Karen Davis

Karen Davis

Biography

Dr. Karen Davis obtained her PhD from the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto and went on to complete a post-doctoral fellowship at John Hopkins University. She was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery in 1995 and joined the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto in 1996, where she was its Graduate Coordinator from 2002-2008 and Associate Director between 2009 and 2012.
Dr. Davis is founding member of the University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain and currently sits on its Executive Committee. She is also currently Professor at the Department of Surgery and Head and Senior Scientist of the Division of Brain, Imaging and Behaviour – Systems Neuroscience at Krembil Brain Institute.

Research Interests

The main focus of research in my lab is the central mechanisms underlying pain and temperature perception, the influence of attention and mechanisms of plasticity under normal conditions and in patients with neurologic or psychiatric disorders. A variety of experimental techniques are used, including structural and functional brain imaging (MRI, MEG), psychophysical and cognitive assessment. The lab has been refining brain imaging techniques to allow for clinically-relevant investigations of pain in normal and injured states. For instance, we are developing and applying tools to detect the individual differences in brain circuitry underlying pain and the different ways in which people cope with pain and balance cognitive demands with pain. We hope to use these approaches to understand brain abnormalities in chronic pain, treatment responses, and to predict how patients with chronic pain will respond to specific treatments. The lab is also applying these approaches to understand the impact of concussion on brain structure and function. Specific projects include:
Psychophysical studies of acute pain qualities
Functional and structural MRI studies of acute pain qualities (prickling pain, cold pain, etc.)
Physiological, psychophysical, functional and structural MRI, and MEG studies of chronic pain (e.g., neuropathic pain)
Psychophysical, functional and structural MRI studies of the interaction between pain and attention
Behavioural and imaging studies of individual factors (e.g., personality, coping) contributing to pain sensitivity
Brain imaging studies of sports-related concussions