Affiliated with Université Laval & CERVO Research Centre

Robert Bonin

Years in the YDK lab: 

Post-doc (2011-2015), Synaptic connectivity and plasticity in spinal nociceptive pathways

Current position: 
Assistant Professor, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, Unviersity of Toronto

Robert Bonin was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Yves De Koninck. His research interests centered on the fundamental mechanisms underlying the development, maintenance, and erasure of synaptic plasticity in the nervous system. He aimed to explore how defects in these mechanisms contribute to the development of sensory disorders and how to target these defects as a therapeutic approach.

He received my PhD in the Collaborative Program in Neuroscience through the department of Physiology at the University of Toronto. Under the supervision of Dr. Beverley Orser, he used a combination of behavioural and electrophysiological methods to identify receptor targets that underlie the memory-impairing and analgesic properties of anesthetics. These studies focused on a unique form of persistent GABAergic inhibition, which he demonstrated to function as a selective and pharmacologically-accessible ‘brake’ for neuronal activity that can be recruited for clinically-relevant modulation of cognitive and sensory processes.

His work in the lab of Dr. Yves De Koninck built upon this experience in pain and memory research and led to the discovery of a novel mechanism regulating the maintenance of central sensitization in pain. This mechanism is analogous to the phenomenon of memory reconsolidation: a protein synthesis-dependent process by which memories are rendered labile and erasable when they are reactivated. He used a combination of behavioural, optogenetic, and electrophysiological approaches to reveal that central sensitization becomes labile and reversible upon reactivation of sensitized pain pathways. Beyond the clinical implications of this work, this finding constitutes the first description of reconsolidation in a circuit far-removed from memory systems. He has also developed novel optogenetic and behavioural methods for the study of pain processing and sensitization, and participated in the development of a new class of drugs for the treatment of neuropathic pain. 

Recent publications

Recent publications from the YDK lab are listed here