• Born in a little hamlet in rural Canada, I have spent the majority of my life in the north. I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 2000 under the supervision of Dr. Geoff Galef (environmental enrichment), a Master’s degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada under Dr. Linda Parker (THC and nausea, 2001) and a PhD from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 2006 under Dr. Jane Stewart (heroin and cocaine addiction).

    Continuing my love for Montreal, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship at McGill University under Dr. Paul Clarke (nicotine addiction, 2009) and under Dr. Jeff Mogil (genetics and pain, 2012). I started at UAB in the Department of Psychology in the summer of 2012 and have been here ever since.

    I am currently enjoying Alabama with my family and return to Canada in the warmer months of the year to avoid the snow. As animal lovers, we currently have 2 dogs, a cat, a rat, a snake, and eight fish, and we watch friends’ animals when they are out of town.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2018 Sex differences in pain responsesCurrent Opinion in Physiology.  6:75-81. 2018
    2018 Effects of a Standard American Diet and an anti-inflammatory diet in male and female miceEuropean Journal of Pain.  22:1203-1213. 2018
    2017 Epiregulin and EGFR interactions are involved in pain processingJournal of Clinical Investigation.  127:3353-3366. 2017
    2017 Brief Report: IL-1β Levels Are Associated with Chronic Multisite Pain in People Living with HIVJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and Human Retrovirology.  75:e99-e103. 2017
    2016 Efficacy of Common Analgesics for Postsurgical Pain in Rats. Response to Dr Shientag's Letter to the EditorAalas Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science.  55:7. 2016
    2016 Efficacy of common analgesics for postsurgical pain in ratsAalas Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science.  55:7. 2016
    2015 Translational control of nociception via 4E-binding protein 1eLife.  4. 2015
    2015 Efficacy of common analgesics for postsurgical pain in ratsAalas Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science.  54:420-425. 2015
    2014 Smads as muscle biomarkers in amyotrophic lateral sclerosisAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.  1:778-787. 2014
    2013 The Yin and Yang of pain: Variability in formalin test nociception and morphine analgesia produced by the Yin Yang 1 transcription factor geneGenes, Brain and Behavior.  12:405-413. 2013
    2012 A role for PACE4 in osteoarthritis pain: Evidence from human genetic association and null mutant phenotypeAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases.  71:1042-1048. 2012
    2012 Using the mouse grimace scale to reevaluate the efficacy of postoperative analgesics in laboratory miceAalas Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science.  51:42-49. 2012


    Year Title Altmetric
    2011 Nicotine self-administration.  Ed. 53.  2011

    Research Overview

  • The research in my lab follows a number of different paths that generally fall under the umbrella of innate immune system involvement in pain and addiction.

    First, we have shown that alteration of the innate immune system can change pain expression in animals and that the different sexes use separate cellular mechanisms to mediate pain. One are of research in my lab is examining the impact of diet on the functioning of the immune system and the resulting effect on acute pain sensitivity and persistence of chronic pain. We are looking at rodent models of diet and pain as well as developing models of nutrition and pain in zebrafish in collaboration with the Department of Biology. Recently we have started to look at the impact of diet interventions on pain in human patients with knee pain and plan to continue our parallel work in animals and human patients.

    Second, we have a number of lines of knockout mice that allow us to examine the role of various innate immune system pathways in the expression of acute and chronic pain. We are interested in the toll-like receptors and their downstream targets, the inflammasomes. Currently we have characterized the role of a number of these pathways and are actively investigating the possibility of developing pharmacological treatments to reduce pain behavior.

    Third, we are investigating the involvement of the innate immune system in the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse. Almost every drug of abuse has painkilling properties and there is evidence that these drugs also activate the immune system. Our work is focused on discovering whether we can modulate the rewarding value of opioid and stimulant drugs via immune system treatments using the conditioned place preference procedure.

    Finally, we are using the operant self-administration procedure to allow rats to self-medicate with pain-killing drugs while in a mild chronic pain state. This will allow us to measure the pain-killing and rewarding value of novel pain treatments within a single experimental procedure as a model for patient-controlled analgesia. The goal of this research is to test new drugs for their addictive potential prior to testing in humans.

    Innate immune system involvement in pain and addiction
  • Teaching Activities

    Education And Training

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, 2006
  • Master of Arts in Psychology, 2001
  • Bachelor of Science or Mathematics in Psychology, 2000
  • Full Name

  • Robert Sorge