receptors interact in a synergistic manner when co-administered in humans or in animal models. This is a important clinically as co-administration of synergistically interacting agents can help maximize analgesia while minimizing adverse side effects. A major goal of my research is to elucidate the underlying mechanism(s) analgesic drug interactions using a multidisciplinary approach that includes behavioral, biochemical, anatomical. electrophysiological and genetic methods. We are currently investigating the hypothesis that the formation of hetero-oligomeric receptor complexes represents a molecular mechanism underlying synergy.

Chronic Back Pain

Persistent back pain is the most common chronic pain condition in Canadians age 65 and under. Unfortunately, the vast majority of individuals suffer for years with little relief. This is due, in part, to a lack of understanding of the underlying causes of back pain. In order to enhance our understanding, we have developed and are currently validating a rodent model of back pain due to degeneration of the spine. Such a model will allow for the identification and testing of novel therapeutic interventions for the alleviation of chronic back pain.

Chronic pain is associated with reduced grey matter and altered activation patterns in certain regions of the brain. The full consequences of these changes are not clear, nor is not known if they can be reversed or attenuated by successful pain management. In collaboration with Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. David Seminowicz, Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Jean Ouellet and Pain Management Specialist Dr. Yoram Shir, we are performing a longitudinal study using functional and anatomical magnetic resonance imaging in chronic low back pain patients to determine if successful management by either surgical intervention or spinal injection(s) can reverse or attenuate these changes. We will also determine if the degree of cortical degeneration is linked to a decreased probability that a patient will benefit from treatment. If that is the case, then it will become critical to treat chronic pain early and aggressively in order to prevent grey matter loss.

In collaboration with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, we have developed a research program to characterize the biochemical and anatomical changes that accompany chronic low back pain. We are currently focused on low back pain patients who are scheduled for spinal surgery to remove degenerated lumbar discs for therapeutic reasons. Following documentation pain severity and physical impairment, samples of cerebral spinal fluid obtained from these patients are compared with normal controls for pain-related biomarkers using cutting edge proteomics methods (i.e. LC-MS/MS). In addition, anatomical studies are being performed on lumbar discs (removed as part of surgical treatment) to determine if altered disc biochemistry or innervation patterns contribute to chronic low back pain.

Area of expertise: 
  • Chronic pain
  • Low back pain
  • Behavioral pharmacology
Research areas: 
Pain and Neuroscience
Selected publications: 

Please see Dr. Stone's Google Scholar profile for a complete list of publications