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Grants & Prizes

ANA 2024 Best Thesis Award

Congratulation to Valeria Mussetto, winner of the ANA Best Thesis Award 2024!

Her PhD work in Jürgen Sandkühler’s lab at the Center for Brain Research in Vienna aimed at understanding the neurobiological substrates of the emotional components of pain. In particular, she focused on the lateral parabrachial nucleus, a brainstem center that is crucial for pain aversion, and investigated how neuro-glial transmission can be modulated in this area.

She discovered two novel forms of synaptic plasticity at glutamatergic synapses triggered by opioid administration, identifying the parabrachial nucleus as a new site of opioid-induced neuronal adaptations and describing the first direct evidence of plasticity in this structure. Additionally, Valeria’s work shed light into the largely unexplored roles of parabrachial glial cells, expanding our understanding of regional variability in neuro-immuno-glial networks in the brain and providing insights into the differential contribution of glia to specific aspects of pathological pain.

Valeria’s findings have significant implications for our understanding of opioid abuse and chronic pain mechanisms and can open new avenues for the treatment of these conditions. Details of her findings can be found on JPain and Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience.

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