European Pain School®

at the University of Siena

European Pain School®

at the University of Siena

EPS 2024 • Pain and the Immune System

Siena | Italy • 9-15 June 2024

Pain and the Immune System

Siena | Italy • 9-15 June 2024




The European Pain School (EPS), founded at the University of Siena (Italy) in 2002, is the first and still the premier school intended for students working on basic science and clinical topics related to acute and chronic pain. EPS has an interdisciplinary perspective and a distinct research orientation. Young scientists at the Ph.D. or postdoctoral levels (or equivalent) in all fields of pain science and pain medicine are encouraged to apply.

Mission and Overview

In the past the basic mechanisms of pain and the neural pathways involved were explored through research on animals and human subjects using well defined noxious stimuli and observing neurophysiological, behavioral and subjective sensory responses. This straightforward approach, however, is not sufficient to understand most of the real-life spontaneous and prolonged pain states that occur in human patients and animals. Rather, chronic pain involves complex and nonlinear functioning of neural and extraneural systems resulting in the maintenance of the pain process.

Long known are inflammatory mechanisms that can induce a prolonged pain state mediated by pain-producing substances of multiple origin including the immune system, with cytokines stimulating peripheral nociceptors or neurons of the central somatosensory system. Prolonged and enhanced activation of the central pain system may also be due to failure of inhibitory controls in the CNS, a likely mechanism in neuropathic pain. Control by both GABA and endogenous opioids may be affected, causing persistent pain and allodynia. Altered control may also be mediated by cytokines released from activated astrocytes and microglia in the CNS.

The mammalian pain system shows a clear sexual dimorphism that may depend on hormonal influences during peri- and postnatal nervous system development, among other causes. This sexual dichotomy has consequences for pain expression and for psychosocial and medical consequences of pain in males and females, including e.g. the process of pain chronification. Recognition of this dichotomy is resulting in developments in pain medicine that take gender into account.

The European Pain School believes in the advancement of interdisciplinary programs for the ultimate benefit of pain patients, disseminating this vision especially among junior investigators interested in basic and clinical research on pain.

2024 Edition: Pain and the immune system

The scientific programme will include general lectures on pain and chronic pain as well as lectures more focussed on neuro-immune interactions in pain. We have a balanced mixture of pre-clinical and clinical lectures as well as industrial perspective on neuro-immune interactions as a source of novel targets. We also cover biopsychological aspects of pain, including ethics in pain and placebo and nocebo effects. A total of 17 lectures including basic, clinical, and industrial research around the issue of chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain, sex dimorphism in pain, fibromyalgia, and musculoskeletal pain. We will emphasise the significant role played by immune cells (e.g. macrophages, meningeal cells, and microglia) in neuronal mechanisms underlying peripheral and central sensitisation. We will consider interactions in the nociceptive neuro-axis at the periphery (skin, nerve, meninges) and in the CNS (spinal cord). Scholars will be guided through the issue of “chronic pain” by the aid of solid lectures on general topics and exposed to cutting-edge topics that should inspire the new generation of pain scientists.
Our social programme includes guided tours of Siena and Val D’Orcia including wine tasting and visit to a thermal SPA..


  • Neuro-immune interactions in
    • rheumatoid arthritis
    • fibromyalgia
    • meninges and headaches
    • painful neuropathies
    • painful autoimmunity
  • Placebo/nocebo: pain modulation by psychosocial factors
  • Transfer of power: how macrophages control pain
  • Ethics in pain: pain in babies
  • Local and systemic inflammatory mediators
  • Crosstalk between immune cells and sensory neurons
  • Sex and pain: differences and similarities
  • Central microglia and peripheral macrophages: targets for pain treatment

Faculty 2024

Anna Maria Aloisi, Siena, Italy
Carlo V. Bellieni, Siena, Italy
Fabrizio Benedetti, Turin, Italy
Giancarlo Carli, Siena, Italy
Thiago Cunha, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil
Niels Eijkelkamp, Utrecht, Netherlands
Pierangelo Geppetti, Florence, Italy
Marzia Malcangio, London, United Kingdom
Peter Reeh, Erlangen, Germany
Mike Salter, Toronto, Canada
Emanuele Sher, Eli Lilly, United Kingdom
Shafaq Sikandar, London, United Kingdom
Camilla Svensson, Stockholm, Sweden
Nurcan Üçeyler, Würzburg, Germany

Past cycles of the School

EPS 2023Neuro-immune Interactions in Nociception, Pain and Itch (10-17 June 2023)

EPS 2022Pain, Inflammation and the Guts (11-18 June 2022)

EPS 2021Pain, Inflammation and the Guts (Online, 14-19 June 2021)

EPS 2020Pain, Inflammation and the Guts (rescheduled)

EPS 2019Headaches and Facial Pain (9-16 June 2019)

EPS 2018Pain: from Fetus to Old Age (10-17 June 2018)

EPS 2017CNS vs PNS Contributions to Persistent Pain (4-11 June 2017)

EPS 2016Pain: Neurons, Gender and Society (5-12 June 2016)

EPS 2015Plasticity in neural processing as a mechanism in chronic pain (7-14 June 2015)

EPS 2014Spontaneous versus Evoked Pain in Animals and Humans (8-15 June 2014)

EPS 2013Brain Modulation of Pain Experience (9-16 June 2013)

EPS 2012Evolution of Concepts on Pain (3-10 June 2012)

EPS 2011Pain: Bridging Molecules and Mind (12-19 June 2011)

EPS 2010Translating Pain Science into Pain Medicine (30 May - 6 June 2010)

EPS 2009Molecular Mechanisms of Pain Response (13-20 June 2009)

EPS 2008Hyperexcitable Neurons as Pain Generators (15-22 June 2008)

EPS 2007Pain Syndromes: Science and Medical Practice (17-24 June 2007)

EPS 2006Pain and the Central Nervous System (12-17 June 2005)

EPS 2005Chronic Pain a Disease: The Role of Genes (6-11 June 2005)

EPS 2003Chronic Pain a Disease: Novel Scientific Concepts (25-31 October 2003)


Certificates of Attendance are available through your personal myEPS2024 area (myDocs section).

In memory of Prof. Zimmermann

Condolences from the University of Siena

School Executive Board

Anna Maria Aloisi
School Director
Siena, Italy

Giancarlo Carli
Siena, Italy

Pierangelo Geppetti
Florence, Italy

Marzia Malcangio
Scientific Programme Director
London, United Kingdom

Peter Reeh
Erlangen, Germany

With the support of





Biomedicina e nutrizione

Administrative management



Call for applications
Feel free to download it and distribute in your Institution.


Call for applications
Feel free to download it and distribute in your Institution.