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The PRF-ISPP 2023 Correspondents Blog: Preview

PRF-ISPP 2023 Correspondents

29 September 2023

PRF News

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Five pain researchers are participating in the PRF-ISPP 2023 Correspondents Program during the International Symposium on Pediatric Pain, taking place 1-4  October in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Correspondents program is a unique science communication training program that provides participants with the knowledge, skills, and best practices needed to communicate science effectively to a wide range of pain researchers, patients, and the greater public. The Correspondents will conduct interviews with pain professionals, write summaries of scientific lectures – and provide live blogging, too! Take a look at their first blog posts below.   

The PRF-ISPP Correspondents Program has been made possible through generous contributions from Solutions for Kids in Pain (SKIP) and the Centre for Pediatric Pain Research (CPPR).



ISPP Preview Blog Posts

Better Together, Innovation through Partnerships

Embracing Change

Research Is an Art

This Scientist’s Expectations

Does Anybody Have a Time Machine?

Better Together, Innovation through Partnerships

Heading into ISPP 2023, there’s excitement, apprehension, preparation, and packing (…soon!).

As I sit in the spring morning sun here in Adelaide, Australia – coffee in hand – I’m reflecting on this year’s theme: Better Together, Innovation through Partnerships.

When I think about “better together,” I think about conversations. I think about bringing minds together. I think about diversity. Many of the best ideas come about through conversations and (often unexpected) interactions – whether it be captured on a napkin at the local pub or driving with a colleague to school pick-up. Let’s learn to be creative and innovative through working “better together!”

When I think about “innovation through partnerships,” I think about all the wonderful people and partners. I think about the opportunities and being inclusive, purposeful, and equitable – breaking down barriers and providing a platform for others to have their voices heard. Fostering a space to have “light-bulb moments”!

I’m looking forward to hearing the voices and perspectives of individuals from around the world – to learn about how we can better establish, build, and maintain diverse partnerships in pediatric pain research and care. If we can work better together, it has the potential to make real change in the lives of children and their families.

Attending ISPP 2023 in Halifax is a privilege. An opportunity to learn from and with others. To have conversations. To get creative in our partnerships. Be reflexive. Authentic. Get outside of our comfort zone – and learn to sit in that space.

While I am daunted by the long flight ahead (>24 hours!), there is so much to look forward to. It’s going to be busy. It’s going to be great.

Let’s do this! 

Sarah Wallwork, PhD, is a research fellow in IIMPACT in Health at the University of South Australia. You can follow her on Twitter/X – @SarahBWallwork. 


Sarah Wallwork is a research fellow in IIMPACT (Innovation, IMPlementation, And Clinical Translation) in Health at the University of South Australia. Her research targets early childhood (0- 7-year-olds) as a critical period to buffer against the development of future pain problems. Her work investigates the socialization of pain and injury in the early years, as well as the impact of children’s pain experiences on the development of their foundational beliefs and behaviors surrounding pain. Importantly, her research investigates how these early life experiences can lay the trajectory for future pain experiences. 

Embracing Change

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling journey through the realm of cutting-edge pediatric pain research? I know I am, and it’s all happening at ISPP 2023! As someone with a background in basic and translational science research, I’m brimming with excitement about this conference, which marks a significant shift in my research focus.

As I prepare for Halifax, I can’t help but reflect on my transition from laboratory-based research to the new (at least for me!) field of clinical research.


For years, I’ve been immersed in basic science, exploring the molecular pathways that result in hyperexcitability in the spinal cord. However, I’m ready for a new challenge – I want to explore the emergence of pain around puberty, this time, from a clinical perspective. So I’ll be starting a clinical research postdoctoral fellowship with Christine Chambers and Sean Christie at Dalhousie University this fall. ISPP 2023 will be the first time in my scientific career that I will prioritize clinical sessions during parallel symposia – and I am stoked!

ISPP 2023 – with its stellar lineup of speakers and diverse array of topics – presents the perfect platform for me to delve headfirst into this exciting new chapter of my career. From discussions on pain management in specific pediatric populations, biopsychosocial models, and knowledge mobilization, the conference promises a comprehensive exploration of pediatric pain.

What excites me most is the interdisciplinary nature of the sessions. Bringing together experts across disciplines has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of pediatric pain and – more importantly – enhance the lives of those affected and their families.

As I prepare for ISPP 2023, I’m filled with a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm. This conference isn’t just an opportunity to learn, it’s a celebration of an exciting new chapter. Here’s to new beginnings and the exciting journey that lies ahead!

Annemarie Dedek, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can follow her on Twitter/X – @AnnemarieDedek.

After achieving her PhD, Annemarie Dedek participated in a Mitacs Industrial Postdoctoral Fellowship in the laboratories of Mike Hildebrand and Eve Tsai at Carleton University and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Ontario, Canada. Her work there utilized rodent and human tissue to uncover mechanisms of spinal hyperexcitability. Following her basic and translational science training, Annemarie will now be joining the laboratories of Christine Chambers and Sean Christie at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, for a postdoctoral fellowship focusing on clinical pain research this fall.

Research Is an Art

Have you ever looked at a piece of abstract art and – despite finding it beautiful – not understand how to interpret it?

This is what health science research looks like to many young students. Like an abstract painting, we can appreciate the experimental results, but what is the process?

Many of us are superficially taught how to read and appraise research articles – never mind how to conduct research – until much later in our education. As a nurse, I remember being told that research is not a relatable field or something that most will pursue, as it takes away clinical experience. As my career advanced and I started working with children in pain, I began to understand the value of research.

Research is an art – from the selection of methods to sampling, and the analysis of results to dissemination. Research and art also take practice, inspiration, and engagement to evolve.

ISPP 2023 is an invaluable experience to foster the minds of young researchers (like myself) and provide tangible solutions for clinical problems. For more seasoned researchers and clinicians, the symposium will provide ideas and lead to collaborations that can further their work.

In all cases, ISPP 2023 will advance collective knowledge and push the scientific enterprise as it seeks to help children in pain. I can’t wait to hear about innovative technologies, multidisciplinary programs for pain management, and pain in underserved demographics – not just the beauty of the results, but also the process it took to reach them.

Jéssica Ding is a master’s student at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. You can follow her on Twitter/X – @JessicadingJD.

Jéssica Ding is a registered nurse serving children with complex orthopedic conditions requiring surgery and rehabilitation at the Shriners Hospital for Children-Canada in Montreal, Quebec. Jéssica is pursuing a master’s degree in advanced practice nursing in the research stream at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and is passionate about the integration of various disciplines into nursing – including the use of innovative media to disseminate research to children and their families. She is currently exploring the use of virtual reality as a non-pharmacological method of pain and anxiety control, and working on the creation of a podcast that shares with clinicians the potential uses of virtual reality in child health, education, surgery, and dentistry. Her work also includes the creation of culturally adapted medical resources for children in Brazil and the integration of technology in the process of enhancing autonomy in teenagers with chronic disorders.

This Scientist’s Expectations

Scientific meetings serve as a platform for attendees to exchange ideas and advance research agendas. While this is certainly the collective goal of ISPP 2023, individual expectations will vary greatly (especially in the context of someone’s background and goals). I’ve got my own expectations for ISPP 2023. They include:

  1. The presence of attendees who will provide their valuable insights and contributions to the field of pain research.
  1. Robust knowledge sharing across all disciplines.
  1. Constructive criticism of my poster! Please help me to improve my research and come check it out on Monday, 2 October!
  1. Networking with my peers and leaders in the field. We have to take advantage of professional connections that can lead to collaborations and future research ideas.
  1. Learning new methods, research techniques, and emerging trends.
  1. Attending workshops, panel discussions, and sessions focused on career development and skill-building! I’ve got a career to nurture myself.
  1. A bit of recognition. I’m hopeful my hard work and determination will enhance my visibility and reputation in the pain field and other related disciplines.

In short, I want to remember ISPP 2023 as a success – both for myself and for children with the lived experience of pain. Let’s be better, together.   

Adewale Oluwaseun Fadaka, PhD, is a research fellow at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Ohio, USA. You can follow him on Twitter/X – @silvernonferous.

Adewale Oluwaseun Fadaka is a research fellow at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC-Ohio, USA) working in the laboratory of Michael Jankowski. He’s experienced in various fields of natural and basic science focusing on pain, in silico drug repurposing, biomarker discovery, and nanotherapeutics. Most notably, his research is focused on the development of pain and injury responses across the lifespan with the goal of developing novel treatments. Prior to joining CCHMC, Adewale was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa, and also has more than seven years of teaching, research, and mentorship experience at Afe Babalola University, Nigeria. In his free time, Adewale enjoys playing soccer, video games, reading, and hiking.

Does Anybody Have a Time Machine?

There are only a few days left until ISPP 2023 in Halifax begins! My excitement’s rising…. What will I learn? Whom will I meet? Did I pack everything? It’s great to come to a place where everyone feels so passionate about pain management for children.

I’m looking forward to getting inspired by the research and opinions of fellow scientists – opening my mind to new ideas and connecting with people from all over the world (including those I’ve only met virtually!). Looking through the scientific program, I wish I had a time machine so I could attend all the symposia, workshops, and discussions. At other meetings, I’ve had to spot “the one” session on pediatric pain – now it will be hard to choose.

For my dissertation project, I hope to collect different opinions on the ICD-11 chronic primary pain diagnoses, “nerd out” about diagnostic algorithms, and get in touch with international clinicians eager to improve the coding system for pediatrics.

As an early-career investigator, I also can’t wait to meet so many distinguished female role models in one place. Their journeys and research both motivates and inspires me to do my best every day and keep on going when the road is rocky. As you can tell, I cannot wait to arrive in Halifax and take in all that ISPP 2023 has to offer. See you soon over a cup of coffee!

Lisa-Marie Rau is a PhD candidate at the German Paediatric Pain Centre in Datteln, Germany. You can follow her on Twitter/X – @Lisa_Marie_Rau.  

Lisa-Marie Rau is a psychologist and research associate at the German Paediatric Pain Centre, and she investigates how the new ICD-11 chronic primary pain criteria fit children and adolescents with chronic primary pain. Her project is the first to evaluate the new chronic primary pain diagnoses to the lowest diagnostic level with symptom profiles of pediatric chronic pain patients presenting at a specialized pain center. Results of this project will be a first step to adjust chronic primary pain criteria to the needs of children and adolescents.

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