welcome to the

Ribeiro-da-Silva Lab

for Research on Pain

The Lab

The Ribeiro-da-Silva lab, located in the McIntyre Building of McGill University, investigates mechanisms of chronic pain conditions in animal models of arthritis and neuropathic pain.

In the past, the lab was mainly specialized in confocal microscopy and immunocytochemistry at the light and electron microscopic levels, as well as in animal pain-related behaviour testing. However, in recent years we incorporated in our research biochemistry approaches, the use of transgenic models and of viral vectors, with the main goal of unravelling the detailed mechanisms leading to chronic pain states. Through collaboration with colleagues, we also have access to optogenetics and electrophysiology.

Research Areas

With our variety of basic science approaches we tackle the following areas of chronic pain to better understand this multifaceted disease.

Microglia in the spinal cord labelled with 3,3′- diaminobenzidine (DAB).

Neuropathic Pain

One of the most poorly managed chronic pain conditions, neuropathic pain (NP) is very complex. Our work focuses on spinal cord plasticity with an emphasis on spinal disinhibition and synaptic pruning. To investigate these questions we use multiple rat models of NP as well as various transgenic mouse lines.


Affecting 1 in 5 Canadians, arthritis is one of the most common forms of chronic pain. Our work investigates the peripheral and central changes that occur during the acute and chronic phases of this disease, including nerve sprouting, microgliosis, and KCC2 downregulation. To investigate these questions we use an ankle model of inflammatory and osteoarthritis developed in our lab.

Radiographic changes of rat ankle joint model in our osteoarthritis model. Ventral view of the ankle shows surface fibrillations in the talus (yellow).

Laminar organization of the dorsal horn, at the C4 level of the adult rat spinal cord. Micrographs taken from frozen cross sections, 50 μm in thickness, stained with toluidine blue.

Neural Circuitry

Dr. Ribeiro-da-Silva has been studying neuronal circuits in both the peripheral and central nervous systems for over 3 decades. In more recent years, his lab started to use genetic models and viral vectors to investigate plastic changes in the neuronal circuitry in the dorsal horn in animal models of arthritis and neuropathic pain.

Alfredo Ribeiro da Silva



Dr. Ribeiro-da-Silva received his MD and PhD in Porto, Portugal. His main research interest is the unravelling of the mechanisms underlying chronic pain, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems. He is particularly interested in animal models of arthritis pain and of neuropathic pain. Methods used in his lab include: immunocytochemistry at the light and electron microscopic levels, animal behaviour testing, and neurochemistry. He uses advanced tools such as replication deficient viral vectors to study synaptic circuits in the spinal cord and their changes in pain states. He is also investigating the effects of modulating the endogenous levels of neurotrophic factors as a potential therapeutic approach for arthritis and neuropathic pain. He is a core member of the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain and an investigator of the Quebec Pain Research Network (QPRN).

The Research Team

Valérie Bourassa

PhD Candidate – Neuroscience

  • B.A. – Occidental College Cognitive Science

Rose Rodrigues

PhD Student – Anatomy and Cell Biology

  • Honors BSc. – University of British Columbia Cell & Developmental Biology

Manon St-Louis

Research Technician

  • CEGEP – Ahuntsic
    Techniques de Chimie – Biologie
  • Bsc – l’Université de Montréal
    Sciences Biologiques

Simran Dhir

MSc Student – Pharmacology and Therapeutics

  • Bsc – University of Toronto
    Pharmacology and Biomedical Toxicology

Hannah Derue

MSc Student – Neuroscience

  • BASc – University of Guelph-Humber Psychology

Investigates pain mechanisms associated with osteoarthritis.

Investigates mitochondrial dynamics in neuropathic pain.

Optimizes protocols, trains staff  and manages lab safety, supplies & administration.

Contribution of structural synapse plasticity in dorsal horn on neuropathic pain.

Investigates movement-related pain mechanisms in arthritis

Our Facilities

Advanced Bio-Imaging Facility

Thanks to this McGill core facility we are able to perform advanced confocal and superresolution microscopy. In addition to modern software permitting complex analyses.

Centre for Advanced Bone and Periodontal Research

In conjunction with researchers at the Bone Centre, a McGill core facility we are able to assess joint degredation in our arthritis models using CT scans. Replicating findings in the clinical population.

Facility for Electron Microscopy

Johanne Ouellette, utilizes this departmental facility to assist us in investigating changes associated with chronic pain at the electron micrograph level. This is a technique used by our lab since its conception.


Interested in joining our lab? We would love to hear from you.