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Jürgen Sandkühler
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jürgen SandkühlerHead, Center for Brain Research

Center for Brain Research (Division of Neurophysiology)
Position: Professor

ORCID: 0000-0002-5209-485X
T +43 1 40160 34101

Further Information


Acute Pain; Analgesics, Opioid; Behavior; Chronic Pain; Microscopy, Confocal; Neuroinflammation; Neuronal Plasticity; Neurophysiology; Spinal Cord; Synapses

Research group(s)

  • Research Group Sandkühler
    Research Area: 1. Central nervous system mechanisms of pain amplification (hyperalgesia) and touch evoked pain (allodynia) 2. Mechanisms and novel targets for the treatment and prevention of pain syndromes.

Research interests

Parts of the nervous system are dedicated to transmit and process pain-related information in order to protect the body from potentially harmful stimuli. This nociceptive system is a powerful model system for studying the properties of the nervous system in health and disease from the molecular to the systemic and the behavioral levels.

Virtually all state-of-the-art technologies of modern life sciences are presently employed in pain research. It is an advantageous feature of the complex nociceptive system that it has well-defined input and output pathways. This makes it much easier to study.

Nociceptive afferents can be stimulated selectively and nociceptive output parameters can be assessed quantitatively with high precision. By virtue of its nature, pain research creates an interdisciplinary link between neurobiologists, psychologists, physiologists and pain therapists, to name but a few examples. Since pain is a major personal, medical and social burden, justification of practice has never been a problem for pain research.

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

  • Electrophysiological techniques in vitro and in vivo
    Synaptic plasticity and intrinsic properties of neurons in pain pathways are studied in our lab by performing whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from identified nociceptive neurons in spinal cord slices with long-dorsal roots attached and by evaluating synaptic strength at spinal C-fibres in vivo. 
  • Live-cell imaging
    We perform high-resolution confocal and multi-photon laser-scanning microscopy in vitro and in vivo as well as widefield ratiometric Ca2+ imaging with Ca2+-sensitive dyes and activity tracking with voltage-sensitive dyes
  • Behavioral testing and animal models
    Clinically-relevant behavioural assays and models are used to assess different modalities of nociception and further the understanding of inflammation and neuropathic pain. The CBR is equipped with state-of-the-art behavioral testing suites and sterile small animal surgery facilities.
  • Immunohistochemical, biochemical and molecular biological techniques
    These standard techniques are used in our lab to detect for example cells, neurites,  synapses, subsynaptic structures, receptors, neuronal transmitters, phosphorylation sites. 


  • Medical Neuroscience (2018)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), doc.funds Programme
    Principal Investigator
  • Activity-independent synaptic long-term potentiation in nociceptive pathways (2016)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Stand-Alone project
    Principal Investigator
  • Cell Communication in Health and Disease (2013)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Doctoral Programme
    Principal Investigator
  • Synaptic long-term potentiation after opioid withdrawal (2010)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Stand-Alone Projects
    Principal Investigator
  • A novel role for opioids - Reversal of established hyperalgesia and chronic pain (2007)
    Source of Funding: WWTF (Vienna Science and Technology Fund), Life Sciences Call (LS07-040)
    Principal Investigator
  • Impaired GABAergic inhibition in neuropathic pain (2006)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Stand-Alone Projects
    Principal Investigator
  • Synaptic mechanisms of inflammatory pain (2005)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Stand-Alone Projects
    Principal Investigator
  • Rolle der GABAergen Hemmung im Rückenmark beim Schmerz (2003)
    Source of Funding: OeNB (Oesterreichische Nationalbank), Anniversary Fund
    Principal Investigator
  • Cellular mechanisms of hyperalgesia (2002)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Stand-Alone Projects
    Principal Investigator

Selected publications

  1. Kronschläger, M.T. et al., 2016. Gliogenic LTP spreads widely in nociceptive pathways. Science, 354(6316), pp.1144-1148. Available at:
  2. Xanthos, D.N. & Sandkühler, J., 2013. Neurogenic neuroinflammation: inflammatory CNS reactions in response to neuronal activity. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15(1), pp.43-53. Available at:
  3. Drdla-Schutting, R. et al., 2012. Erasure of a Spinal Memory Trace of Pain by a Brief, High-Dose Opioid Administration. Science, 335(6065), pp.235-238. Available at:
  4. Drdla, R. et al., 2009. Induction of Synaptic Long-Term Potentiation After Opioid Withdrawal. Science, 325(5937), pp.207-210. Available at:
  5. Ikeda, H., 2006. Synaptic Amplifier of Inflammatory Pain in the Spinal Dorsal Horn. Science, 312(5780), pp.1659-1662. Available at: