Carolyn Fairbanks, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience; Associate Dean for Research, College of Pharmacy

E-MAIL: [email protected]

Research Interests:

Pain originates in peripheral nerves and carried via the spinal cord  to the brain via excitatory neurotransmission.  Inhibitory neurotransmission systems reside both in the periphery and in the spinal cord and serve to modulate pain signals. Targeted therapeutic delivery to the spinal cord or design of therapeutics that cannot cross the blood brain barrier can activate such inhibitory systems. Such approaches can  exact a very selective method of pain control that greatly increases the therapeutic index of such therapeutics by reducing or eliminating their exposure to brain regions that mediate undesired side effects, such as addiction. 

Dr. Fairbanks's interdisciplinary team applies principles of neuroscience and pharmacology to uncover  basic  neural mechanisms (e.g. glutamate-induced neuroplasticity) governing induction and maintenance of chronic pain as well as development of opioid-induced tolerance and addiction.Targets identified through discovery are advanced using  pharmaceutical approaches through translation to develop new therapeutics. Dr. Fairbanks offers an interdisciplinary elective advanced course in Neuropharmaceutics in the Fall on even numbered years (NSC, PHM, MVB 8481 Advanced Neuropharmaceutics).

Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

  • Peterson CD, Waataja JJ, Kitto KF, Erb S, Verma H, Schuster DJ, Churchill CC, Riedl MS, Belur LR, Wolf DA, McIvor RS, Vulchanova L, Wilcox GL, Fairbanks CA. Long-term reversal of chronic pain behavior in rodents through elevation of spinal agmatine. Mol Ther. 2023 Jan 28:S1525-0016(23)00054-0.
  • Skorput AGJ, Gore R, Schorn R, Riedl MS, Marron Fernandez de Velasco E, Hadlich B, Kitto KF, Fairbanks CA, Vulchanova L. Targeting the somatosensory system with AAV9 and AAV2retro viral vectors. PLoS One. 2022 Mar 10;17(3):e0264938.
  • Pflepsen KR, Peterson CD, Kitto KF, Riedl MS, McIvor RS, Wilcox GL, Vulchanova L, Fairbanks CA. Biodistribution of adeno-associated virus serotype 5 viral vectors following intrathecal injection. Mol Pharm. 2021 Aug 30. doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.1c00252.
  • Peterson CD, Kitto KF, Verma H, Pflepsen K, Delpire E, Wilcox GL, Fairbanks CA. Agmatine requires GluN2B-containing NMDA receptors to inhibit the development of neuropathic pain. Mol Pain. 2021 Jan-Dec;17:17448069211029171.
  • Larson CM, Peterson CD, Kitto KF, Wilcox GL, Fairbanks CA. Sustained-release buprenorphine induces acute opioid tolerance in the mouse. Eur J Pharmacol. 2020 Jul 26:173330.
  • Gore R, Riedl MS, Kitto KF, Fairbanks CA, Vulchanova L. AAV-mediated gene delivery to the enteric nervous system by intracolonic injection. Methods Mol Biol. 2019;1950:407-415.
  • Peterson CD, Skorput AGJ, Kitto KF, Wilcox GL, Vulchanova L, Fairbanks CA. AAV-mediated gene delivery to the spinal cord by intrathecal injection. Methods Mol Biol. 2019;1950:199-207.
  • Pflepsen KR, Peterson CD, Kitto KF, Vulchanova L, Wilcox GL, Fairbanks CA. Detailed method for intrathecal delivery of gene therapeutics by direct lumbar puncture in mice. Methods Mol Biol. 2019;1937:305-312.
  • Waataja JJ, Peterson CD, Verma H, Goracke-Postle CJ, Séguéla P, Delpire E, Wilcox GL, Fairbanks CA. Agmatine preferentially antagonizes GluN2B-containing N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors in spinal cord. J Neurophysiol. 2019;121(2):662-671.
  • Doolen S, Cook J, Riedl M, Kitto K, Kohsaka S, Honda CN, Fairbanks CA, Taylor BK, Vulchanova L. Complement 3a receptor in dorsal horn microglia mediates pronociceptive neuropeptide signaling. Glia. 2017;65:1976-1989.
  • Peterson CD, Kitto KF, Akgün E, Lunzer MM, Riedl MS, Vulchanova L, Wilcox GL, Portoghese PS, Fairbanks CA. Bivalent ligand that activates mu opioid receptor and antagonizes mGluR5 receptor reduces neuropathic pain in mice. Pain. 2017;158:2431-2441.
  • Laoharawee K, Podetz-Pedersen KM, Nguyen TT, Evenstar LB, Kitto KF, Nan Z, Fairbanks CA, Low WC, Kozarsky KF, McIvor RS. Prevention of neurocognitive deficiency in mucopolysaccharidosis type II mice by central nervous system-directed, AAV9-mediated iduronate sulfatase gene transfer. Hum Gene Ther. 2017;28(8):626-638
  • Chabot-Doré AJ, Millecamps M, Naso L, Devost D, Trieu P, Piltonen M, Diatchenko L, Fairbanks CA, Wilcox GL, Hébert TE, Stone LS. Dual allosteric modulation of opioid antinociceptive potency by α2A-adrenoceptors. Neuropharmacology. 2015 Aug 6;99:285-300.
  • Fairbanks CA, Goracke-Postle CJ. Neurobiological studies of chronic pain and analgesia: Rationale and refinements. Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Jul;759:169-181.
  • Guedon JM, Wu S, Zheng X, Churchill CC, Glorioso JC, Liu CH, Liu S, Vulchanova L, Bekker A, Tao YX, Kinchington PR, Goins WF, Fairbanks CA, Hao S. Current gene therapy using viral vectors for chronic pain. Mol Pain. 2015 May 13;11:27.
  • Schuster DJ; Metcalf MD; Kitto KF; Messing RO; Fairbanks CA; Wilcox GL. Ligand requirements for involvement of PKCepsilon in synergistic analgesic interactions between spinal mu and delta opioid receptors.Br J Pharmacol. 2015;172:642-653.
  • Stone LS, German JP, Kitto KF, Fairbanks CA, Wilcox GL. Morphine and clonidine combination therapy improves therapeutic window in mice: synergy in antinociceptive but not in sedative or cardiovascular effects. PLoS One. 2014;9(10):e109903.
  • Schuster DJ, Belur LR, Riedl MS, Schnell SA, Podetz-Pedersen KM, Kitto KF, McIvor RS, Vulchanova L, Fairbanks CA. Supraspinal gene transfer by intrathecal adeno-associated virus serotype 5. Front Neuroanat. 2014;8:66. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2014.00066. eCollection 2014.
  • Schuster DJ, Dykstra JA, Riedl MS, Kitto KF, Belur LR, McIvor RS, Elde RP, Fairbanks CA, Vulchanova L. Biodistribution of adeno-associated virus serotype 9 (AAV9) vector after intrathecal and intravenous delivery in mouse. Front Neuroanat. 2014;8:42. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2014.00042. eCollection 2014.
  • Fairbanks CA, Peterson CD, Speltz RH, Riedl MS, Kitto KF, Dykstra JA, Braun PD, Sadahiro M, Salton SR, Vulchanova L. The VGF-derived peptide TLQP-21 contributes to inflammatory and nerve injury-induced hypersensitivity. Pain. 2014;155(7):1229-37.

Former Graduate Students:

Cory Jo Goracke-Postle (Ph.D. 2007, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Aaron Overland (Ph.D. 2010, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Daniel Schuster (Ph.D. 2013, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).

Picture of Carolyn Fairbanks