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Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

Professor Marzia Malcangio

Marzia Malcangio

Job title

Professor of Neuropharmacology



Date started at King’s


Challenges and achievements

When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?

I have studied the pharmacology of chronic pain since my PhD.

What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area?

My laboratory has a long-standing interest in the biology of spinal cord mechanisms underlying chronic pain. My current work explores several approaches to target neuropathic pain, in particular the involvement of microglia. The strength of the first pain synapse formed by primary sensory neurones and dorsal horn neurones in the spinal cord is plastic and modifiable and in the development and establishment of chronic pain many changes occur at both pre- and post- synaptic sites of the pain synapse.

Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding.

I consider my Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship (1999-2002) as the stepping stone of my scientific career. I also think that my years at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research (2003-2005), where I was Pharmacology Laboratory Head, have been critical for my development as a pharmacologist devoted  to discovering new targets, if not treatments, for chronic pain. 

Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?

Yes, I do. I most admire Professor Stephen McMahon, who acted as sponsor of my Wellcome Fellowship, for his passion for science and his determination to create a legacy in the field of pain studies. I also consider Professor Susan Brain as my female role model for her ability to establish herself as an eminent scientist, a respected lecturer and a responsible Head of Department.

What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King's?

I enjoy the research ongoing in my group most highly. However, I also find some aspects of teaching rewarding  for example my student’s curiosity to learn and acquire knowledge. 

How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?

Quite well, as I can manage my priorities well.

How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?

Rather well. I have a family and 2 boys in their teenage years who keep me busy.

What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?

I learnt to be persistent. One piece of advice would be to find good mentors and role models.


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