JavaScript is unavailable or disabled; so you are probably going to miss out on a few things. Everything should still work, but with a little less pzazz! Skip to main content
The William Harvey Research Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr Shafaq Sikandar


Senior Lecturer in Sensory Biology

Centre: Experimental Medicine & Rheumatology



ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6010-5205

Dr Shafaq Sikandar is a senior lecturer at the William Harvey Research Institute and group leader of the Sensory Neurophysiology lab. Her research training was based on rodent and human models to study the neurophysiology of pain. Shafaq’s PhD training was in the Pharmacology department in University College London, and she continued postdoctoral training in the Anaesthesiology department of University of California San Diego and in the Wolfson Institute of Biomedical Research in UCL. In 2018 she was awarded a Versus Arthritis fellowship and appointed lecturer in sensory biology in the Centre for Experimental Medicine & Rheumatology.

The Sensory Neurophysiology lab researches neuronal mechanisms underlying the transition from acute to chronic pain, with a focus on musculoskeletal pain and neuro-immune interactions. We use in vivo approaches in mouse models of pain (behaviour, electrophysiology) in combination with molecular biology. Clinical studies are focussed on patients with early arthritis and post-surgical pain.

Shafaq teaches on BSc modules Repair & regeneration (BMD361) / Disconnected pathways (ICM6013) and is the WHRI lead for Equality Diversity & Inclusion.


Group members

Dr Sara Caxaria (PDRA); Dr Alice Fuller (PDRA); Ms Sabah Bharde (PhD); Dr Brian Herath (PhD); Ms Petek Celik (Technician)


Key Publications

Peer-reviewed research articles:

  • Seullner F, Gayoso MV, Sikandar S, da Silva LM, Foensca RG and Barros GAM. Analgesic efficacy of a portable, disposable, and self-applied transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device during migraine attacks: a real-life randomized controlled trial (2021). Pain Practice
  • MacDonald DM, Sikandar S, Weiss J, Pyrski M, Luiz AP, Millet Q, Emery EC, Mancini F, Iannetti GD, Zhao J, Cox JJ, Brownstone RM, Zufall F and Wood JN (2021). The mechanism of analgesia in Nav1.7 null mutants. Neuron 109(9):1497-1512.e6.
  • Clauser L, Luiz AP, Santana-Varela S, Wood JN and Sikandar S. Sensitization of cutaneous primary afferents in bone cancer revealed by in vivo calcium imaging (2020). Cancers 12(12), 3491.
  • Clauser L, Santana-Varela S, Wood JN and Sikandar S. Investigating the role of osteoclast activity in skeletal pain (2020). Eur J Pain doi doi: 10.1002/ejp.1662.
  • Luiz AP, MacDonald DM, Santana-Varela S, Millet Q, Sikandar S, Wood JN* and Emery EC* (2019). Cold sensing by NaV8-negative sensory neurons. PNAS 116(9):3811-3816.
  • Bangash MA*, Alles SRA*, Santana-Varela S*, Millet Q*, Sikandar S*, de Clauser L*, Ter Heegde F*, Habib AM* et al. (2018). Distinct transcriptional responses of mouse sensory neurons in models of human chronic pain conditions. Wellcome Open Research 3:78.
  • Sikandar S, Lau J, Minett MS, Millet Q, Santana-Varela, Wood JN and Zhao J (2018). BDNF expressed in sensory neurones mediates the transition of acute to chronic pain. Brain 141(4):1028-1039.
  • Habib AM*, Matsuyama A*, Okorokov AL*, Santana-Varela S*, Brais JT, Bogdanov YD, Emery EC, Follenfant M, Gossage SJ, Gras M, Humphrey J, Cann KL, Li S, Minett MS, Pereira V, Ponsolles C, Sikandar S, Torres JM, Yamaoka K, Zhao J, Komine Y, Yamamori T, Maniatis N, Panov KI, Houlden H, Ramirez JD, Bennett DL, Marsili L, Bachiocco V, Aloisi AM, Wood JN, Cox JJ (2017). A point mutation in the transcriptional regulator ZFHX2 causes pain insensitivity in humans and mice. Brain 1;141(2):365-376.
  • Sikandar S, West SJ, McMahon SB, Bennett DL and Dickenson AH (2017). Spinal and thalamic neural coding of deep tissue nociception. Physiological Reports 5(14). pii: e13323.
  • Dalmolin G, Bannister K, Gonçalves L, Sikandar S, Patel R, Cordeiro MN, Gomez MV, Ferreira J, Dickenson AH (2017). Effect of the spider toxin Tx3-3 on spinal processing of sensory information in naïve and neuropathic rats: an in vivo electrophysiological study. Pain Reports 2(4): p e610.
  • Emery EC*, Luiz AP*, Sikandar S, Magnusdottir R, Dong X and Wood JN (2016). In vivo characterization of distinct modality- specific subsets of somatosensory neurons using GCaMP. Science Advances 2(11):
  • Sikandar S, Gustavsson Y, Marino MJ, Dickenson AH, Yaksh TL, Sorkin LS and Ramachandran R (2016). Effects of intraplantar botulinum toxin B on inflammation induced changes in nociception and spinal phosphorylation of GluA1 and Akt. Eur J Neuroscience 44(1):1714-22.
  • Minett MS*, Pereira V*, Sikandar S, Matsuyama A, Lolignier S, Kanellopoulos AH, Mancini F, Iannetti GD, Bogdanov YD, Santana-Varela S, Millet Q, Baskozos G, MacAllister R, Cox JJ, Zhao J, and Wood JN (2015). Endogenous opioids contribute to insensitivity to pain in humans and mice lacking sodium channel Nav1.7. Nat Commun 6:8967.
  • Sikandar S, Ronga I, Iannetti GD and Dickenson AH (2013). Neural coding of nociceptive stimuli - from rat spinal neurones to human perception. Pain 154(8):1263-73.
  • Sikandar S, Bannister K and Dickenson AH (2012). Brainstem facilitations and descending serotonergic controls contribute to visceral nociception but not pregabalin analgesia in rats. Neurosci Lett 519(1):31-6.
  • Sikandar S and Dickenson AH (2011). Pregabalin modulation of spinal and brainstem visceral nociceptive processing. Pain 152(10):2312-22.
  • Bannister K, Sikandar S, Bauer CS, Dolphin AC, Porreca F and Dickenson AH (2011). Pregabalin suppresses spinal neuronal hyperexcitability and visceral hypersensitivity in the absence of peripheral pathophysiology. Anesthesiology 115(1):144-52.
  • Rahman W, Sikandar S, Suzuki R, Hunt SP, Dickenson AH (2007). Superficial NK1 expressing spinal dorsal horn neurones modulate inhibitory neurotransmission mediated by spinal GABA(A) receptors. Neurosci Lett 419(3):278-83
  • O’Neill J*, Sikandar S*, McMahon SB and Dickenson AH (2015). Human psychophysics and rodent spinal neurones exhibit peripheral and central mechanisms of inflammatory pain in the UVB and UVB heat rekindling models. J Physiol 593(17):4029-42.


Peer reviewed research reviews:

  • Marchetti MA, Sikandar S, Ferris FD, Barros GAM (2020). Spread the word: there are two opioid crises! Drugs (in press)
  • Sikandar S, Aasvang E and Dickenson AH (2016). Scratching the surface: the processing of pain from deep tissues. Pain Management 6(2):95-102.
  • Sikandar S and Dickenson AH (2013). No need for translation when the same language is spoken. British Journal of Anaesthesiology 111(1):3-6.
  • Sikandar S, Patel R, Patel S and Sikander S (2013). Genes, molecules and patients - Emerging topics in pain research. Eur J Pharmacology 716(1-3):188-202.
  • Sikandar S and Dickenson AH (2012). Visceral pain: the ins and outs, the ups and downs. Curr Opin Support Palliat Care 6(1):17-26. 


  • Sikandar S and Sommer C (Editor Wood JN). ‘Neurotrophins, Cytokines, and Pain’ in The Oxford Handbook of the Neurobiology of Pain. Oxford Handbooks, 2019.
  • Suzuki R, Sikandar S and Dickenson AH (Eds Bruera ED and Portenoy RK). ‘Nociception: basic principles’ in Cancer Pain. Cambridge University Press, 2009.


We are grateful to our generous funders:




  • Prof John Wood (UCL)
  • Prof Guilherme Barros (UNESP)
Back to top