Robert Bonin

faculty_img Academic Title: Assistant Professor

Campus: St. George

CSB Appointment: Cross Appointment

Primary Undergraduate Department: Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy

Graduate Programs:
Cell and Systems Biology

Academic or Administrative Appointments:
Canada Research Chair in Sensory Plasticity and Reconsolidation
Scientist of the University of Toronto Center for the Study of Pain

PhD University of Toronto 2010, BSc McMaster University 2004

Mailing Address
Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building
144 College Street
Toronto, ON M5S 3M2


Contact Information
Office phone: 416-978-2716
Lab phone: 416-946-5951


Research Areas

Psychology & Behavior



Pathological pain is the single most common cause of disability, affecting more than 20% of the population world-wide. It is a leading cause of all doctor and hospital visits. Yet current treatments for chronic pain often fail to provide adequate relief. When we experience painful or non-painful sensations, sensory information is transmitted by specialized nerves from the skin to the spinal cord. The misprocessing of sensory information by cellular networks in the spinal cord can lead to chronic, pathological pain. Most effective treatments for pain, including opioids, work by blocking the transmission of noxious sensory information but don’t treat the underlying causes of chronic pain. An Increase in the strength of cellular connections in the spinal cord can lead to the amplification of pain-associated signals from the spinal cord. In the Bonin lab, we use a combination of behavioural, optogenetic and electrophysiological approaches to explore how the ability of connections between cells in the spinal cord to change strength (called “plasticity”) contributes to pathological pain. Our work seeks to identify and target new molecular mechanisms by which pathological plasticity can be reversed to restore normal sensory processing. We compliment this cellular work through the development of new animal models and testing methods that more closely capture changes in behaviour associated with chronic pain.