• 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
    2022 Inhibition of the RNA Regulator HuR by SRI-42127 Attenuates Neuropathic Pain After Nerve Injury Through Suppression of Neuroinflammatory ResponsesNeurotherapeutics.  19:1649-1661. 2022
    2022 Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) is Associated with Movement-Evoked Pain Severity in Adults with Chronic Low Back Pain: Sociodemographic Differences.Pain Forum.  23:1437-1447. 2022
    2022 The neurobiology of social stress resulting from Racism: Implications for pain disparities among racialized minoritiesNeurobiology of Pain.  12. 2022
    2022 Corrigendum to “An improved model of type 2 diabetes with effects on glucose tolerance, neuropathy and retinopathy with and without obesity” (Physiology & Behavior (2022) 248, (S0031938422000476), (10.1016/j.physbeh.2022.113740))Physiology and Behavior.  251. 2022
    2022 An improved model of type 2 diabetes with effects on glucose tolerance, neuropathy and retinopathy with and without obesityPhysiology and Behavior.  248. 2022
    2022 Racial Differences in Pain, Nutrition, and Oxidative StressPain and Therapy.  11:37-56. 2022
    2022 Relationship between diet and relative risk of pain in a cross-sectional analysis of the REGARDS longitudinal studyPain Management.  12:168-179. 2022
    2022 Racial Differences in 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D and Self-Reported Pain Severity in a Sample of Individuals Living with Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain.Journal of Pain Research.  15:3859-3867. 2022
    2021 Sleep and neighborhood socioeconomic status: a micro longitudinal study of chronic low-back pain and pain-free individualsJournal of Behavioral Medicine.  44:811-821. 2021
    2021 Temporal summation of mechanical pain prospectively predicts movement-evoked pain severity in adults with chronic low back painBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.  22. 2021
    2021 The effect of the Standard American Diet on Iba-1 immunoreactivity in the spinal cord before and after peripheral inflammatory injury in ratsPharmaNutrition.  18. 2021
    2020 Obesity diminishes response to PD-1-based immunotherapies in renal cancerJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer.  8. 2020
    2020 Dietary Interventions for Treatment of Chronic Pain: Oxidative Stress and InflammationPain and Therapy.  9:487-498. 2020
    2020 Obesity-Associated Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells Promote Apoptosis of Tumor-Infiltrating CD8 T Cells and Immunotherapy Resistance in Breast CancerFrontiers in Immunology.  11. 2020
    2020 The sad weekend: A perilous North American traditionNeurobiology of Pain.  8. 2020
    2020 Spinal Mobilization Prevents NGF-Induced Trunk Mechanical Hyperalgesia and Attenuates Expression of CGRPFrontiers in Neuroscience.  14. 2020
    2020 Sex and gender are not the same: Why identity is important for people living with HIV and chronic painJournal of Pain Research.  13:829-835. 2020
    2020 The effect of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets on pain in individuals with knee osteoarthritisPain Medicine.  21:150-160. 2020
    2018 Sex differences in pain responses 2018
    2018 Effects of diet on immune cells within the central nervous systemPhysiology and Behavior.  196:158-164. 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
    2018 Neuropsychiatric Phenotypes Produced by GABA Reduction in Mouse Cortex and HippocampusNeuropsychopharmacology.  43:1445-1456. 2018
    2017 The impact of the Standard American Diet in rats: Effects on behavior, physiology and recovery from inflammatory injuryScandinavian Journal of Pain.  17:316-324. 2017
    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 HIV 2017
    2017 Immune system involvement in specific pain conditionsMolecular Pain.  13. 2017
    2017 Sex Differences in PainJournal of Neuroscience Research.  95:1271-1281. 2017
    2017 A novel zebrafish-based model of nociceptionPhysiology and Behavior.  174:83-88. 2017
    2016 eIF2α phosphorylation controls thermal nociception 2016
    2016 Efficacy of Common Analgesics for Postsurgical Pain in Rats. Response to Dr Shientag's Letter to the Editor 2016
    2016 Efficacy of common analgesics for postsurgical pain in rats 2016
    2016 Total Western Diet Alters Mechanical and Thermal Sensitivity and Prolongs Hypersensitivity Following Complete Freund's Adjuvant in MicePain Forum.  17:119-125. 2016
    2015 Translational control of nociception via 4E-binding protein 1eLife.  4. 2015
    2015 Different immune cells mediate mechanical pain hypersensitivity in male and female miceNature Neuroscience.  18:1081-1083. 2015
    2015 Efficacy of common analgesics for postsurgical pain in rats 2015
    2015 The nicotinic α6 subunit gene determines variability in chronic pain sensitivity via cross-inhibition of P2X2/3 receptorsScience Translational Medicine.  7. 2015
    2015 Protease-activated receptor 2 activation is sufficient to induce the transition to a chronic pain statePain.  156:859-867. 2015
    2015 Spinal dopaminergic projections control the transition to pathological pain plasticity via a D1/D5-mediated mechanism 2015
    2015 Dietary influence on pain via the immune systemProgress in molecular biology and translational science.  131:435-469. 2015
    2014 Smads as muscle biomarkers in amyotrophic lateral sclerosisAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.  1:778-787. 2014
    2014 Quantifying blood-spinal cord barrier permeability after peripheral nerve injury in the living mouseMolecular Pain.  10. 2014
    2014 Olfactory exposure to males, including men, causes stress and related analgesia in rodentsNature Methods.  11:629-632. 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
    2013 Control of synaptic plasticity and memory via suppression of poly(A)-Binding proteinNeuron.  78:298-311. 2013
    2013 MTORC1 inhibition induces pain via IRS-1-dependent feedback activation of ERKPain.  154:1080-1091. 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 Serotonin-Induced Hypersensitivity via Inhibition of Catechol O-Methyltransferase ActivityMolecular Pain.  8. 2012
    2012 Genetically determined P2X7 receptor pore formation regulates variability in chronic pain sensitivityNature Medicine.  18:595-599. 2012
    2012 Using the mouse grimace scale to reevaluate the efficacy of postoperative analgesics in laboratory mice 2012
    2011 Pain sensitivity and vasopressin analgesia are mediated by a gene-sex-environment interactionNature Neuroscience.  14:1569-1573. 2011
    2011 Spinal cord Toll-like receptor 4 mediates inflammatory and neuropathic hypersensitivity in male but not female mice. 2011
    2011 Spinal cord toll-like receptor 4 mediates inflammatory and neuropathic hypersensitivity in male but not female mice 2011
    2011 The Rat Grimace Scale: A partially automated method for quantifying pain in the laboratory rat via facial expressionsMolecular Pain.  7. 2011
    2010 Oxytocin-induced analgesia and scratching are mediated by the vasopressin-1A receptor in the mouse 2010
    2010 Coding of facial expressions of pain in the laboratory mouseNature Methods.  7:447-449. 2010
    2009 Facilitation of intravenous nicotine self-administration in rats by a motivationally neutral sensory stimulusPsychopharmacology.  207:191-200. 2009
    2009 Rats self-administer intravenous nicotine delivered in a novel smoking-relevant procedure: Effects of dopamine antagonistsJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.  330:633-640. 2009
    2007 High-dose methadone maintenance in rats: Effects on cocaine self-administration and behavioral side effectsNeuropsychopharmacology.  32:2290-2300. 2007
    2007 Chronic buprenorphine reduces the response to sucrose-associated cues in non food-deprived rats 2007
    2006 Dopamine has bidirectional effects on synaptic responses to cortical inputs in layer II of the lateral entorhinal cortexJournal of Neurophysiology.  96:3006-3015. 2006
    2006 The effects of chronic buprenorphine on intake of heroin and cocaine in rats and its effects on nucleus accumbens dopamine levels during self-administrationPsychopharmacology.  188:28-41. 2006
    2006 The effects of long-term chronic buprenorphine treatment on the locomotor and nucleus accumbens dopamine response to acute heroin and cocaine in rats 2006
    2005 The contribution of drug history and time since termination of drug taking to footshock stress-induced cocaine seeking in ratsPsychopharmacology.  183:210-217. 2005
    2005 Rats maintained chronically on buprenorphine show reduced heroin and cocaine seeking in tests of extinction and drug-induced reinstatementNeuropsychopharmacology.  30:1681-1692. 2005
    2004 Effect of low doses of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on the extinction of cocaine-induced and amphetamine-induced conditioned place preference learning in ratsPsychopharmacology.  175:360-366. 2004
    2004 Methadone maintenance reduces heroin- and cocaine-induced relapse without affecting stress-induced relapse in a rodent model of poly-drug useNeuropsychopharmacology.  29:1312-1320. 2004
    2003 A role for the prefrontal cortex in stress- and cocaine-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking in ratsPsychopharmacology.  168:66-74. 2003
    2002 Effect of sodium deprivation on morphine- and lithium-induced conditioned salt avoidance and taste reactivityPsychopharmacology.  160:84-91. 2002


    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

  • NBL499 - Neuroscience Thesis (Spring Term 2021)
  • PY253 - Brain Mind and Behavior (Fall Term 2016)
  • PY253 - Brain Mind and Behavior (Spring Term 2013)
  • PY253 - Brain Mind and Behavior (Spring Term 2014)
  • PY253 - Brain Mind and Behavior (Spring Term 2015)
  • PY253 - Brain Mind and Behavior (Spring Term 2018)
  • PY253 - Brain Mind and Behavior (Spring Term 2019)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2013)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2014)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2015)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2016)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2017)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2018)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2019)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2020)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2021)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Fall Term 2022)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Summer Term 2019)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Summer Term 2020)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Summer Term 2021)
  • PY390 - Animal Behavior (Summer Term 2022)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2013)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2014)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2015)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2016)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2017)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2018)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2019)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2020)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2021)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2022)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Summer Term 2018)
  • PY431 - The Dynamics of Pain (Summer Term 2019)
  • PY520 - Special Topics in Psychology (Fall Term 2021)
  • PY687 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2020)
  • PY687 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2021)
  • PY687 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2022)
  • PY787 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2014)
  • PY787 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2015)
  • PY787 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2016)
  • PY787 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2017)
  • PY787 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2018)
  • PY787 - The Dynamics of Pain (Spring Term 2019)
  • 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