FRESH FACES || Anna Taylor, assistant professor

Meet Anna Taylor, a new assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology studying the intersection of chronic pain and addiction.

Shelby Soke - 12 September 2017

What is your academic background?

I did my undergraduate degree at Queen's University. I got my PhD in pharmacology at McGill University, then went to the University of California in Los Angeles and did a postdoctoral fellowship in their Department of Psychiatry.

What is it like being at the University of Alberta?

Coming to the U of A to start my career as a professor is very exciting. It's the culmination of many, many years of training. It's been a dream of mine since I started my post-secondary education. University campuses have always been my happy place. I knew I wanted an academic career learning and discovering new things. Becoming a university professor is the acme of that. With classes starting, there's such an infectious, energetic environment. I'm excited to build my career here.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I'm looking forward to getting my lab up and running and filled with people. I really enjoy the one-on-one interactions with students in the lab teaching them the science and new techniques.

How would you describe the work you do in your lab?

I study the intersection between chronic pain and opioid addiction.

My lab is really focused on trying to better understand the disease of chronic pain. The underlying concept is that there are two aspects of pain. The first is the sensory aspect: how much it hurts and where. There's also an emotional, motivational aspect of pain. How much it bothers you, the unpleasantness.

In treating chronic pain (inflammation, arthritis, fibromyalgia) common drugs like opioids and NSAIDS (such as Advil) don't work well, possibly because of pain-induced changes in the emotional circuitry of the brain. My research is focused on understanding these changes in the brain that contribute to that emotional aspect of pain, in order to develop novel therapeutics that might be better at treating chronic pain.

What are your first impressions of Edmonton?

I grew up in Calgary, but shamefully knew very little about Edmonton. The city has impressed me immensely. I have enjoyed the city's vibrant arts and culture scene over the summer and the beautiful river valley.

What do you enjoy doing outside of you lab?

I'm a pretty avid knitter, but only baby clothes because I don't have the attention span for larger items of clothing.

Stay up-to-date with Anna Taylor's work by following her website