IPN PI Profile: Dr. Catherine E. Ferland

Dr. Ferland is a clinical Neurophysiologist interested in pediatric pain. She has a broad academic background including Kinesiology, Veterinary Biomedicine and Clinical Neurophysiology. Her laboratory is based at the Shriners Hospital for Children-Canada where she leads the SPINE (Strategies in Pain INtervention Evaluation) research group comprising close collaborative work with orthopedic surgeons and anesthesiologists from the McGill University Health Centre. Thousands of children undergo surgery across Canada each year. Postoperative pain has immediate consequences leading to postoperative morbidity. Moreover, between 10 to 20 % of children undergoing surgery will develop chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP), making this problem the most common surgical complication. Preventing CPSP becomes highly relevant as it may predispose children to experience recurrent pain during adulthood. The clinical challenge rests in the ability to determine which patient will be at risk of having CPSP and which intervention will best fit for a specific patient. In this context, it is of high relevance to provide clinicians a tool to identify patients at risk of having CPSP, as well as a feasible explanation for the rational of personalized treatment. Our research investigates the pain processing and underlying mechanisms leading to CPSP. We evaluate the clinical relevance of a sensory testing combined with a molecular analysis over the perioperative period to identify patients at higher risks of developing chronic pain.

The proposed research from Dr. Ferland's laboratory aims to guide the development of clinical strategies for the management of postoperative pain focused on sound mechanistic based therapeutic medications decreasing the risk of chronic pain. With multidisciplinary interests in orthopedics, neurophysiology and anesthesia, our research program integrates basic, translational and clinical initiatives for the prevention of CPSP to achieve transformative changes in the care of this challenging disorder. 

Current research projects in Dr. Ferland's lab:

  • Optimization of pain assessment during the perioperative period.
  • Impact of major orthopedic surgery on the descending inhibitory pain response efficacy.
  • Evaluation of neurophysiological factors underlying back pain in children.
  • Predictors of chronic postoperative pain after a spine surgery.