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The William Harvey Research Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr Shafaq Sikandar


Lecturer in Sensory Biology

Centre: Experimental Medicine and 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 and back translational approaches with mouse models in combination with molecular biology. Clinical studies are focussed on patients with post-surgical pain and arthritis.

Shafaq teaches on BSc modules Repair & regeneration (BMD361) / Disconnected pathways (ICM6013) and is the FMD Equality Diversity and Inclusion Lead for Communications and Engagement.


Group members

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


Key Publications

Full publication list here

Recent research articles:

  • Caxaria S, Bharde S, Fuller AM, Evans R, Thomas B, Celik P, Dell’Accio F, Yona S, Gilroy D, Voisin MB, Wood JN, Sikandar S (2022). Neutrophils infiltrate sensory ganglia and mediate chronic widespread pain in fibromyalgia. Submitted and under first revision in PNAS; Preprint on bioRxiv doi:
  • Caxaria S, Kouvatsos N, Eldridge SE, Alvarez MF, Thorup AS, Cici D, Moran AB, Arshed A, Strachan D, Carletti G, Huang A, Bharde S, Deniz M, Wils J, Thomas B, Pitzalis C, Cantatore F, Sayilekshmy M, Sikandar S, Luyten F, Pap T, Sherwood J, Day A and Dell’Accio F (2022). Disease modification and symptom relief in osteoarthritis using a mutated GCP-2/CXCL6 chemokine. EMBO Mol Med (Accepted).
  • 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 21(8):850-858.
  • 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.

Recent research reviews/book chapters:

  • Marchetti MA, Sikandar S, Ferris FD, Barros GAM (2020). Spread the word: there are two opioid crises! Drugs (in press)
  • Sikandar S and Sommer C (Editor Wood JN). ‘Neurotrophins, Cytokines, and Pain’ in The Oxford Handbook of the Neurobiology of Pain. Oxford Handbooks, 2019.




  • Prof John Wood (UCL); Prof Guilherme Barros (UNESP)
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