Clifford Woolf
Clifford Woolf, MB, BCh, PhD
Professor of Neurology

Our group is devoted to investigating the way in which the functional, chemical and structural plasticity of neurons contributes both to the normal function and diseases of the nervous system. Major efforts are devoted to the study of pain, regeneration and neurodegenerative diseases. Most of our work is concentrated on primary sensory and motor neurons, and to the interaction of neurons and immune cells, using a multidisciplinary approach spanning stem cell, molecular and cell biology, electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, behavior and genetics. We have established functional and comparative genomic strategies using expression profiling, bioinformatics and gain- and loss-of-function approaches, to screen for novel genes that contribute to neuronal plasticity and disease phenotypes. The group works closely with many academic groups and the pharmaceutical industry to model disease and identify molecular targets for novel analgesics, axonal growth determinants and neuroprotective agents. Current research includes study of the transcriptional control and post-translational processing of receptors and ion channels that mediate pain hypersensitivity, selective silencing of defined neuronal populations, intracellular signal transduction cascades activated by peripheral inflammation and nerve injury, neuro-immune interactions, transcription factors as master regulators of pain, growth and survival programs, cell survival in injured sensory and motor neurons, and the contribution of intrinsic growth determinants in establishing regenerative capacity in the peripheral and central nervous system. We are an active part of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and are investigating how sensory and motor neurons reprogrammed from patient fibroblasts can be used to study pain and motor neuron disease and to screen for new treatments.


"We have established functional and comparative genomic strategies using expression profiling, bioinformatics and gain- and loss-of-function approaches, to screen for novel genes that contribute to neuronal plasticity and disease phenotypes."

Publications View
Human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis excitability phenotype screen: Target discovery and validation.
Authors: Authors: Huang X, Roet KCD, Zhang L, Brault A, Berg AP, Jefferson AB, Klug-McLeod J, Leach KL, Vincent F, Yang H, Coyle AJ, Jones LH, Frost D, Wiskow O, Chen K, Maeda R, Grantham A, Dornon MK, Klim JR, Siekmann MT, Zhao D, Lee S, Eggan K, Woolf CJ.
Cell Rep
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Inhibition of inflammatory pain and cough by a novel charged sodium channel blocker.
Authors: Authors: Tochitsky I, Jo S, Andrews N, Kotoda M, Doyle B, Shim J, Talbot S, Roberson D, Lee J, Haste L, Jordan SM, Levy BD, Bean BP, Woolf CJ.
Br J Pharmacol
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Human cells and networks of pain: Transforming pain target identification and therapeutic development.
Authors: Authors: Renthal W, Chamessian A, Curatolo M, Davidson S, Burton M, Dib-Hajj S, Dougherty PM, Ebert AD, Gereau RW, Ghetti A, Gold MS, Hoben G, Menichella DM, Mercier P, Ray WZ, Salvemini D, Seal RP, Waxman S, Woolf CJ, Stucky CL, Price TJ.
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Reduced MC4R signaling alters nociceptive thresholds associated with red hair.
Authors: Authors: Robinson KC, Kemény LV, Fell GL, Hermann AL, Allouche J, Ding W, Yekkirala A, Hsiao JJ, Su MY, Theodosakis N, Kozak G, Takeuchi Y, Shen S, Berenyi A, Mao J, Woolf CJ, Fisher DE.
Sci Adv
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FceR1 expressing nociceptors trigger allergic airway inflammation.
Authors: Authors: Crosson T, Wang JC, Doyle B, Merrison H, Balood M, Parrin A, Pascal M, Mindt BC, Seehus CR, Ozcan A, Huang X, Semenara E, Lai NY, Majdoubi A, Abdulnour RE, Rajchgot T, Rafei M, Foster SL, Thibodeau J, Fritz JH, Levy BD, Woolf CJ, Talbot S.
J Allergy Clin Immunol
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Brain Responses to Noxious Stimuli in Patients With Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.
Authors: Authors: Xu A, Larsen B, Henn A, Baller EB, Scott JC, Sharma V, Adebimpe A, Basbaum AI, Corder G, Dworkin RH, Edwards RR, Woolf CJ, Eickhoff SB, Eickhoff CR, Satterthwaite TD.
JAMA Netw Open
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Research design considerations for chronic pain prevention clinical trials: IMMPACT recommendations.
Authors: Authors: Gewandter JS, Dworkin RH, Turk DC, Farrar JT, Fillingim RB, Gilron I, Markman JD, Oaklander AL, Polydefkis MJ, Raja SN, Robinson JP, Woolf CJ, Ziegler D, Ashburn MA, Burke LB, Cowan P, George SZ, Goli V, Graff OX, Iyengar S, Jay GW, Katz J, Kehlet H, Kitt RA, Kopecky EA, Malamut R, McDermott MP, Palmer P, Rappaport BA, Rauschkolb C, Steigerwald I, Tobias J, Walco GA.
Pain Rep
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Two independent mouse lines carrying the Nav1.7-I228M gain-of-function variant display DRG neuron hyperexcitability but a minimal pain phenotype.
Authors: Authors: Chen L, Wimalasena NK, Shim J, Han C, Lee SI, Gonzalez-Cano R, Estacion M, Faber CG, Lauria G, Dib-Hajj SG, Woolf CJ, Waxman SG.
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Effect of Ezogabine on Cortical and Spinal Motor Neuron Excitability in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
Authors: Authors: Wainger BJ, Macklin EA, Vucic S, McIlduff CE, Paganoni S, Maragakis NJ, Bedlack R, Goyal NA, Rutkove SB, Lange DJ, Rivner MH, Goutman SA, Ladha SS, Mauricio EA, Baloh RH, Simmons Z, Pothier L, Kassis SB, La T, Hall M, Evora A, Klements D, Hurtado A, Pereira JD, Koh J, Celnik PA, Chaudhry V, Gable K, Juel VC, Phielipp N, Marei A, Rosenquist P, Meehan S, Oskarsson B, Lewis RA, Kaur D, Kiskinis E, Woolf CJ, Eggan K, Weiss MD, Berry JD, David WS, Davila-Perez P, Camprodon JA, Pascual-Leone A, Kiernan MC, Shefner JM, Atassi N, Cudkowicz ME.
JAMA Neurol
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Epineural optogenetic activation of nociceptors initiates and amplifies inflammation.
Authors: Authors: Michoud F, Seehus C, Schönle P, Brun N, Taub D, Zhang Z, Jain A, Furfaro I, Akouissi O, Moon R, Meier P, Galan K, Doyle B, Tetreault M, Talbot S, Browne LE, Huang Q, Woolf CJ, Lacour SP.
Nat Biotechnol
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