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NEMU - Neurological and musculoskeletal pain and genetics

NEMUs objective is to develop research based knowledge on mechanisms, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of pain, injuries and diseases in the musculoskeletal and nerve system, including headache and migraine.

We are an interdisciplinary knowledge group with competence within clinical medicine, physiotherapy, psychology, physiology, genetics and molecular biology – and we aim our research towards these main areas:


Clinical trials

The main focus is to examine the effect of treatment interventions, both established and experimental, for patients with musculoskeletal pain. The group, headed by Kjersti Storheim, has extensive experience in running large longitudinal multicenter clinical trials.

The AIM study (Antibiotics In Modic changes), Back-to-Basic, The Norwegian disc prosthesis study and the NORDSTEN study are examples of studies that are rooted in the group.

Group leader: Kjersti Storheim

Population genetics

The group focuses on uncovering genetic causes for chronic pain and for neurological and psychiatric disease through large-scale genetic analysis of data from population studies including the HUNT Study , the Tromsø Study and UK Biobank .

Understanding the genetic causes can give new insights into biological mechanisms involved in these disorders, and in turn lead to improved treatment. The group is closely linked to the K.G. Jebsen Center for Genetic Epidemiology.

UK Biobank
K.G. Jebsen-senter for genetisk epidemiologi

Group leader: Bendik Winsvold



The aim of the group is to identify and characterize genetic and epigenetic causes of neurological disease, with a focus on epilepsy, movement disorders and musculoskeletal disease and pain. Our studies comprise both small patient groups, such as particular epileptic encephalopathies, to large cohorts from public health studies.

High throughput sequencing techniques are applied to produce data, and the sequencing is performed by our collaborator Norwegian Sequencing Centre (UiO/OUH). In these data, we search for germline and somatic genetic causes of disease, as well as epigenetic causes of disease.

Norwegian Sequencing Centre 

Group leader: Kaja Selmer


Pain mechanisms

The group's aim is to understand the causes for neuropathic pain and development of chronic pain, and applies both genetic and neurophysiological methods. Pain trials are carried out on healthy volunteers, as well as on patients with injuries or diseases on peripheral nerves.

Through cooperation internally, nationally and internationally, we also participate in epidemiological studies, as well as take part in clinical trials on patients with neuropathic pain through our national cooperation within clinical neurophysiology.

Group leader: Kristian Bernhard Nilsen

Small fiber neuropathy and neuropathic pain

The main aim of this group is to study various conditions of neuropathic pain, such as small fiber neuropathy, CRPS and other types of nerve damage.

We apply standard  investigations, such as quantitative sensory tests and QSART (Quantitative Sudomotor Axon Reflex Test), and possess special competence in neurography, which allows registration from single C- pain fibers in awake patients.

Group leader: Ellen Jørum


The group studies the distribution and identifies risk factors of diagnoses within NEMU. The group has published several population-based studies on data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT). Another example is the project "Back pain and sciatica - prognostic factors for clinical outcome", based on data from patients admitted to Department of Neurology OUS with the diagnoses of acute back pain. The latter project started as a quality register in 2012.

Group leaders: Ingrid Heuch and Synne Øien Stensland





Published Apr. 10, 2019 10:54 AM - Last modified July 25, 2019 1:27 PM


Group leader


Detailed list of participants