Luda Diatchenko

Title: 
Professor
Academic title(s): 

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Human Pain Genetics
Pfizer Canada Professor in Pain Research

Luda Diatchenko
Salutation: 
Dr
Contact Information
Phone: 
514-398-2878
Email address: 
luda.diatchenko [at] mcgill.ca
Biography: 

Dr. Diatchenko holds a joint appointment in the Department of Anesthesia, which you can read about here. You can also visit her lab website at http://hpgl.ca for more information.

Luda Diatchenko, MD, PhD is a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Human Pain Genetics, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Anesthesia, and Faculty of Dentistry,  at McGill University, Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain. She earned her MD and PhD in the field of Molecular Biology from the Russian State Medical University (formerly RGMU). Dr. Diatchenko started her career in industry, she was a Leader of the RNA Expression Group at Clontech, Inc., and subsequently, Director of Gene Discovery at Attagene, Inc. During this time, Dr. Diatchenko was actively involved in the development of several widely-used and widely-cited molecular tools for the analysis of gene expression and regulation. Dr. Diatchenko’s academic career started at 2000 in the Center for Neurosensory Disorders at the University of North Carolina. Her research since then is focused on determining the cellular and molecular biological mechanisms by which functional genetic variations impact human pain perception and risk of development of chronic pain conditions, enabling new approaches to identify new drug targets, treatment responses to analgesics, and diagnostic. Dr. Diatchenko is a frequent speaker at national and international pain research conferences. Multiple collaborative activities allow the Diatchenko group to take basic genetic findings all the way from human association studies, through molecular and cellular mechanisms, to animal models, and ultimately to human clinical trials.  In total, Dr. Diatchenko have authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed research papers (plus 10 book chapters) in journals with 2011 Thomson ISI Impact Factors up to 34.8, from which 34 (44%) of refereed articles in journals having an Impact Factor >5.0. She is a member and an active officer of several national and international scientific societies, including the International Association for the Study of Pain, the American Pain Society, and the American Society of Human Genetics.        

Persistent pain is a part of many common human clinical conditions, yet the current ability to diagnose and manage these conditions is inadequate. Pain perception is one of the most complicated measurable traits, as it is composed of an aggregate of several other measurable phenotypes associated with peripheral and central nervous system dynamics, stress responsiveness, and inflammatory state. It is generally accepted that complex traits, like pain perception, result from the interplay between environmental exposures and multiple genetic variants. However, little is known about the nature of these genetic variants. Because of the established roles of environmental exposures and the commonly held view that pain perception is an unquantifiable “subjective” experience, a genetic basis for pain perception has long been questioned. Recent and rapidly developing discoveries in the field of pain genetics have provided evidence for a substantial role for genetic background on pain perception and clinical pain phenotypes. These findings provide unique opportunities to identify new genetic variants that contribute to pain phenotypes.

The Diatchenko lab investigates the psychological, molecular, cellular, and genetic pathways that mediate both acute and persistent pain states.  Their primary goal is to identify the critical elements of human genetic variability contributing to pain sensitivity and pathophysiological pain states that will enable individualized treatments and therapies. Other related research endeavors include molecular hierarchy of functional SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms) and SNP-depend regulation of gene expression, underlying molecular pain signaling.  Answering these questions requires collaboration with experts in both clinical and basic biological sciences.  Such collaborative activities allow the Diatchenko group to take basic genetic findings all the way from human association studies, through molecular and cellular mechanisms, to animal models, and ultimately to human clinical trials.

Area of expertise: 
  • Pain Genetics
  • Human Molecular Genetics
  • Chronic Pain Conditions
Research areas: 
Pain and Neuroscience
Selected publications: 

Khoury S, Piltonen MH, Ton AT, Cole T, Samoshkin A, Smith SB, Belfer I, Slade GD, Fillingim RB, Greenspan JD, Ohrbach R, Maixner W, Neely GG, Serohijos AWR, Diatchenko L. A functional substitution in the L-aromatic amino acid decarboxylase enzyme worsens somatic symptoms via a serotonergic pathway. Ann Neurol. 2019 Aug;86(2):168-180. 

Parisien M, Samoshkin A, Tansley SN, Piltonen MH, Martin LJ, El-Hachem N, Dagostino C, Allegri M, Mogil JS, Khoutorsky A, Diatchenko L.Genetic pathway analysis reveals a major role for extracellular matrix organization in inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Pain. 2019 Apr;160(4):932-944

Smith SB, Parisien M, Bair E, Belfer I, Chabot-Doré AJ, Gris P, Khoury S, Tansley S, Torosyan Y, Zaykin DV, Bernhardt O, de Oliveira Serrano P, Gracely RH, Jain D, Järvelin MR, Kaste LM, Kerr KF, Kocher T, Lähdesmäki R, Laniado N, Laurie CC, Laurie CA, Männikkö M, Meloto CB, Nackley AG, Nelson SC, Pesonen P, Ribeiro-Dasilva MC, Rizzatti-Barbosa CM, Sanders AE, Schwahn C, Sipilä K, Sofer T, Teumer A, Mogil JS, Fillingim RB, Greenspan JD, Ohrbach R, Slade GD, Maixner W, Diatchenko L. Genome-wide association reveals contribution of MRAS to painful temporomandibular disorder in males. Pain. 2019 Mar;160(3):579-591. 

Meloto CB, Benavides R, Lichtenwalter RN, Wen X, Tugarinov N, Zorina-Lichtenwalter K, Chabot-Doré AJ, Piltonen MH, Cattaneo S, Verma V, Klares R 3rd, Khoury S, Parisien M, Diatchenko L. Human pain genetics database: a resource dedicated to human pain genetics research. Pain. 2018 Apr;159(4):749-763.

Martin LJ, Smith SB, Khoutorsky A, Magnussen CA, Samoshkin A, Sorge RE, Cho C, Yosefpour N, Sivaselvachandran S, Tohyama S, Cole T, Khuong TM, Mir E, Gibson DG, Wieskopf JS, Sotocinal SG, Austin JS, Meloto CB, Gitt JH, Gkogkas C, Sonenberg N, Greenspan JD, Fillingim RB, Ohrbach R, Slade GD, Knott C, Dubner R, Nackley AG, Ribeiro-da-Silva A, Neely GG, Maixner W, Zaykin DV, Mogil JS, Diatchenko L. Epiregulin and EGFR interactions are involved in pain processing. J Clin Invest. 2017 Sep 1;127(9):3353-3366. 

Parisien M, Khoury S, Chabot-Doré AJ, Sotocinal SG, Slade GD, Smith SB, Fillingim RB, Ohrbach R, Greenspan JD, Maixner W, Mogil JS, Belfer I, Diatchenko L. Effect of Human Genetic Variability on Gene Expression in Dorsal Root Ganglia and Association with Pain Phenotypes. Cell Rep. 2017 May 30;19(9):1940-1952.

Diatchenko L, Fillingim RB, Smith SB, Maixner W. The Phenotypic and Genetic Signatures of Common Musculoskeletal Pain Conditions. Nature Rev Rheumatology. 2013 Jun;9(6):340-50.

Shabalina SA, Zaykin DV, Gris P, Ogurtsov AY, Gauthier J, Shibata K, Tchivileva IE, Belfer I, Mishra B, Kiselycznyk C, Wallace MR, Staud R, Spiridonov NA, Max MB, Goldman D, Fillingim RB, Maixner W, Diatchenko L. Expansion of the human mu-opioid receptor gene architecture: novel functional variants. Hum Mol Genet 2009;18(6):1037-51. Epub 2008 Dec 22. PMCID: PMC2649019

Diatchenko L, Nackley AG, Tchivileva I, Shabalina SA, Maixner W. Genetic Architecture of Human Pain Perception: Clinical Implications. Trends Genet 2007;23(12):605-13. Epub 2007 Nov. 26. Review.

Nackley AG, Shabalina SA, Tchivileva IE, Satterfield K, Korchynskyi O, Makarov SS, Maixner W, Diatchenko L. Human catechol-O-methyltransferase haplotypes modulate protein expression by altering mRNA secondary structure. Science. 2006 Dec 22;314(5807):1930-3.