Outcome of the Carnegie/Caledonian PhD Scholarships Round…
Project Title: A new approach to suffering in life-limiting illness: Total pain, embodiment, and the human microbiome
What does our gut bacteria have to do with how we experience pain? As a medical anthropologist, I am interested in exploring this question with people who commonly report complex and hard to treat pain. In particular, my research focuses on people with advancing life-limiting illnesses, where cumulative physical, psychological, social and spiritual distress can lead to a state known as ‘total pain’. However, while we know that total pain causes significant suffering, we currently know very little about the precursors of total pain.
My research aims to develop a new interdisciplinary approach through focusing on the role of the gut-brain axis; the bidirectional communication system which links our gastrointestinal tract and nervous systems, including cognitive and emotional centres in the brain. The Carnegie Research Incentive Grant will allow me to synthesize existing research from anthropology, medicine, and biology to better understand how the health of our gut microbiome may predispose us to, or protect us from, certain forms of pain experience. I plan to build on this knowledge synthesis, in collaboration with a larger team, to develop targeted biomedical and social interventions that proactively support the gut microbiome health for those who may be at higher risk of complex pain in chronic and life-limiting illness.
Awarded: Research Incentive Grant
Field: Social Anthropology
University: University of Glasgow